The Truth Behind Detox

This was article was originally created on August 7, 2015 and posted on GainesvilleScene.com.

There comes a point in every person’s life when you suddenly form an eccentric obsession over what is happening inside your body.

Maybe the obsession began after you watched the viral video that documented the lack of decomposition in McDonalds’ fries. Or maybe you clung onto some form of paranoia after spending a day in a restroom with your head in a toilet because you went to the Taco Bell drive through at 3 a.m.

Either way, all of us have come to this point, and it makes perfect sense.

The world is filled with toxins. Some toxins form in our bodies naturally (urea, nitrogen, lactic acid and carbon dioxide), while others enter our bodies unnaturally (unfiltered water, pesticides and anything on the dollar menu). It’s almost impossible not to think of our bodies as  walking trash cans.

So what do we do to tidy up the mess? We detox.

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All detox diets are different. But the general gist of a detox diet involves drinking water jammed with fruits and vegetables or a juice product with very minimal food intake. The thought behind this is that the water and/or juice will flush out your system. Some detox diets last three days, while others last a week or more.

But no matter what type of detox diet you partake in, one question still remains. Are detox diets effective and what is the actual scientific proof behind them?

The true definition of detoxification is the biochemical process that transforms non-water-soluble toxins and metabolites into water-soluble compounds that can be excreted. Or as new-school Bill Nye would say, it turns the shit inside your body into the shit outside your body.

So the real question is: does detox hold up to its title?

Most of the people in the science world don’t think so.

Ronni Litz Julien, a nutritionist, health expert, registered dietitian and author, is a firm believer in the effectiveness of our body’s machines.

Julien states that our bodies are completely capable of getting rid of the toxins via the liver and colon. In the world of science, detox diets are not necessary or even proven for that matter. And in some cases, this type of dieting is shown to be unhealthy when it’s long term.

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Julien states that during a detox, you are getting certain vitamins, but not enough.

“The body needs 55 different nutrients on a daily basis, so when you remove 40 of those nutrients every day, it could be a problem long term,” Julien said.

When the body is going through a long cleanse, you are mainly causing dehydration and malnutrition. Your body needs carbohydrates as an efficient source of fuel. It needs protein to regulate sugar and energy levels, build an immune system and build cells. You even need fat in order to create healthy fatty acids and provide insulation – you know, for the winter. So, once you go on a long term cleanse, you aren’t getting any of this.

A short term cleanse, ones which last for around three days, won’t cause any serious dehydration, malnutrition or other grave side effects, but there is no actual scientific proof of this diet working. You may feel headachy and tired, but that’s about it.

Julien states that people with effective digestive system don’t really need help with these detox diets. The work is basically done for you.

And if you’re cleansing to shed those extra pounds for a hot night on the town, you may still be at a loss.

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In all of her 30 years of being a registered dietitian, Julien can guarantee that 100 percent of people will put back the weight they lost because cleanses do not reduce your body fat. The only way to efficiently lose weight is to balance the amount and quality of calories verse calorie expenditure. You need to develop a healthy lifestyle and stick with it.

Detoxing for a few days or weeks won’t help your overall health. It’s a distraction from the bigger picture: real dieting.

“I’ve done a million different things to see if I could beat the system, and there is just no way,” Julien said.

So, the truth is, the detox fad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s time we stop taking the easiest way out and start taking real care of ourselves.

Our livers and colon can handle their own; you guys are the real MVPs.