What is detox? Is it necessary? Is it a good idea? What is the goal? Is it a scam? Does it work?
These are all legitimate questions that should be asked. I have seen many “detox” products that make claims that sound too good to be true… most of the time, that is the case. So how do we sort through the legitimate claims and those that are trying to scam you? Well, it helps to answer the questions above.
What is detox?
That really depends on who you ask. It helps to know a little about human anatomy and physiology to answer this question. So, without getting too complicated, I will explain a little bit about the organs that assist in getting rid of the “bad” stuff that comes from what we eat, breathe, absorb, and come into contact with.
The most important “detox” organ is the liver. The liver performs hundreds of functions. This includes processing chemicals that are harmful to us in a way that our body get rid of it. We all know what happens when we drink too much alcohol. We all know that it takes time to sober up. This is the liver at work, clearing the blood of the alcohol, and getting rid of it. So, really, it’s the liver that engages in detox--not a pill, not herbs, not carbs, not a water diet (although water is necessary for all body processes), etc. In addition, too much abuse to the liver will damage it, possibly irreversibly so, decreasing its power to detoxify and perform all of its other vital functions.
Kidneys help with detoxification, too. The kidneys act as a kind of filter. They keep as much water inside of your body, while ridding your body of water-soluble wastes.
Your intestines absorb nutrients, and leave the waste products, which pass through your body. They absorb water from the food we eat. They move the waste products through. Without a healthy gut, toxins can build up. Many detox products focus solely on this. While digestion and gut health are very important, if we neglect the other major detoxifying organs, we are missing a vital part of detox.
Your skin, through sweat, can release some toxins. Skin health is important, and it plays a minor role in detox, but it should not be the focus.
Other organs are also involved, but they play more of a support role, so I will not focus on them.
Is detox necessary?
That also depends on who you ask. Remember, your body has organ systems that detox for you, so it is important. Without these organs, you would die. You don’t need a detox pill, or a detox diet. What you do need is a diet that will support the healthy function of your organs that engage in detox. You can’t expect your body to do its job if you don’t feed it what it needs. Your body does a remarkable job in surviving on relatively little, but it works better when you feed it correctly.
Is detox a good idea?
It is a better idea to eat good foods, and avoid unhealthy foods. Sometimes you can give your body a boost by feeding it a special diet that is geared to support the organs. If this is what you mean by detox, then yes it is a good idea. If you starve your body by going on a water diet (or something similar that involves very low calories) then, no, it’s not a good idea.
What is the goal in detox?
For me, the goal in a detoxification program is to support the organs of detox: the liver (mainly), kidneys, gallbladder, intestines, and skin. For some the goal may be weight loss. I don’t think that this should be the goal in detox. A good detoxification program may result in mild weight loss, but it should not be the goal. A good weight loss program may include a diet that will support detoxification, but should also include regular exercise and proper sleep.
Is detox a scam?
Sadly, there are many scams, fad diets, false claims, and ineffective “natural” remedies that are available for purchase almost everywhere you look. There are a few products out there that might actually work, but they are far and few in between. It is important to find a product that involves supporting your organs that detoxify. If you can eat the proper foods, that is the best way to detoxify. Many of the foods we eat are deficient in the trace minerals that are required for more effective detoxification. Most supplements don’t do the trick, either. A whole food supplement will be much more effective. There are a few companies out there that produce whole food supplements. My favorite is Standard Process.
Does detox work?
It does if you do it right. Remember, we want to support the body and its organs. We want to feed the body good food. Your overall health will determine how effective your body can engage in those processes--not only detoxification, but overall effectiveness in all of its processes. If you would like some guidance on the healthy way to detoxify, please contact me. In the meantime, eat lots of green leafy vegetables that support the liver like kale and beet greens, and reduce your consumption of foods that hurt the liver like alcohol, refined sugars like candy and soda, and certainly drink enough water!
Bradley Shepherd, DC
Bradley Shepherd, DC was born and raised in Utah. He graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in August 2008. He has practiced in Utah, Texas and New Mexico. He currently practices in Las Cruces, and occasionally in El Paso. He has experience with auto injury, pediatric treatment, sports injury and nutrition. He particularly enjoys the nutrition aspect of his practice, and practices telemedicine for all residents of New Mexico and Texas. When he is not practicing chiropractic or nutrition, you can find him playing his guitar. He plays with a local rock band. He lives in Las Cruces with his fiancee and his two children. He enjoys helping others with their health and wellness.