If you, like me, are ALREADY starting to see January detox and diet talk online, here is a blog post filled with everything you should need to help you ignore it all. With over 13 million posts hashtagged with #detoxtime on Instagram and brands, newspapers and magazines still pushing the ‘new year diet’ agenda, it’s fair to say that detox culture is still hanging on, despite the best efforts of more progressive magazines, webzines and internet users.
If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not the concept of ‘detoxing’ is something you should be buying into, here’s a fact to get you started: Detox is the process by which the liver and kidneys remove toxins that enter the body through eating, drinking, breathing etc, and flushes them out via urine and sweat. Bowel movements also play their part. There is no other form of detox that takes place in the body. No detox tea is ever going to ‘suck’ toxins out of you, it’s just a straight up lie, and you cannot ‘stimulate’ the liver to work more efficiently (at least not by using starvation techniques or drinking juice). Making yourself go to the toilet more often doesn’t mean that your body is ‘flushing’ toxins out. The one and only way to efficiently detox is to have a healthy liver and kidneys. So anyway, lets debunk some myths:
1. Juice Cleanses
Juice cleanses force your body to deal with extremely high levels of sugar with no fibre, fat, protein or complex carbs to actually nourish your body. Whether it’s lemon juice with maple syrup, or a selection of various vegetable juices mixed with ‘superfood extracts’, it makes no difference. Fresh juice contains vitamins and minerals, but you’d consume less sugar if you just ate gummy vitamins (please don’t do that either).
2. Detox Teas
Detox teas are even worse than juice cleanses. Some of them contain unregulated levels of laxatives and diuretics that will dehydrate you and stop nutrients and real medicines from being absorbed, and can upset the balance of gut bacteria in your digestive system, just like with any bout of the runs. Other detox teas just do absolutely nothing other than cost you a lot of money. Again, they might contain healthy nutrients and be better for you than a sugary coffee, but they do not do anything to ‘detox’ your body. Purging is not detox.
Detox diets generally rely on you starving yourself and eating lots of leafy salads. And restrictive, temporary diets have been proven, time and time again, to be completely and utterly ineffective. A healthy diet full of veg, wholegrains and freshly prepared food is great, a crash diet is literally one of the worst things you can do, not just to your body, but also to your poor mind.
4. Drinking water to get clearer skin
Water does not ‘flush toxins out of your skin’. When you’re hydrated you sweat more – this sweat forms one half of the oil-water barrier that protects your skin. If there isn’t enough water to make sweat, your skin produces more oil to compensate. This is the only reason why your skin can start to look clearer if you drink more water. Too much oil = spots. More water to sweat = less oil.
5. Activated charcoal
Activated charcoal absorbs certain poisons from the digestive tract in medical emergencies, but charcoal taken as a ‘detox supplement’ absorbs vital nutrients and some medicines too. Charcoal is good on the skin, but it does nothing for your health if you ingest it, and can actually damage your health by absorbing things that are actually good for you.
6. Detox ‘symptoms’
Something really awful that detox advocates will talk about are the ‘symptoms’ of detox. They’ll tell you that having an upset stomach, no energy, nausea, headaches, shakes, bad skin, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, are all signs that your ‘detox diet’ is working. This is a big fuckin’ lie. People who give up certain addictive drugs or alcohol go through this when their bodies start to remove those substances. But it’s their bodies, the normal liver-kidney function, that are removing the substances, and it’s the withdrawal from the drugs that makes them feel terrible. It has nothing to do with a damn juice cleanse. If you feel like crap when you do a detox diet it’s because your body is starving and probably overloaded with sugar. It is not healthy.
7. Unhealthy attitudes
The idea of ‘indulge in December then detox in January’ is dangerously close to ‘binge then purge’ and it is not a healthy way for anyone to think. There are people who can’t help but think this way because of eating disorders. Stop making it harder for everyone, stop reinforcing detox culture. Hide the diet ads you see. Don’t buy skinny teas. Unfollow the celebs that sell them. Don’t talk about feeling ‘fat’ and needing to ‘detox’. It is not healthy. The only reason ‘January detox’ exists is to sell us stuff, it’s not for your health.
Let yourself live
Detox culture is toxic. It’s unsustainable. Making REAL healthy changes like eating nutritions food (no judgement on what the food is, a pizza has more nutrients in it than a bowl of lettuce after all), and drinking more water isn’t interesting, doesn’t make for great marketing material, and certainly doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But if you want to help support your body’s natural detox functions, being well hydrated and getting lots of nutrients though your food really is all you need to do. Love yourself, enjoy winter, have a happy 2019, and ignore marketing messages that prey on your insecurities, because you don’t deserve to put your body through this all.
If you want to know more about detox, and just why exactly it’s a giant scam, here are a few links you might like to read: