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The Toxic Truth About Detox Products

FACT CHECKED
  Published on December 31st, 2020
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified April 15th, 2021
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Whether you have tried one or not, chances are, you are familiar with detox products like teas and cleanses. You probably know they help remove toxins from the body. Some of these products claim just removing toxins from your colon can lead to pounds lost, while other teas claim to boost your metabolism.

The problem is, millions of people know this to be true, but the idea of detoxing (aside from the natural processes your body undergoes) is a complete myth. (1)

 

What are Toxins?

When you refer to “toxins” what are you really talking about? More than likely, you are referring to free radicals, pollution, smoke, pesticides, etc. The wonderful thing about your body is you have a built-in toxin filter– it’s called your liver! (2)  Unless you have an underlying condition like cirrhosis or fibrosis, your liver naturally filters out toxins.

 

How Do You Detox?

The liver directs blood from the portal vein and hepatic arteries. The hepatic vein then carries blood to the inferior vena cava where it is transported to the heart to be reoxygenated. As your blood enters your liver, proteins are known as metallothioneins and other enzymes and electrolytes work hard to eliminate anything harmful from your body. (3)

Toxic metabolites are also filtered out through your lymphatic system, kidneys, respiratory system, and intestines.

Also, it should be noted that you can not sweat out toxins. A common myth surrounding detoxing is that you can work out (or visit a sauna) and sweat out toxins.  However, the only thing eliminated in your perspiration is water and minerals.  (4)

 

So, What About Detox Teas & Juice Cleanses?

Drinking lemon juice and cayenne pepper may make you lose weight fast, but you’re not removing any toxins. You are simply losing water weight because you’re drinking a lot of water and not eating. (5)

Don’t waste your money on cleanses that may prove to do more harm than good! These detox drinks severely lack protein, vital nutrients, and electrolytes.

Furthermore, the laxative effect may lead to severe dehydrates, hyponatremia, metabolic acidosis, and severe gut microbiome disruptions. (6)

 

Concluding Thoughts

At the end of the day, remember your body is pretty good at defending itself. You have a built-in detox system and there is no need to waste money buying products that may do more harm than good. If you are looking to increase energy levels and reduce inflammation, simply eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep! (1)

 

References

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. “The Dubious Practice of Detox.” Harvard Health, 2008, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox.
  2. Grant, D M. “Detoxification Pathways in the Liver.” Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1991, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1749210.
  3. Lautt, W. Wayne. “Hepatic Circulation: Physiology and Pathophysiology.” NCBI, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53069/.
  4. McSwiney, B A. “The Composition of Human Perspiration (Samuel Hyde Memorial Lecture): (Section of Physical Medicine).” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 1934, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2205022/.
  5. Obert, Jonathan, et al. “Popular Weight Loss Strategies: a Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques.” Current Gastroenterology Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 Nov. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29124370.
  6. “‘Detoxes’ and ‘Cleanses.’” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Sept. 2017, nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses.

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