After a chaotic, indulgent weekend involving greasy, deep-fried food and alcohol, Monday comes around and you feel compelled to “detox.” With so many commercial “detox” juice cleanses, you anxiously pick up one and drink nothing but that ALL day. The following day you feel absolutely miraculous.
So, what happened? Did the detox drink have some magical powers? Did it excrete all of the toxins you built up over the weekend and possibly more?
The answer is NOT what you are expecting.
Contrary to what the media and commercial products will tell you, you are not releasing a couples days or better yet, years worth of toxins. Your liver is not soaking up all of these like a sponge and then suddenly flushing them out once you drink some fruit and vegetable juice. These companies have simply hijacked a genuine medical term and exploited it as well as your ignorance.
Detoxification is no doubt a real medical treatment, but it is for those who have a clinical diagnosis of toxicity; whether that is from accidental ingestion of hydrogen peroxide or accumulation of heavy metals from environmental exposure.
There are many situations in which one can develop a serious diagnosis of toxicity that demands immediate medical detoxification attention. In fact, on a daily basis we are bombarded with external (exogenous) toxins like gas fumes, dust, pollen, smoke, perfumes, metals in food, fluoride, microbial contaminants, pesticides, cleaning agents and an array of substances from wild fires and volcanoes.
OK, maybe that last one is not quite common, but I think you get my point.
So, when the liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins in a greater than normal situation, then problems arise. Otherwise, if this is not you, you are not “detoxing” anything more than what your liver and kidneys are already doing. Your level of toxins is low enough for your liver to properly perform its normal, inherent detoxification functionality.
The incontrovertible truth about toxins is that we cannot escape them. Do you think our exposure to them in the outside world is the only thing you have to worry about? Guess what? You manufacture a bunch of toxins just from being alive.
Ammonia, lactic acid, reactive oxygen species/free radicals, excess hormones, advanced glycation end-products and even a deficiency of nutrients can produce toxins. Have no fear though; your body is well equipped to neutralize many of these making them less hazardous.
However, when things go awry from impaired biochemical pathways, chronic disease or a lack of nutrients then the internal (endogenous) toxin burden becomes incredibly heavy on the liver and your system in general. Again, under normal circumstances in most of us, things are under control and the body functions in harmony. You can easily see how we are hit with toxins from two angles. While we have limited control over the toxins manufactured inside of us, we can manage outside exposures a bit better to our advantage.
There are numerous ways we can limit toxin exposure.
Purchase organic food, especially meat and produce to reduce exposure to herbicides, growth hormones like rBGH and antibiotics – all of which deliver one nasty punch.
Drink fresh water by using something like a reverse osmosis filter to remove fluoride and a host of other unfavorable compounds.
Purchase fluoride-free toothpaste, if you aren’t predisposed to cavities to also reduce fluoride exposure.
Avoid or minimize big game fish consumption like ahi tuna, tilefish, swordfish, Chilean seabass and marlin due to their high levels of metals and PCBs.
Avoid inflammatory trans fats and AGEs found in vegetable oils and processed foods.
Microwaving food in plastic Tupperware and covering food with paper towels is all too common these days, but is something you should strictly cease from doing because chemicals leach from the plastics and paper towel into your food.
Additionally, plastic water bottles and the lining of canned foods have BPA, a forbidding endocrine disruptor. Your plastic coffee lid even contains BPA and when it is exposed to scorching hot and acidic environment (from coffee or soda), you are facing a major source of BPA consumption. Even the thermal receipt paper you touch after making a purchase has BPA.
Then there are the sun’s UV rays….
This is just a short list, but you get the idea.
Back to our weekend splurge
Why did we feel better if these juices are not really “detoxing” any of these toxins? I would say they are indirectly helping your liver become more efficient in detoxification. All of these juices have one major thing in common - they provide vitamins and minerals. That is nourishment for your liver. When toxins flow to the liver they undergo what’s called phase I detoxification where specifically vitamins B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, glutathione and flavonoids (plant chemicals) assist in the process. The process yields the toxin slightly more water soluble.
Then in phase II, these compounds are made even more water soluble for safe elimination through the bile, urine or stool. The only way this phase can operate optimally is if it has enough of nutrients like vitamin B5, B12, vitamin C, magnesium and a few amino acids.
Without any of these nutrients, your liver becomes very inefficient in removing these toxins and instead they back up and cause all sorts of havoc. This is the onset of a plethora of tissue damaging free radicals and potentially symptoms you might face (i.e. lousiness, fatigue).
So, the reason why you feel on top of the world again after a juice “cleanse” is due to two reasons. You are providing your body with its insatiable desire for nutrients. The other reason why you feel awesome is because of what you are not providing your body with – processed, toxin-laden junk food.
At the end of the day, you really just wasted money on a futile product sold to you by a bunch of charlatans. You could have just as easily obtained these desired nutrients (without the excess sugar in the product and thereby increasing the toxin burden) from whole foods in your own kitchen.
My recommendation for “detoxing” would include the following. Pick a day that focuses on mostly liquids from vegetable juice, some fruit juices, lots of water, a light whole meal with protein and fiber. Take your multivitamin, omega-3s, probiotics, etc. No exercise either. Just relax and take a soothing hot bath. That is all. This will satisfy your cells, regenerate the action of your liver and make you feel enlivened again, free of charge.
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