Shut Up About Toxins.
I was going to add a “please” into the title of this post in order to be polite, but I’m honestly over trying to be polite about my distaste for pseudoscience, quick fixes and bullshit in the health and fitness industry.
The advertisers who scam you with promises that you can detox your body by drinking their tea or taking some herb aren’t polite when they part you from your hard-earned cash, so why should I be?
If there is one word that makes me absolutely cringe, its toxins.
Toxin seems to be the big “health” buzzword lately. Toxins are the new assumed evil (kind of like gluten, fats, red meat, and sugar have all been) that are apparently the source of all of our health problems and malevolence in the world.
From juice fasts, to hot yoga* and colon cleanses, detox regimens are all the rage for those desperate to kick start a healthy lifestyle or drop a few pants sizes.
*Note: we do not sweat out toxins. I don’t care what your yoga teacher told you, that’s not how the human body works. You’ll do more detoxing on the toilet than you ever will in a gym or yoga studio (more about this later).
Detoxing is the idea of ridding the body of harmful substances, based on the premise that our bodies accumulate toxins that cause cancer, obesity and other diseases.
Although I’ve never heard anyone speak of WHAT toxins they’re actually trying to remove and why.
Are they bacteria? Chemical pollutants? Trans fats? Heavy metals? Gremlins swimming under our skin? Most manufacturers can’t even tell us and instead they leave it up to the imagination of the consumer.
A toxin by definition is something that is produced mostly by microorganisms that have capability to cause harmful effects when they are injected, inhaled, eaten, or absorbed through the skin. Toxins can also be produced by some animals and plants.
The health effects of exposure can vary greatly depending on the toxin, the amount, and the route of exposure, ranging from minor (skin or eye irritation, headache, nausea) to severe (respiratory distress, muscle weakness, seizures, death).
Toxins also include some medicines that are helpful in small doses, but poisonous in large amounts.
So really, everything is toxic at a high enough dose. Did you know that Botox injections come from a “toxin”?
Detox has no concrete significance outside of the clinical treatment for drug addiction or poisoning. Out of this context, it’s simply a word used to sell you something that you don’t need and is utterly meaningless.
Oftentimes companies will relabel existing products with the word “detox” just to make them more appealing.
YOU ARE BEING DUPED
If you did actually have a serious toxin problem in your body, which some people truly do, you would not be reading this right now. You’d probably be in the hospital or would need to undergo some serious blood work and testing.
We have a built in “detox system” in our bodies – our liver and kidneys. The liver works to break down harmful substances to make them easier to eliminate, which we do through urine, poop and bile..to put things very, very simply.
The body’s natural detox system is 100% natural AND it’s proven effective (how’s that for marketing?!). And if it wasn’t doing its job, you would be very sick. Sick enough to require medical attention, not some herbal diarrhea inducing cocktail that some moron celebrity is getting paid to promote on Instagram.
Or maybe medical science just hasn’t caught up to this yet? *eyeroll*
People who actually do have toxin build up, have usually been exposed to very high, harmful doses of toxic substances due to their lifestyles or career – working with asbestos, pesticides or in a coal mine for 30 years, living near a chemical plant, etc. – and are at risk of serious consequences.
…Not someone who accidentally put regular kale instead of organic into their green smoothie one morning (sorry, even our organic veggies aren’t safe from chemicals), or ate too many cookies over Christmas break.
Unfortunately the whole detox industry is based entirely on pseudoscience and fear-mongering. Most are just following along blindly because some advertisement or guru claimed toxins were “bad” (Food Babe and Dr. Oz are two of biggest charlatans here).
Detoxes can be very harmful, both physically and mentally. And marketing statements that make claims that their product can actually help treat diseases are extremely dangerous.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO NOT GET DUPED:
- Be a critical thinker and an informed consumer.
Don’t believe every claim. Do your research and be very mindful and cautious with what you are doing to your body. Respect it enough to not put it through taxing regimens like detoxes.
If companies are going to make supposed scientific claims about their products they should be prepared to make available the evidence backing up their claims to anyone requesting it. And most companies have zero evidence. (Read more here: CLICK )
Most detox products are also simply taking advantages of our insecurities to sell us something. You’re better and smarter than that, and you deserve better than that.
- Ask yourself, can this be sustained?
Can what you’re planning on doing to get healthy or drop a pants size be sustained for longer than a month? What about for 6 months? Can you see yourself still doing it consistently a year from now?
Detoxes and quick fixes are not long-term solutions. Sure you may lose some noticeable weight (although it may not necessarily be body fat), but as soon as you come off your detox regimen and return to your regular habits that weight will come right back. And it might even bring some extra along with it.
So what will you truly get from a detox experience? Probably nothing more than misery, because there is nothing seemingly enjoyable about them.
- Just eat your veggies, get some sleep and stay hydrated.
I know it’s not as sexy as a 7 day juice cleanse, but eating a mostly nutrient-dense diet with lots of fresh produce every day of the year, getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, keeping alcohol to a minimum and letting your body do its thing can do wonders for your health, waistline, and sanity.
Gaining true health and a fit body is not excruciating and it’s not something you have to “white-knuckle” through. Health is an enriching endeavor, not a misery inducing week long feat that can be bought in a box or bottle.
There is no scientific evidence providing reason for time, money and health to be wasted on so-called “detox” systems and diets as they are incomparable to our bodies’ own natural detoxing system.
So can we please shut up about toxins and detoxes and do more critical thinking. We probably won’t be able to stop the spread and sell of pseudoscience, but with determined effort we can at least make these gurus look as ridiculous as their claims.