You see them on every store shelf, prompting you to question your life choices. Products that promise to flush the toxins from your digestive system–your liver, kidneys, and almost every other organ of the body. Supplements, patches, creams, smoothies and specialized diets are poised at the ready – stepping in to save you and your toxic, alcohol-filled, sugar-wracked innards from completely seizing up and rendering you a sick and hopeless mess. You’ve been overindulging on junk food and booze? Then you must detoxify your body in order to get everything back to tip-top working order. Or so they say.
It seems to make sense. After all, detoxification is a real medical procedure. In the traditional sense, it’s the process of ridding an overwhelmed body of a dangerous dose of poison, or to completely flush the system of a hard drug like heroin. True detoxification is only performed in a hospital, and only when necessary for survival. But over the years, the word has evolved into a many-headed marketing beast that convinces consumers that they must treat a non-existing condition, which is all the more powerful given just how bad the word “toxins” sounds.
What exactly is a toxin? In the dictionary, it is defined as “any poisonous substance that is produced by a living organism”. You know, like how broccoli, lima beans, and flaxseed all contain cyanide. So, what are these specific toxins that detox fads are trying so nobly to rid you of? They don’t tell you, exactly – mainly because they don’t even know themselves. “Toxins” is really just a vague marketing buzzword: if detox reps knew exactly which toxin they were supposed to be attacking, they would name it – and therefore be able to test and measure the evidence of the products’ efficiency.
The publicly-funded charity named Sense About Science conducted research on fifteen different companies that sold products in chain grocery stores and pharmacies with the word “detox” or “detoxification” on their label. They uncovered a number of overarching themes: “no two companies seem to use the same definition of ‘detox’; little, and in most cases no, evidence was offered to back up the detox claims, and in the majority of cases, producers and retailers contacted were forced to admit that they are renaming mundane activities, like cleaning or brushing, as ‘detox’.”
The simple truth is that if your moderate drinking or sugar-consuming habit wouldn’t prompt an expensive visit to a hospital to seek a true detoxification, a body of average health is ready and willing to take care of it. This is quite literally what your liver lives to do. And guess what? It’s free.
The liver transforms harmful substances into benign ones, and sends them to the bowel where they leave our body, never to be heard from again. If you are the proud owner of a functional liver, no diet supplement or special smoothie you ingest is going to make your liver any more capable of doing its job.