Is ‘Detox’ More Than Just A Buzzword?

Is ‘Detox’ More Than Just A Buzzword?

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“Detox” has become somewhat of a bad word in the health space. There will always be programs and supplements designed to sell you products that you don’t need and wouldn’t buy otherwise. Unfortunately, detox is often depicted as this type of pseudo product. On the other hand, true detoxification is not only a real thing, but a crucial component in any healing journey.

Photo: Flickr.com/Marco Verch

Toxins

No matter how clean people live their lives, it’s almost impossible to completely rid the body of toxins, as rampant as they are in the environment, food, water, and medication. One report released by the CDC counted 212 chemicals found in people’s blood and urine. This data positively supports the idea of giving the kidneys and liver a rest through purposeful and active detoxing.

While the kidneys remove waste products through urine, the liver really removes the majority of offending toxins. Filtering blood and breaking down toxins can be very taxing on the body’s largest organ. This requires proper nutrients to help support liver function.

These nutrients include:

  • B-vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid)
  • Food rich in Vitamins A, C, and E (oranges, carrots, wheat germ, almonds)
  • Phospholipids – found in organ and lean meats, fish, eggs, and soybeans
  • Branched chain amino acids – found in dairy, red meat, eggs, and whey protein
  • Agglutination – found in fruits and vegetables, such as, watermelon, walnuts, asparagus, and avocado
  • Fish oil
  • Indole-3-carbinol – found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
  • Limonene – found in tangerines, oranges, dill and caraway seeds

Many studies have supported the efficacy of these nutrients in aiding proper liver detoxing.

Photo: Flickr.com/AJ

The Crux Of The Problem

The main argument by sources against detoxification is that if a person cannot describe the exact pathway of how a product detoxifies the body, then the claim of detoxification is illegitimate. However, just because a seller or manufacturer of a detoxifying product can’t say exactly how it works metabolically, doesn’t mean that the product fails to support or strengthen the functions of the detoxifying organs.  This also doesn’t mean that scientific evidence to support that claim does not exist. For example, there is a plethora of research evidence on spirulina that explains how it works by containing cyanobacteria, which acts as a “bio-sorbent” agent for heavy metals in the blood. Through ion-exchange binding, cyanobacteria can significantly reduce heavy metal toxicity.

Another major claim made by anti-detox sources is that drug therapies approved by the FDA and administered by licensed physicians are the only legitimate way to detoxify a person. Think about it – it isn’t so crazy to think that healthy foods help to enhance the body’s own natural functions. Surely, the only way for the body to truly cleanse is not through man-made therapies.

Photo: Flickr.com/Parker Knight

More Disagreement

Another argument against natural detoxification methods, such as colon-cleansing, scorns the idea that toxins sitting in the colon, waiting to be expelled, can actually be reabsorbed back into the body, perpetuating further toxicity. However, seeing as rectal suppositories are used to administer medications through the colon to rapidly enter the bloodstream, it is not so far-reaching to believe that toxic by-products waiting in the colon to be removed have no chance of crossing back into the blood again.

Photo: Flickr.com/Marta Kat

Common Ground

On a positive note, the two opposing groups can at least both agree that the body, as amazing as it is, has powerful and efficient methods to detoxify itself without the use of supportive supplements or detox spa visits. They can also both agree that eating healthy foods, versus over-processed, unhealthy foods, will help the body’s own natural detox pathways to function more efficiently. The take-home message is that detoxification is an everyday function of certain organs, but there are certainly ways to enhance the process.

Should You Detox?

The short answer is that it’s never wrong to want to promote optimal body function- the question becomes ‘how’ to do so. Proper research will help determine if supplements or detox aids are right for you, and if so, which ones. Be sure to consult with your doctor before undertaking a detox program of any kind.