Liver Detox – Beware The Hype!
Liver cleanses are trendy these days – with a huge variety of do it- yourself detox diets on the Internet. The lemonade diet, the 48-hour detox, juice cleanses – the list goes on. All of them tout reasons why their detox protocol is better than all the others. Usually they involve buying some sort of supplements or herbal concoctions. But if you look closely you soon see that most have no scientific evidence to support their claims.
No wonder detox programs have their share of detractors. Most so-called “experts” advocating popular liver detoxes have no medical or nutritional qualifications and hence no understanding of how the liver or how the body’s detoxifications systems work. Instead of cleansing and supporting, many of these programs put stress on your liver and deprive it of the nutrients it needs to do its job.
So, who do you trust when your liver needs some TLC?
A toxic world
It is undeniable that we exist in a toxic environment: pesticides sprayed on vegetables, phthalates in plastics and cosmetics, chlorine in household cleaners, PCBs and heavy metals in farm-raised fish, and antibiotics and dioxins in commercially produced animal products are just a few examples of toxins that are in most people’s environment every day. Even those of us who take extreme care to eat only organic foods, avoid commercial cleaners, and make our own skincare products are affected by the levels of chemicals that industrial mechanisms have put into our environments.
What is detox?
Detoxification is a term given to the process of removing toxins from the body. A toxin is a poison, so it makes sense that many people are attracted to the idea of going on a detox diet to lower their levels of toxicity and improve their overall health. However, how to do this is a more controversial issue.
Keep in mind that the detoxification industry is an industry like any other, and like any industry, there are people who want to make money from your belief that you need their product. Many seemingly genuine health gurus who tout the acclaimed health benefits of liver cleanses have an underlying motivation to promote their own special detox plans – not to empower you with the knowledge of how to support your body’s own detoxification systems yourself.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Cleansing is a term that is commonly used to describe the process of cleaning one’s system by severely restricting food intake. Liver detox juice cleanses are supposed to work on the assumption that in abstaining from food, one is giving one’s system a chance to purge oneself of toxins that may have accumulated. Using the term “cleanse” is a clever choice of subliminal marketing that steers consumers towards lofty aspirations of greater purity.
But do you really need it?
Before embarking on a detox protocol, you need to understand the role the liver plays in the body and whether a detoxification diet will in fact be effective. Because many toxins are fat-soluble, large quantities of such toxins that enter the body can be stored in fat – including fat cells in the liver. However, in a healthy functioning body, which is being nourished by a balanced diet, this is rarely a problem as the liver does a very good job of discarding the toxins that enter the system in a timely manner.
More harm than good
Should you want or need to detoxify your liver, it is not quite as instant, simple and easy as spending a day or two (or ten) on a juice cleanse. Getting these fat-soluble toxins out of storage is a multi-stage affair (stay tuned for my next blog). Cleansing for a few days is unlikely to affect the liver directly and may deplete it of essential vitamins and minerals. For most of us it seems somewhat misguided to go on a cleanse regimen to clear the liver, which is probably doing a good job already!
The truth is that most detoxification diets have less of a direct effect on cleansing the liver than advocates would have you believe. After all, it is usually the more health-conscious people who are attracted to the health-boosting claims touted by detox gurus.
Detox diets are also potentially damaging, mostly because people wrongly believe that if they “do” a detox once a year, that gives them a free ticket to eat and drink whatever they like the rest of the time.
Another concern arises from the premise that when a person embarks on a detox diet, the drastic reduction in calories, fat and protein forces the body to metabolize its fat stores for energy. As the fat stores are rapidly converted into more usable energy, any fat-soluble toxins that have been stored within them are released into the bloodstream in larger amounts than is normal. This means that the liver suddenly has a massive amount to process in a short space of time.
Support your body’s ability to detox naturally with healthy eating
The purpose of the Foodwise detox plan is to allow your major organs of elimination, the liver, colon, kidneys and skin, to remove any accumulated toxins and waste – slowly and gently. The goal is to give your organs a break from the bombardment of chemical toxins that come to you from the foods and drinks you consume, the medications you take and the air you breathe. Strengthening your body’s natural detoxification capacities allows us to deal more effectively with any of the unavoidable toxins that we are exposed to daily.
The Foodwise detox programme is created by me – a qualified, licensed nutritionist. It focuses on proper preparation, avoiding dietary and lifestyle toxins, detox support with specific meal plans and recipes, the appropriate use of supplements and natural remedies, as well as how to maintain healthy habits as part of our normal routine.
You don’t need restrictive diets or juice cleanses to help your body detox. Get Foodwise and the power is yours!