Myth: You need to detox regularly
Finding the truth on the interest about this, what might seem like, simple topic is like finding a needle in a haystack… Near impossible. But lucky for you, I am going to break it down and tell all.
So let’s start with the truth…
That’s it, plain and simple. But let’s break down why?
The mechanisms of the Liver and Kidneys in your body:
There is good reason that the liver has been nicknamed the detoxification organ. The liver works in two phases to remove unwanted chemicals and other toxins from your body.
The reason some most toxic chemicals are difficult for the body to excrete is because they are fat soluble, meaning they only dissolve in fatty or oily solutions. The liver has the ability to break down every chemical, pesticide, hormone and any other toxin you can think of through specialized enzyme pathways. Essentially the liver has the ability to convert these fat-soluble chemicals into water-soluble compounds (metabolites), which can then be passed through the kidneys and removed via urine.
Phase I – Oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis
This phase of detoxification is catalyzed by enzymes in a group called Mixed Function Oxidase enzymes (MFO). Basically these enzymes live in the liver cells and their activity can be induced by exposure to certain chemicals. Essentially this phase allows the body to convert toxin chemicals into less harmful one (a reminder that everything in your body, everything that you touch etc is made of chemicals – not all of them are toxic!).
These toxic chemicals are converted through processes such as oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis and during the process free radicals are formed. Antioxidants then attached the free radicals neutralising them and the less harmful chemical can be moved through the kidneys or colon to be excreted. If there is a high level of toxic chemicals in the body it activates phase II to assist with the removal.
Phase II – Conjugation
‘Conjugation – The formation of link between existing things.’
Just as the definition suggestions this phase involves the liver attaching a substance to the toxic chemical or drug to make them less harmful. This joining of another substance forms a water-soluble compound so it can be excreted through the kidneys in urine, or the colon in bile.
The only time a health professional might recommend a medical detox be when your liver and kidneys are not working properly, but it takes a lot for this to happen. Did you know you could survive and function normally with only half your liver and with only 1 kidney?
Yes it is possible to over load these detoxification in your body, but at this stage, no amount of celery juice or ‘skinny tea’ is going to help you. By the time your body is overloaded, you would require medical intervention. If you are experiencing headaches, hormonal imbalances, severe fatigue or any other symptom that may be worrying you it is best to seek the advice of a doctor to discuss your options as you may end up doing yourself more harm though ‘home remedies’.
So why then do we have so many products, programs and health bloggers preaching that we need to detox?
Well as with most things that are popular, there is some clever marketing being done behind the scenes. There are no regulations in the social media world on what is put out there. Dieticians, and some health professionals need to be registered. But at the moment nutritionist do not need to be. Someone can finish a 6week course and call them selves a nutritionist; meanwhile it took me 6 years at one of the top Universities.
Companies that sell juice cleanses, ‘skinny teas’ and diets sell you a whole lot of empty promises. The main reason you will see results for these are they are calorie restrictive, so you may lose weight OR they work on a laxative effect that can show short term effects but used in the long term can be quite detrimental to your health.
These Diets and Cleanses are not sustainable and will do shit all for your liver and kidneys. The only thing you will lose is a whole heap of money.
There are some things you can do to assist the high functioning of your liver to detoxify your body. So the All you need to do to support your liver and kidneys is to eat a wholesome diet of vegetables and good sources of proteins and increase your water intake, particularly when you are on medication.