Detoxes and cleanses are pointless

Fuelling Your Body


Sunday, August 26, 2018

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DETOXES and cleanses are nonsense. Sounds controversial? Well, it is if you are speaking with some wellness experts or gurus, but not if you are speaking with a researcher or a physiologist.

If your goal is to rid your body of toxins, detoxification and cleansing diets, supplements, drinks and treatments are pointless.

Sadly, it is true that they have become increasingly popular. Many educated and sensible people purchase products and services with the promise of eliminating harmful toxins from their bodies. Utilising some short-term dietary change, rub, soak, “wash out”, or laxative, their claims often include:

• “Cleansing” the blood;

• Forcing or encouraging the expulsion of toxins through sweat, faeces and/or urine;

• Flushing out toxins;

• Drawing out toxins;

• Stimulating the organs to process toxins; and

• Allowing the organs to rest.

The concept is that your body needs help ridding itself of tenacious toxins and materials absorbed or ingested from the environment and through lifestyle choices.

After the detox or cleanse of these pollutants, you should have a general improvement in feeling with a reduction of the likelihood of illnesses, ranging from stress, obesity, digestive problems, inflammation, fatigue, allergies, and more.

How are these treatments administered?

Detoxing involves some level of fasting or avoiding specific foods, coffee, smoking, alcohol, and refined sugar, and ingesting some fresh juices, teas, herbs, supplements, or other concoctions.

Some versions include laxatives, enemas, colon cleanses, and exercises. By some reports, people feel lighter, more energetic and focused after “a cleanse”.

What really detoxifies the human body?

The reality of detoxification is we all have very efficient organs and systems which are responsible for the cleaning of our system. These include:

• The liver: The second-largest organ in the human body, and for good reason. It filters all the blood coming from the digestive tract before it continues to the rest of the body. It also detoxifies medications and chemicals. The liver constantly filters 1.4 litres of blood every minute of your life. Separating the toxins in phase one of its actions, and in phase two, adding chemicals to make it possible to excrete them.

• The kidneys: They filter waste products (mostly using metabolism) from the blood, including urea, uric acid, creatine, sulphate, excess minerals such as sodium and potassium.

• Additionally, the intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin are involved in the removal of toxins.

What are the facts?

There is no reliable peer-reviewed clinical research with relevant sample sizes, control groups or test durations to definitively support commercial and home detoxes and cleanses. Most of the evidence in support of detoxes are purely anecdotal or correlative.

In fact, researchers warn that the trend may be harmful. They caution that these cleanses:

• May lower body weight in the short term, but will more likely promote extreme weight fluctuations and metabolic disorders;

• Can prove harmful to people with certain medical conditions and can be quite dangerous for diabetics;

• Are all hype with no unique medical benefits;

• Are positively useless for cleaning toxins. Your body will take very good care of itself, as your parents' bodies have and their parents, and so on;

• Laxatives may damage your all-important microbiome (good gut bacteria/flora);

• May negatively affect electrolyte balances;

• Create a false short-term sense of wellness, leaving long-term deplorable habits intact;

• Distract from actual health promoting lifestyle improvements.

There is not even one benefit which is not attainable with a balanced, healthy diet minus the risks and false promises.

Why do they appear to work?

There are two reasons why detoxes appear to work. Firstly, not unlike how people believed that cigarettes were healthy for the better part of the 20th century, the industry spread the idea to sell their products, and even doctors promoted the idea.

My grandfather was instructed by his doctor to start smoking to reduce his allergic reactions to the paints with which he worked. Eventually the placebo effect takes over where, because they were told of the benefit, you begin to believe it even if nothing happened.

Secondly, if you have a lifestyle of poor eating and behavioural habits, then, suddenly you commit your mind to fasting, cutting out the excess calories, sugars, flour, and much more, and begin drinking more water, teas, herbs, and fruit blends, it is natural that you will begin to feel better. Not because of any detoxification, your body has been doing that all along, but, rather, because you have reduced the mess you have been stuffing into your body, for the duration of the “cleanse”.

The only sensible option

If you feel something is critically wrong, see your physician; otherwise, simply live clean. It is better for you in every way.

Yes, your behaviours, addictions and lifestyle may make this challenging and may make occasional fake “cleanses” more appealing, but they are truly pointless and short-sighted.

It is safer, healthier and much wiser to continuously live a lifestyle which helps you to shun the harmful foods and habits, and offers you the healthy clean nutrients you need and deserve, working with your natural-born, highly functional systems of cleansing.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at

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