So-called detox products around the western world have, for the last four years, increased in popularity, according to sales figures. In fact, this comes as little surprise as people’s New Year resolutions have been narrowed down to just one resolution. Sure, the “New Year, new me” guise could mean any number of positive changes, but it whittles down to living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, we are going about this in the wrong way – it stifles me to believe that buying anything which says “detox” on the packaging is, in our minds, a sufficient turnaround towards a healthier lifestyle.
Let’s not mix words here: any change towards a healthier lifestyle is positive, and no air of cynicism should put anyone off rethinking their diet or routine when such a goal is sought. The issue is that we don’t take the little time it requires to do a minimum of background research on such things.
The act of ‘detoxing’, scientifically speaking, is utter nonsense. The idea that anything you consume can somehow cleanse your body of excess calories and fat accumulated in a long or short period of indulgence, is nothing more than a scam – save, according to toxicologists, treatment for life-threatening drug addictions. Quite simply, if our bodies were not able to excrete the toxins we build up, we would be dead or in urgent need of medical intervention. Our kidneys, liver and skin detoxify our bodies, and there is thus far no medical evidence to support the idea that something which works well in a healthy body can be made to work better by consuming popular products.
We hear all this talk about toxins, but nobody actually tells you what these toxins are. If people did, then doctors would be in a much better position to identify a means of treatment – hardly surprising that when questioned by scientists in 2009, manufacturers of detox smoothies, supplements and shampoos were not able to name the toxins, let alone define what they meant by detoxification.
Of course, sometimes in life our bodies do experience complications in digestion and excretion. In these cases, the answer is not to blame the food we consume and try to wing our way through it, but to seek basic medical attention from your local GP. Do not fall into the trap of putting your symptoms into Google and hoping you’ll find all the information you need about your possible condition; websites give you information, but they do not ask you questions, which can only take place during medical consultation. Finding general information about dietary advice online can be useful, but always check the credentials of the person or team that wrote the articles – there are a great many charlatans out there whose knowledge goes no further than a Google search and whose practice involves groundless scaremongering.
Diet and exercise often go hand in hand, but one does not substitute the other. Both are important for a healthy lifestyle, but certain sports and exercise require a specific diet, so it’s important to know what type of diet fits your particular sport. For example, a lot of people are getting into weightlifting, and for those wishing to get further into body building, consultation on the type of diet required will make a big difference. Somebody who practices regular light exercise (swimming, jogging, cycling) will be more focused on a healthy heart and keeping in shape – this may require less consultation as a balanced diet is all that is required (descriptions of which are readily available from any local GP). Ultimately, face-to-face consultation with the experts is what will help you find your optimal diet and exercise routine; there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ diet and exercise plan.
The bottom line is to be aware of your sources of dietary advice. Detox products are an absolute scam and work only as a substitute to something less healthy (e.g. drinking 3 grapefruit and ginger shakes a day instead of 3 beers a day will have an obvious impact). When reading up on dietary advice, make sure you do not take someone’s testimony as law, and always check the credentials of whoever writes articles and advice – while they might have had some success with a specific diet, all our bodies are different. If you are concerned about your current diet or detoxifying organs, always seek medical consultation from qualified professionals over generic charlatans who scare people into believing we suffer from problems which don’t exist.