I AM GENERALLY VERY HEALTHY and don’t get sick often. I exercise modestly with a balance between strength, cardio and flexibility training. I eat a healthy diet, though my weekends can consist of more than one large margarita and usually a “Yuge” or “Bigly” bucket of popcorn.
So entering the detox world for me is very different than for many who are suffering from serious, sometimes debilitating, symptoms for which they are not finding remedies through conventional medicine. Once you immerse yourself in the detox world, it’s a hypochondriac’s dream come true.
As much as I know about Environmental Medicine, Toxins and Toxicants and Human Physiology – It’s surprising that I don’t walk around in a hazmat suit. I regularly think about the pH of my urine and question if my enterohepatic cycle (Liver to Small Intestine) is functioning properly. Before drinking coffee or alcohol, I question my cells hydration status. In fact I will drink water before, just to help my kidneys filter better. I often wonder how many toxins I release into my body when I know my workouts are breaking down fat cells, which are filled with organophosphates. Speaking of working out, I also wonder how much fire retardants and phthalates are reabsorbed into my body the longer that I wear my sweaty clothes.
When I first started Chiropractic school, I came from a Conventional Medical paradigm. And as soon as I started studying toxicity, I wanted to dig into the debunking side of things… even now “Detoxing” is filled with CRAZINESS! We live in a time where you get people running out and taking things because the Kardashians are doing it.
In terms of the natural products on the market, I can confidently say that 50% is junk and 50% worthy of further research. Two examples are fatty acids and vitamin D— natural supplements with tremendous, well-researched, proven and medically accepted benefits. Certainly, there are more, but we just need to continue exploring and researching them.
As of Sunday, November 6, 2016 performing a Google search of “detox diet”, turns up over 10 million references, including everything from relatively reasonable approaches to nutrition and lifestyle to thousands of cleanses and diets of questionable repute. I laugh as I see “The 7 Day Detox Diet” and “Your Simple 3 Day Diet Detox”. Of course there are also headlines like: “Detox Diets Don’t Work” or “No Scientific Reason to Detox”.
Reducing Body Pollution (Toxic Burden) is Scientifically Necessary
And herein lies a major problem. Fad diets will come and go, but optimizing nutrient intake and decreasing toxic burden (body pollution) is an absolute must if you’re interested in health.
Here are a few facts:
- Our children today live in an environment that is fundamentally different from that of just 50 years ago.
- Medical Research suggests that up to 80% of diseases today are directly related to toxicity.
- Since World War II, more than 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced into our environment and only a handful have been tested for safety.
- Exposure to air pollutants are now linked to Heart Disease and Cancer, the two leading causes of death.
- Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested
- Phthalates are found in almost 100 percent of people tested.
What does all this mean? Detoxing or working towards reducing your toxic load as much as possible is now a requirement, not just another fad. But be weary of “fad diets” including “detox diets”.
What seems to happen with fad diets is that somebody takes a basic idea— eat more fruit— and turns it into a gimmick, which they then profit from. So rather than focusing on fresh fruit as part of a healthy lifestyle, we end up with the “insert favorite fruit here” detox diet. Clearly, one of the downsides of the Internet age is that anyone with a computer can create a diet, design a web page and make stuff up.
Take one “lipid detoxification diet,” for example: One of the recipes includes: eggnog, potatoes fried with bacon, steak (“eat as much of the fat as you can”) and whipped cream. The recipe for a baked potato suggests that it be eaten with “at least half a stick of butter and a quarter cup of sour cream.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe fat is good for us. But looking at the ingredients of whipped cream and eggnog… I’m not so sure that this recipe detoxes the body! And judging by the ever-increasing girth of North Americans, I’m pretty sure this is not sound medical advice.
As the number of detox products and treatments grows, so does the number of critics who emphasize the lack of scientific evidence that these methods actually work.
The Australian consumer products watchdog group Choice reviewed seven detox kits available at pharmacies and health food stores. Their conclusion, based on their expert panel review, was that most of the detox programs (typically 10- to 15-day special diets) were of little or no value— and one of the detox diets they tested was dangerous due to the low levels of protein and nutrients a dieter could eat during the regime . Other studies confirm the lack of evidence regarding the benefits of detox and cleansing diets .
Here’s what it comes down to. There are three main reasons (lies or false truths) why most detox kits or programs are of little value.
3 Ways to Spot Detox Pills, Potions and Lotion Lies!
- They provide individuals with a false sense that consuming juice or various herbs over 10, 14 or even 30 days can somehow eliminate toxins that have accumulated over a much longer period of said detox program. These people (and supposed Detox Pros) therefore ignore one of the foundations of the detox process— namely, that detox is a continuous lifestyle shift, not a short-term diet.
For example, let’s talk about the toxic heavy metal mercury. It’s an interesting fact that some people with high mercury exposure don’t become toxic, yet others with relatively low exposure do. Why is this? Why does one person get really sick from her amalgams while another is perfectly fine?
The difference lies in your ability to detoxify naturally. You already have a system in place for removing mercury and other heavy metals from your body. Mercury’s half-life can range from 40 to 120 days, and the faster you can clear it out, the less you’ll be affected.
It’s important to realize that people are either slow detoxifiers or fast detoxifiers, and a small genetic subset are super slow detoxifiers. If you are in the super slow group, your detox system is significantly impaired and the result can be mercury overload. How quickly you detoxify on your own depends on a several factors, such as your exposure level, genetic makeup, genetic expression, and overall health. For example, if your progesterone levels are low, you can’t detoxify as well, and unfortunately, decreased progesterone levels are common today.
Additionally, people who are hypersensitive to metals will have toxic effects at much lower levels than other people. When it comes to the buildup of heavy metals in your body, the news is all bad. Heavy metal toxicity produces a wide range of adverse biological effects.
Again, I believe we all need to be detoxing; some of us more than others. But how you detox and your understanding of what it is, is crucial for success.
- They often recommend accompanying diets that restrict the intake of protein and other nutrients to such an extent that people unfamiliar with basic nutrition may suffer.
It pains me to hear that a Detox diet is restrictive in any capacity. Nutrition is not about restricting, but nourishing the body. It’s about abundance of nutrients to maximize human potential. Sure, there are foods that you want to eliminate, but that doesn’t mean you cannot eat as much of the “good foods” as you want. There is nothing restrictive about it. So any detox program that wants to eliminate Healthy Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate is wrong.
Additionally, toxicity is not just the level of a toxin — it’s your body’s response to a toxin, which depends on the strength of your natural detoxification system. Many people don’t understand that your body comes with its own built-in detoxification system. It’s a common myth that once you ingest mercury, it stays in your body forever.
Your body has a system to efficiently remove mercury and other heavy metals, if your detoxification system is working properly. The problem is, many of you have one that’s broken, and one of the principal causes of that broken system is inflammation.
Protein is necessary to produce Glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s main detoxification system. Glutathione binds to heavy metals, but it doesn’t do it alone — it requires the assistance of enzymes, antioxidants, and transport proteins (that you get from green foods). Old age, impaired genetics, poor diet, and toxic exposures of all kinds — aflatoxins, chloroform, DDT, organic nitrates, styrene, phthalates, flame retardants, benzene from air pollution, and others — impair your glutathione system. And before you jump onto google to purchase a glutathione supplement, know that it doesn’t work very well.
A far more effective strategy is to upregulate the expression of the genes (change your behaviors and eating habits) that produce the enzymes and transport proteins (to help your body do the work) that assist glutathione in doing its job.
- Detox Diets are not specific about what they are trying to Detox in the first place!!!
Believe me, I have read, purchased and personally experimented with nearly every “Detox” program out there. What’s interesting is that they all are pretty much an expensive diet. While I do find value in giving someone sound nutrition advice, I don’t appreciate the misguided information on detoxing.
They talk about foods to stay away from and foods to increase, but not one has ever bothered to quantify the number of toxins much less provide protocols with clear instructions on how to remove them.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the world of detox is that so many detox diets and cleanses don’t even define or describe which toxins they are trying to eliminate. And most don’t include methods of measuring the toxic chemicals entering and leaving our bodies.
That said, diet is huge! How you eat is fundamental to cleaning up the body because nutrition is ramps up your body’s ability to detox. My personal recommendations in a Detox program will begin where most programs end: Nutrition. But like I said, it’s only the beginning.
This foundation of eliminating toxic foods and substances and increasing health building nutrients is essential for ramping up enzymes, proteins and hormones that supercharge your body’s natural ability to detoxify. Once you’ve gotten things in order, the next step is to quantify toxins in your body.
As a Functional Medicine physician, my goal in detoxing the body comes down to reducing the following:
- Heavy Metals (Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, etc)
- Molds & Biotoxins (Mold, Yeast)
- Gut Infections & Parasites (Spirochetes, Viruses, Parasites)
- Environmental Toxins (DDT, Parabens, Flame Retardants, Styrene, etc)
There are very specific, validated tests to quantify these compounds in the body. There are also many tests out there that don’t properly quantify levels- so be careful! But once again, there’s no point unless you’ve done the homework of getting your systems in order. A good detox program will consist of cleansing for a minimum of 28 days, but for most Americans should be around 60 to 90 days.
In a few months, I will be launching The Clean Detox system. If you’re interested, make sure you’re reading my emails and keeping up with all the information I’ll be sharing!
Did this information help you to understand more about Detoxing and Cleansing?
Do you practice any of the techniques discussed in this article?
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