Sunday, February 23, 2020

Is Detoxing Healthy?

Have you heard of people going on a Detox Diet?  A guy at the gym says he detoxes every January.  For him it is a week long fast with nothing to eat.  He drinks water but his main source of calories is a bit of real juice to drink. Usually during this detox week, he has very little energy and feels light headed.  What a surprise.  When one doesn’t fuel their body, they will not have the energy for exercise and because of low blood sugar can feel lightheaded.  Is there really any reason a person should “detox”?  Is it healthy?  Are there health risks?

The Mayo Clinic has some good information on Detox Diets.  

Why do some people want to “detox” their body?  

Some people think because our environment has pesticides and our food is contaminated, they need to cleanse themselves of harmful chemicals.  Yes, there is some mercury in fish, arsenic in rice and they do use pesticides on the foods we eat.  But does one need to go on a “detox” diet to get rid of these substances.  And, do any of the detox methods work?  Our bodies already work to remove toxic substances, so is “detoxing” helpful?  According to the Mayo Clinic, little scientific evidence exists to show any positive results of “detoxing”.   

What is detoxing and what are Detox Diets?

People “detox” in a variety of ways.  They are trying to remove any toxins in their body.  Some fast for a day or more.   Some fast for a few days, then add back real juice and some raw vegetables.  Some add herbs or other substances to their detox regimen.  Some companies advertise “detox” products and they may contain some harmful ingredients.  One wants to avoid unpasteurized juices that may contain harmful bacteria, avoid “detox” juices made of spinach or beets.  Drinking large quantities of spinach or beet juice can be hard on one’s kidneys as both contain oxalates.  Diabetics need to be aware that going on fasting regimens may adversely affect their blood sugar control.  

Our bodies are “detoxing” every day and no special “detox” program is needed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, our kidneys and liver are two organs that filter and naturally eliminate any toxins we may have ingested.  The liver can take the toxins, convert them into forms that our kidneys can get rid of.  

What is better than “detoxing”?
  • Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a way to keep your kidneys and liver healthy.
  • Fluids:  Drink plenty of fluids like plain water, to keep your kidneys healthy. 
  • Fruits and Vegetables:  Wash fruits and vegetables before eating to get rid of or reduce the pesticides.  
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Fish and Mercury:  To cut back on mercury in fish, avoid King Mackerel, Swordfish, Tile fish, or Orange Roughy.  Low mercury fish/seafood include shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, salmon, flounder, sole, trout, perch, haddock and sardines.  We want fish in our diet as it has so many health benefits. 
  • Microwave using glass containers:  Microwave foods in glass containers, not plastic containers to avoid release of chemicals like BPA into the food.  According to Harvard, some of the chemicals in plastic containers can leach out into food and beverages.  “This leaching can occur even faster and to a greater degree when plastic is exposed to heat.  This means you might be getting every higher dose of potentially harmful chemicals simply by microwaving your leftovers in a plastic container.”  So, maybe better than detoxing, is to invest in some glass containers to reheat food.
Use glass containers to reheat foods in the microwave.
So, skip the detox.  Instead do 3 things:  1) Eat more fruits and vegetables (after you wash them).  2) Microwave your food in glass containers and 3) Enjoy some sparkling water.  



Sources:  Clinic, Fish, Mercury, Orange Roughy, Harvard   Image sources:  fruit, containers, Water

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