Sunday, January 17, 2016

if i hear the word "detox" one more time....

Welcome to the world of online health information!  Here you will find a mind-boggling range of recommendations, from Conventional Wisdom Which Consistently Fails, through Tinfoil-Hat-Worthy and Thoroughly Flaky Pipe-Dreams.  You will hear ideas repellent to both Science and "Common-Sense" (you know, that sense which tells us the earth is flat) debated passionately by thirty-year-old dorkoid losers who exist only in the fetid, moldy depths of their parents' basements.  Cuz there's something about unlimited internet access that brings out the genius in those who barely made it through high-school....

In this world, one of the words which tends to bring out the screaming, destructive ranter in me is "detox."

Everything untoward can be blamed on detoxification.  If you develop a strange rash upon starting your "healthy" new diet (no matter which one that is), it's because you're detoxing.  If your mood is depressed (here in winter when SAD is prevalent, and you're not getting your micronutrients), it's because you're detoxing from that one Christmas cookie you couldn't resist.  If there's a new litter of pups in the cage, and the salesperson SWORE both mice were male, it's gotta be ... well, maybe not THEN....

Honestly, there's got to be a special place in hell for whoever popularized the concept of detoxification, when it comes to both explaining unexpected results of one's regimen, and for advocating the purchase and use of spurious products to reverse it.

I wonder how many times i've pointed out on facebook -- to ignorant people who believe everything Oprah says as well as to groups of amateur students of nutrition -- that special products are not necessary to cleanse one.  The liver, i've written ad nauseum, is DESIGNED to detoxify the body, and merely taking good care of it is the best thing one can do.  Buying some snake-oil at the health-food store will flush out your bank account long before it flushes the toxins out of your body.

No, madam, the patient isn't feeling blue because she used to eat badly.  She may have gallstone symptoms for that reason, but won't be feeling sad because two years ago she used to subsist on low-fat pasta.  She might easily be a little situationally-depressed because she bought the ridiculous idea that she's not allowed to drink coffee anymore, or because all those healthy young pundits think that if they can get away with not taking vitamins, NOBODY needs supplementation, or because it's BLOODY WINTER here in the US, and unless people are cognizant of what daylight-length and light-color can do to a person's mood, they're prime candidates for SAD.

Detoxification can be a real thing if you have been too close to a radiation source -- you need to protect yourself with a good iodine/iodide supplement, then, to block the absorption of radioactive iodine, and encourage your body to excrete what might be there already.  Definitely, detoxing from mercury poisoning is a valid concept ... and also from lead if you live in the vicinity of Flint, MI.

But for the majority of subjects on health-worried web gathering-places, lets just step back and recite the mantra:  scientists may be corrupt, outdated, or just plain demented here and there, but en masse, they aren't stupid.  Your liver will take care of 95% of all the detoxing you'll ever need, if YOU take care of IT.

Stay away from PUFAs and sugars most of the time;  use alcohol with care and deliberation;  be aware of pharmaceuticals which will chew up your liver and spit it out.  Saturated fats, even if they didn't have other virtues, are fabulously protective of the liver.  Buy the beef and eat the fat!


  1. Replies
    1. "You brute! You brute! You vicious brute! [boohooohooo]". :-) name that movie!

  2. "Buy the beef and eat the fat!"
    Don't throw out that fat ...

    All the best Jan

    1. Yes, if there's more fat there than one wants to eat WITH the meat, mince it up and brown it, and cook the eggs in it! Yum!

  3. This reminds me of a friend of mine. She's in the middle of a detox to try to fix her rheumatoid arthritis...even though she got relief a few years ago by giving up wheat. I suspect her fruit and vegetable fast will end on a stressful day with a carbohydrate bender--not because she's weak, but that's usually how those things end.

    That brings me to the other side of this: people who keep trying detoxes and whatnot when they haven't worked before. Oprah has been counting calories off and on for 30 years. What in the wide world of woo-woo makes her think it'll work this time?

    All you can do is put information out there and move on. As Robert over at Living Stingy said today, "Well, again, if you see someone driving their car off a cliff, you might want to tell them there is a cliff ahead. But don't be surprised when they tell you they know exactly what they are doing and that going off a cliff is just a smart shortcut to the bottom of the mountain."

    1. No kidding! :-) One of the problems with the persistence of the CICO myth is that for most of us, when we were young, it USED to work to just reduce the amount we ate, and to go on an exercise regimen. Unfortunately, there comes a point when it just DOESN'T anymore....