Post No.: 0184
Many blogs on the Internet promote pseudoscientific remedies and health fads but I hope you realise by now that this is no ordinary blog because Fluffystealthkitten and I care about the hard science over the fast buck (or over any buck for that matter).
‘Detoxifying’ technically means removing toxins from the body (e.g. alcohol or other drugs or toxic chemicals after an overdose). But the ‘detox industry’ promotes pseudoscientific claims such as promises that a detox will help people to lose weight, make it fine to live an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle without costs, or even improve fertility and cure cancers. These ‘detox’, ‘flush’ or ‘cleanse’ products or services come in various forms, such as topical creams, drinks, food or bizarre procedures that involve tubes that go up the bum hole. (No thanks, unless it’s absolutely necessary for a genuine medical emergency, but that’s highly unlikely!)
Laxatives are often used, but these can cause diarrhoea and in turn dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Juices are also common, but some drinks that are high in oxalate (e.g. spinach, kale, buckwheat) are risky for those who have kidney problems if consumed in large amounts. Fasting is a tricky one though because there are some health benefits to occasional fasting. However, since fasting comes in many different forms – some potentially beneficial, some potentially harmful – it’s best to consult your doctor if you plan on fasting, especially if you have any specific dietary requirements.
We can overindulge on the odd occasion (e.g. Christmas times or once or twice a month) and our bodies will naturally cope fine, but people on these detox regimes are often led to believe that they can regularly overindulge and it’ll all be fine for their long-term health because there is this ‘quick-fix solution’ to cleanse or rapidly reverse the effects of these overindulgences. So there are two things to understand – you don’t need to proactively detox your body because your body (chiefly your liver, kidneys and bowel) will naturally do this if you simply consume a varied and balanced diet that particularly includes lots of water and fibre; and although an overindulgence now and again is fine, it won’t become guilt-free if you regularly overindulge because there is no currently-known, safe and quick fix for undoing the effects of a sustained unhealthy lifestyle.
Despite the scientific consensus against most of the claims of the detox industry, detoxing is still popular in the free market after many years. This does reveal though that people do know without confusion that overindulging too often is bad or unhealthy, and that they are in fact overindulging themselves – otherwise people wouldn’t seek to remedy the situation with such detoxes i.e. one wouldn’t seek to rectify something unless one felt that this something was wrong and needed rectifying (even if this rectification might involve wrecking their rectum by sticking something directly up the wrong way(!))
So these people know that what they’re doing to their own bodies is unhealthy (e.g. eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, smoking) i.e. education is not really the problem here. But instead of wishing to put in the time and effort to change their lifestyles to achieve a truly healthy outcome, they’re seduced by the quick-fix claims of certain commercials, celebrities and social media influencers who simply want them to part with their money i.e. not wanting to put in the time and effort for one’s health but desperately seeking shortcuts is the real problem here.
And usually what happens is that if one product doesn’t work then we’ll try something else that also claims to be a relative quick fix for the money. We don’t and shouldn’t accept governments giving us this-and-that but never really solving our problems – yet many of us will accept commercial industries that give us this-and-that but never really solving our problems. We’ll just blissfully continue trusting the BS and buy something else from them again in the hope that ‘this time we’ll have found the elixir’!
So some of us have been led to think that we can ‘have our cake and eat it too’ by abusing our bodies yet all that damage can be quickly undone with just a bit of ‘detoxing’ now and again. On the other hand, some people who are, or were, otherwise healthy in their lifestyles use detox products as a precursor to going towards the other unhealthy extreme (e.g. anorexia). Their vulnerabilities are being exploited by the BS claims of detox products.
Good health is not about aiming for any extreme or going from one extreme to the other – ‘too healthy’ is simply unhealthy, and bingeing then dieting or detoxing in a constant yoyo pattern stresses bodily systems. It’s akin to constantly going from hot to cold rather than just keeping warm. It’s not about needing everything that’s healthful at once either (e.g. broccoli is good for us, and so is oily fish and milk – but we don’t need to have them all together at once in a blitzed-up shake(!)) And taking too many vitamins at once won’t make up for not taking enough at other times – in the same way that over-drinking water some days won’t make up for dehydration at other days.
‘Clean eating’ is described by some dieticians as an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It’s often used as a mask, or can be a trigger, for an eating disorder. But true healthy eating is not about having a lot of the healthy things – it’s about having enough and not too much; and you also cannot deprive your body of what it wants then all of a sudden try to make up for it all in one go. This strategy doesn’t work with vitamins, minerals, water, exercise or even air. All of these things are good or necessary for our very survival but we don’t need endless amounts of them, plus we cannot healthily deprive ourselves of them for a month and then try to make up for them in one day – it’s about getting a bit of exercise, nutrients and other needs consistently. In the same manner, it’s not recommended to abstain from alcohol for 6 days just to save it all for the 7th day every week. (For more about fad diets, ‘superfoods’ and ‘clean eating’, please see Post No.: 0152.)
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing – it leads to broad strokes and jumped-to conclusions. For example, some foods lose fewer vitamins the less they’re cooked but this doesn’t mean zero cooking (i.e. raw) is necessarily therefore best, because some other vitamins aren’t optimally accessible without cooking to break the food down to make the vitamins in them easier to access (more bioavailable). (If boiling vegetables, you might want to save the liquid as e.g. stock for sauces or broths, because much of the water-soluble vitamins will be there. Some people have concerns about pesticide residues but in regulated markets these levels should be way below harmful levels for humans. Just rinse the vegetables before use.) And just because some foods (generally some vegetables) are better if they’re not overcooked, it doesn’t necessarily mean that raw is best for eggs or meats too. So don’t over-extrapolate what you’ve heard – learn things to apply on a case-by-case basis. In this context of detoxification – toxins are indeed by definition bad and need to be expelled, but this doesn’t mean these detox products or services on the market will help. There is no need or benefit to detoxing the body according to the methods and claims promoted by the detox industry. The body will naturally detoxify itself given time away from hard-to-process substances like alcohol.
The market has been demanding for, or at least hoping for, quick-fix, low-effort, ‘detox’-type solutions to achieving good health for a long time now when they haven’t been working, they often cost a lot, are sometimes even potentially harmful (e.g. consumed activated charcoal or clay products will also absorb desirable micronutrients and not just any undesirable chemicals so that the body is deprived of them too) and when there are already real solutions that have consistently been scientifically-proven to work, even though they’re not quite as quick-fix or low-effort (i.e. the same old robust advice of a balanced diet, regular physical exercise and rest).
As a consequence, the market has been (pretending to) supply for this demand (‘pretending’ because these highly profitable products haven’t worked so far – their claims have been exaggerated, or would remain to be without adequately-enforced external advertising regulations). Indeed, the entire ‘clean eating’ industry – or whatever name is trending to call the same over-obsessions with looking for generally quick-fix answers to achieving good health – has arguably overall been a failure for those who need to sustainably change their lifestyles the most. Obesity rates have risen despite the huge growth of the diet industry as a whole! Okay, correlation doesn’t necessarily indicate causation, but a government would be criticised for an employment strategy that correlated with rising unemployment figures, for instance! (Re-branding is a common strategy for pseudoscientific or fraudulent industries – they re-brand after they’ve been sussed out by proper science and/or consumer protection enforcement, but they’re frequently the same underneath the name changes. There’s no advantage to changing names if a name has a good reputation – in fact, if something has a favourable reputation then it’d likely be a disadvantage to change its name.)
Those who are medically healthy yet occasionally use detox products or services are healthy despite taking those detox products or services i.e. the rest of their lifestyle is sufficiently healthy enough hence they’re just wasting their money on those detox products or services. Those who manage to lose weight while on a detox programme may do so because of the restricted diet and reduced calories of the programme rather than anything else special going on from the detox.
Due to our instincts, I don’t think this industry will ever stop – consumers will continue to crave for lazy ‘miracle treatments’ and businesses will continue to exploit these desires by selling what are essentially ‘snake oil’ products to such people. And in this social media age too – business is booming.
So it’s up to us to try not to be one of those who are being exploited or duped.
Woof. Future technologies and products may scientifically prove to be effective, safe and a quick fix for reversing the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle but nothing comes close yet. So Furrywisepuppy advocates the prevention of obesity, sedentary lifestyles, excessive alcohol consumption and so forth rather than (attempted) treatments or cures after problems have already started, and this all starts from young.