Planning On Doing a New Year's Detox? Read This First!
The primary avenue for me to choose what to write about has a lot to do with conversations or observances I have had in my daily life. Whether it is an interaction I encountered at a conference six months ago or an article sent to me by a friend or client, if a topic gets my blood pressure rising, it ends with an investigation and a blog post. Today's example is no exception.
Just when you thought a fad was going to fade into internet oblivion, it resurfaces and reminds me of what a colossal scam it was from the beginning; sometimes the sellers change the name but ultimately, it's the same wellness hype and misinformation meant to take your money and leave you in worse shape than when you started,
Such is the case with "detoxing." The idea is to cleanse your digestive and circulatory systems to eliminate toxins, "reboot" your body, and rid yourself of the guilt of some of your bad food choices. If you're looking for a how-to protocol for doing this, Amazon has various books and supplements
ready to sell you. Each promise that their program will give you a healthier version of yourself after you wash away all of the bad stuff lurking inside of you---for a fee.
Websites like "Goop" provide a handy detox guide showing you which detox protocol is suitable. I'm told a $58 lip balm on the site sold explicitly for this purpose. Others offer teas, tinctures, and supplements.
I'm okay with people trying to better their health by making healthy choices, and after all, that's what I help people do in my practice. However, the claims made by many of the wellness community, coupled with promises for miracle changes in one's health, are so far-fetched that they must be addressed. The cost of some of these protocols could pay my mortgage for a month or two.
DETOX IS A MARKETING PLOY
Detoxing is a legitimate medical practice used for a specific purpose. It is used as a treatment for ridding a person's body of dangerous or deadly levels of drugs, poisons such as heavy metals, or alcohol. Because it can be potentially harmful, medical professionals only practice detoxification in hospital settings when trying to preserve someone's life.
What about the environmental and food-related toxins referred to that the detox program is supposed to eliminate? Because no one truly knows what's lurking inside their body, but they know for sure there are toxic substances in the world, using these products seems legitimate and necessary for optimal health—making claims that aren't based on fact and play on the fears of the consumer only confuses and, in some cases, serious harm.
Consider some of the health implications of embarking on a detox or cleanse:
*There have been several companies selling detox and cleanse products that have had legal action taken against them by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. The most common reasons were a) the product contained illegal and potentially harmful ingredients and b) made false claims that the product could be used to treat severe disease. This may cause a person to forgo conventional treatment and become worse or result in death.
*Some detox products use juices that have not been pasteurized, killing harmful bacteria. These bacteria can make someone very ill, especially in the case of a child, older adult, or one with a weak immune system.
*Some juices used in detox products are made from high oxalate foods, a substance that occurs naturally. Ingesting large quantities of high oxalate juice may lead to serious kidney problems.
*Utilizing a product that severely restricts calories may lead to short-term weight loss and malnourishment due to a lack of essential nutrients.
*Some detox programs may include laxatives, leading to dehydration due to severe diarrhea. This can disrupt electrolyte balance and lead to heart and blood pressure issues. This can also happen when drinking large quantities of water and not eating adequate food for several days.
The idea behind detox or cleansing is that it's supposed to clean your organs. Because your liver and kidneys filter your blood, all the toxins you absorb through food and your environment get trapped and need to be cleaned out occasionally.
The problem is that this is not how your liver and kidneys work. The liver undergoes myriad chemical reactions using enzymes that convert toxic substances into ones that can be eliminated via bile and your kidneys.
The liver cleanses itself regularly, and toxins do not accumulate in it. Unless there is a history of liver malfunction, and believe me, you would know if yours did, it does a great job all by itself without any help from an ill-formulated concoction by an alternative medicine practitioner.
The kidney's job is to excrete waste products into urine. To state that one needs to undergo a cleanse or detox to help this happen, a lack of basic biochemistry and the body's functions.
BUT AREN'T THERE TOXINS IN EVERYTHING?
Influencers and prominent figures are adept at proving that you're being regularly poisoned.
The environment, the food you eat, and the air you breathe all have a role in making you sick. So much so, they claim, that without an elixir or tincture to help you eliminate these toxins, your health will continue to deteriorate. Ultimately it's a game of fear. Fear of the unknown and how it will impact you in years to come. Not just you, mind you, but the well-being of your children and family is also at stake unless you do something about it—for a high price.
Food additives, salt, red meat, fluoride, sugar, the water you drink, and eating carbs all cause harmful chemical buildup in your organs. The specific chemical or chemical compound isn't named, nor is the amount of "buildup" they mention. Vagueness in their descriptions serves to feed the fear of an unsuspecting audience. After all, how is an accountant or an elementary teacher, for example, going to know all of the biochemical implications of the toxins they are exposed to?
Does the more critical question become, what toxins are being removed by these detox products? Are they helping? How do we know? We don't know, and neither do the people selling them.
COFFEE AND I DON'T MEAN THE KIND YOU DRINK
Isn't coffee great? I love my warm cup of java every morning before I start my day, and so do millions of others. There are some significant health benefits to drinking coffee in moderate amounts. However, there is this very odd belief that flushing coffee into your rectum has some real health benefits—YIKES! If you haven't heard of this before, I urge you to avoid googling it; it's not the appealing picture you want.
Coffee enemas are unsafe, with no proven health benefits, and should not be used as a detoxification method. Although adverse events are rare, things like rectal perforation, electrolyte imbalances, and septicemia (bacteria in your bloodstream) have all been attributed to coffee enemas. In some cases, death has been reported.
Don't fall for this scam. This fad could seriously hurt you or someone you love.
Coffee enemas are part of the "Gerson Treatment" used by alternative medicine practitioners to treat cancer back in the 1940s. The regimen includes using his prescribed supplements, juicing, and injecting his calf liver. The Gerson Treatment has been investigated and shown to do absolutely nothing in cancer treatment. It may delay people in seeking treatments that work, which can prove a deadly choice. Some proponents of coffee enemas believe that the chemical components of coffee stimulate liver and gall bladder function. There is no credible evidence to suggest this occurs or that it is necessary.
Purification methods and theories have been around for thousands of years. People seem to think it is necessary to "help" your body by employing some of these practices. There isn't any evidence that hints that detoxification treatments have a positive impact on your body's ability to rid itself of waste or "toxins." Like many weight loss claims, there are no quick fixes to poor diet or lifestyle choices. You don't get better health overnight, and it isn't found in a detox, supplement, or coffee flushed in your rectum. Your liver and kidneys will function better with choices in food and movement that support what they're already doing, not by purchasing an expensive protocol or tincture online.