THE DETOX LIE
You probably have heard of it, or even tried it, so what’s detox?
Detox is the short form of detoxification and there are 2 meanings.
Since am a medical doctor, I will start with the medical detox; which is a form of treatment administered to alcoholics and other drug addicts to avoid the symptoms of physical withdrawal from the substances.
The second form of detox, also known as body cleanse is a DECEPTIVE notion/belief offered by alternative medicine folks, often as a money-making product. This fake detox is a trending topic due to aggressive marketing and is the subject of my discussion.
Most detox/ cleanse diets entail a period of about 2 days to 2 weeks of restricted calorie (usually below 1200calories) vegetable and certain fruits smoothies or juices, others offer various tablets of unspecified ingredients. However, it is not clear what specific toxins are targeted and how to ascertain whether the said toxins are cleared.
- SHOULD I DO A DETOX?
As a medical doctor and consultant physician/internist, who has been consulting on fitness matters, I get many questions about detox. More often than not it’s perceived as a quick-fix weight-loss strategy! But is it?
- THE QUICK-FIX MENTALITY COULD BE THE VERY ENEMY TO YOUR QUEST FOR A LEAN BODY!!!
First and foremost, the detox craze has no scientific evidence or medical basis whatsoever.
It is impossible to undo years of unhealthy choices with a few days of exclusive juice consumption.
Secondly the body has its own in-built mechanisms such as the lungs, liver, kidneys and the skin to get rid of toxins. If these systems fail, then only medical interventions (such as hemodialysis for kidney failure) and not vegetable juices can salvage the situation.
YES, if by detox you mean quitting smoking, drugs of abuse, and cutting on alcohol consumption etc., then go ahead.
- DETOX AND WEIGHT-LOSS
You may have noticed that your body mass index(BMI), shows that you are overweight or even obese, or you simply don’t like all the body folds reflecting back on your bathroom mirror. I understand that a promise to “lose 4 kg in one week” can be very appealing. Many people have actually lost the 4kgs, but what is really happening?
Let us examine the science.
DETOX CAUSES WATER WEIGHT LOSS AS OPPOSED TO LOSING FAT: Below is the explanation.
Our liver and muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen and each gram of glycogen requires 4 grams of water for storage.
In between meals, when the blood sugar levels decrease, a certain hormone called glucagon is released and it causes glycogen to be released for energy. However, in the subsequent meals, the glycogen stores are replenished. Whenever we put our bodies through extreme caloric restrictions, such as fasting or detox, the body uses its glycogen stores and this is accompanied by loss of water that the stored sugar was holding onto…………. hence water-weight loss.
WEIGHT REGAIN AFTER DETOX
This phenomenon is the norm. Since the weight lost during detox was predominantly water attached to glycogen, upon resumption of ordinary diet, the liver and muscles are replenished and voila, it comes back with “water-weight” and at times extra weight gain.
IS DETOX HARMFUL?
Prolonged detox programs have been associated with dehydration, dizziness with or without fainting episodes, nausea, low -energy levels and easy fatigue. It may also slow down one’s metabolism hence promote ease in gaining unwanted weight.
Eating more vegetables and fruits, and drinking adequate amounts of water is not bad practice. However, this should not be done at the expense of essential nutrients.
Most of us would want to practice all manner of dietary indiscretions and still maintain lean bodies. In addition to that, many of us are living sedentary lifestyles with little physical activity.
Consequently, we want to imagine that body fat accumulated as a result of the aforementioned habits can be fixed with a few days of teatox/detox pills or juices! This just does not work!
WHAT IS A HEALTHY DIET?
A healthy diet or good nutrition is one that can be sustained long-term and balances out necessary nutrients with an individual’s caloric requirements. It incorporates healthy fats, protein (plant as well as lean animal sources) and whole carbohydrates matched to energy needs, plus vitamins and minerals whose sources vary with fruits and vegetables being rich sources.
BOTTOMLINE………. away from detox.
Eat a wide variety of foods in right portions and limit the intake of junk.
Secondly, move your body; walk, dance, go hiking, swimming or cycling, join an aerobics class or do home based workouts, lift some weights………. whatever it is that you fancy, GET UP AND MOVE SOME MUSCLE ON A REGULAR BASIS.