Chances are, you’ve heard of (or possibly tried) some kind of ‘detox’ or ‘liver cleanse’ pill in the past. These things promise to remove toxins from your body, leaving you healthier, more energised, and generally more able to conduct your life. It sounds good on paper, and the concept seems convincing. However, the science is a little less straightforward than it seems. Let’s break it down:
There Is No Such Thing As A ‘Detox’ Pill
No foodstuff or over-the-counter pill you can buy will actively ‘remove toxins’ from your body. The only way you can get toxins out of your body without medical intervention is via your liver. One of your liver’s many jobs is to process and remove toxins safely – and very, very few things are more effective than your liver at this. Something advertising itself as a ‘liver cleanse’ is, in a way, more accurate than something describing itself as a ‘detox’ supplement – but there are still issues with many so-called ‘liver cleanses’…
Your Liver Heals Itself
A lot of the pills and supplements sold online promise that those taking them will, within a month, completely heal their livers – so long as they follow certain fairly basic healthy-living guidelines. And you know what? They’re right! Take the pills for a month, in addition to other small changes like cutting down on alcohol, and your liver will more or less heal from any damage done to it. And, what’s more, you’ll seriously feel those improvements, Your skin tone will be better, you’ll have more energy, your metabolism will improve, your mood will lift – it’s amazing how much better a healthy liver can make you feel! Sounds great, right? Well, it is, but you could have saved the money you spent on the pills. The liver, you see, is self-healing. Unless you’ve stitched years and years of alcohol scarring into it – in which case you really need to see a specialist – your liver is capable of incredible amounts of regeneration all by itself. No pill can speed the process up – all it needs is a break in which to work its magic.
Nobody Knows What ‘Toxins’ Are
Quick question: what are ‘toxins’? I’m willing to bet you confidently said something like ‘alcohol!’, or ‘sugar!’, or ‘salt!’. Bonus Internet Points if you said ‘Heavy metals!’ or ‘pollutants!’ or ‘chemtrails!’. According to the rather vague theories confidently touted about toxins, these things float around in the body doing damage to organs and making you wrinkly and spotty and fat. Thing is, nobody seems willing to really define them, or what they do, or how they operate, or anything like that. Medically, a ‘toxin’ is something which is poisonous. Alcohol is a good case in point, as it certainly is a (medically defined) toxin, but the body can cope with it in certain amounts. People who talk about toxins act as though they’re a kind of slow acting alcohol, gradually poisoning people via accumulation in the body. While it’s certainly true that bad foods are bad for you, and will kill you over time, the idea of toxin-accumulation (and therefore detox-by-pill) is both scientifically suspect and simply too vague to address. Which is good for some unscrupulous diet ‘gurus’, as it allows them to classify pretty much anything as a ‘toxin’ should they so wish.
The Best ‘Detox’ Is A Healthy Lifestyle
So, to recap:
•Your liver is responsible for removing toxins from your body.
•Your liver heals itself, thereby making itself more efficient at its job, if given time.
•The concept of ‘toxins’ is very vague. Those which do certifiably exist are dealt with by the liver.
Unfortunately for all you quick-fixers out there, the whole ‘detox’ thing appears to be coming down to two elements: time and effort. If you want a clean body, you need to stop putting dirt into it. What’s already there, your liver will remove. All you have to do is to stop replacing it. This means eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, and generally living the kind of boring, healthy lifestyle that we’d all rather bypass with a pill. Obviously your liver will clean out your body far more quickly and efficiently if it’s healthy – but, to be honest, all your liver needs to be healthy is time, and for you to stop rinsing it in booze. So, for a true ‘detox’ – just live healthily. That’s all. Save your pill money.
Article contributed by Anne Holster.