It’s something our bodies do all the time!
I wrote a little note recently about some of the myths that surround food and as a result had several people ask me if my comments to the effect that you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day and that sugar does not make children hyper were actually true.
I was, of course, deeply miffed that anyone should disbelieve any of my words, but having at last overcome my bout of miffedness I can return to the theme and say, yes, both were true. The notion that sugar leads to observable hyperactivity in children and the notion that we need to drink all this water, are simply inventions of the fake news industry.
And since I have returned to this theme, in order to answer that point I have decided to go a little further. This piece of fake health news is, I must admit, one I didn’t know until recently, but it was pointed out to me following the last article – and I’ve checked it out, and again I can assure you, what I write below is indeed true.
The notion that our bodies should go through an occasional or even regular periods of “detox” is a load of bunkum.
What is true is that most of us living in Western societies have lots of undesirable stuff inside us. There is a truly exciting volume (well, no, actually a rather boring volume) called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which is published in the US, which shows that virtually everyone has a body packed with nasty things. If you think about the poisons, pesticides and pollutants in the atmosphere it is easy to see why.
The notion of the detox in order to get rid of all this seems fairly logical and reasonable. But beneath it hide two questions: do any of the popular methods of detox work, and even if they do work, do they actually do us any good?
We have inside us things called the liver, the kidneys and a rather nifty operation called the digestive system – all of which are incorporated into the human body in order to help us break down food and get rid of any bits that we shouldn’t have ingested in the first place.
Indeed if one thinks about it for a moment, although industrialisation brought us within reach of many new toxins, there were plenty enough in the environment of stone age people, and for them the walk to the chemist to get a remedy when something went wrong was a bit of a problem (what with there being no chemists).
But the problem arises with some items we ingest known as “fat soluble chemicals” which can take a while to be processed by the body – and so can build up inside us. They can hang around for up to ten years in many cases.
So, surely it must be a good idea to get rid of these nasties. And yes it is. But the problem is that doing what the detox diets suggests (such as having a spot of time only consuming liquids) has no effect at all. Rather boringly the best way to get rid of “fat soluble chemicals” is to stop ingesting them for six to ten years.
And unfortunately, that is not only boring; it is also impossible.
Worse, the notion that one can go on a diet (i.e. have a period of significantly reduced food, rather than switching to foods which are better for you) can actually have the opposite effect than the one you want. Sudden changes to our diets can raise the level of such things as pesticides in the blood dramatically, which is why many people actually feel far worse during and after a period of attempting to lose weight quickly. It is also why some people eat so much when the diet is over.
In short, sudden dieting can cause far more problems than the detox programmes claim to be getting rid of. The reason for this is that the body is programmed to react to sudden shortages of food and drink and to adjust accordingly.
Unfortunately, that adjustment programme was built into us as we evolved several million years ago when food supply was erratic. It was highly relevant then, in the era when food supply could be erratic. It is not relevant now. But the adjustment programme is still there.
Sadly, the most common toxic chemicals around in our society (nicotine and alcohol) are the ones that people either can’t give up or return to quickly after giving up for a while.
The only way forward to a healthier body is to get your body weight to an appropriate level by having a balanced diet, taking serious exercise at least four days a week, and cutting out the nicotine and alcohol. If that seems too much, then start up the exercise regime, cut out the nicotine, and reduce the alcohol. It’s not perfect but for most people it is good enough.
But, of course there is still a problem with this. Taking a detox programme for a week or two and then going back to normal just seems so much easier.