Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Myth of The D-Tox E-Mails.

The Myth of The De-Tox Diets

So have you had your eight glasses of water today?

Started your day with lime juice to balance the alkalinity in your body?

Eaten only fruits and vegetables for ten days?

If you have done any and all of this to detox your body, I wish you good luck with it.

But its not necessary. Never was. Never will be.

The idea that our body is filled with toxins which need to be regularly removed to keep it healthy is an actual fact. But what isn’t is that we need to do something to help the process along. Our bodies do a far more efficient job without any helping hand we can offer. The myth of the detox diets is one of the most viral myths shared over the Internet. I personally get over a half dozen e-mails every day advising me to do this or that to detox my body and stay healthy. Which is the reason I am writing this post. After all I am fed up of all that junk mail clogging my in-box and I thought I would share with you all a few facts I learnt in my first year physiology and biochemistry classes about how the body works.

Food to our body is just fuel to be used for producing energy. Energy to breathe, walk, talk and do the myriad things we do every day without conscious thought and that food is broken down in our bodies to three specific groups for energy production- carbohydrates, proteins and fats. That’s all there is – nothing else. Whether you eat Kentucky fried chicken all day long or eat spinach and greens (like Popeye) or gorge yourself on sweets and ice-cream, once inside your body, all of them get divided into the three major groups only. Chicken, mutton and beef may have more protein than carbohydrates or fats. Ice cream may have more fats than proteins. Spinach may have more carbohydrates than proteins. That’s all. It’s just the percentages. But they all contain all three groups of food in them. Eventually all of it will be used. Every single bit of it will be squeezed dry of useful stuff in your intestines (colon/gut) and the reminder evacuated through feces. So isolating any one particular food group and saying it will help you cleanse your intestines is like putting a clean clothe inside the washing machine and running it on full spin just to cleanse the washing machine. It doesn’t work that way. Adding fiber/roughage and things like that (salads/raw vegetables anyone?) to your diet- just provides more bulk to your shit and nothing else. Because the roughages or starch are indigestible by our body and anything not useful to us- is passed straight in-straight out (like certain phone numbers).

Our intestines contain a lot of good bacteria which live on friendly terms with us. They help in absorbing the vitamins (vit b12?) and other trace elements (like iron or magnesium or selenium) we need from our diet (in minuscule quantities) and again excrete the rest if there is more than needed to be absorbed. And the intestinal cells and their good buddies, the commensal bacteria, do this quietly, efficiently and slowly - 24/7 for however long we live with nary a help asked from us. We only realize the absence of the good bacteria when we take heavy antibiotic therapy (multiple/combination antibiotics for long durations) which wipes out the good guys and lets the bad guys come in and take over the town. And that adds to a different set of problems which I will talk about on a later post.

The other organs of de-tox we have in our bodies are the kidneys, the liver, the lungs and skin. The kidneys are obvious- they filter out almost every single damn thing we take, absorbing only the useful and discarding the useless. So to burden them with drink after drink after drink, even if its just water is just an over-kill. Most of it will be excreted and you are just going to spend a lot of time running to the toilets. Eight glasses? I am not sure who came up with that particular quantity. But all we need to do are to replace whatever we lose in a day through perspirations, expiration and excretions. And that quantity – the amount to be replaced? is determined by our thirst levels. We have a very efficient organ called the brain- especially one specific part called the hypothalamus which does nothing but measure the water levels in our body and prompts us with thirst when the levels go down. So please allow that organ to do its job efficiently (as always) and get on with yours.

And about the ph balance thing with lime juice? Last I heard citric acid, the active ingredient of lime juice is an acid so I fail to understand the logic of how it can balance your alkaline levels in your stomach. Especially your early morning empty stomach- first thing in the morning, as the pseudo-nutrition quacks proclaim. Even if somehow my knowledge of biochemistry is lacking and lime juice is indeed alkaline, pouring a glass of a dilute alkaline solution on an empty stomach overflowing with concentrated (Strong) Hydrochloric acid, strong enough to burn and strip cells off our own body if given half a chance- that’s like, well I can only compare it to pissing on a burning building hoping to put out the fire. The only thing to do is eat breakfast- eat a proper breakfast if you would rather not have your own body fluids (the acid inside the stomach) eat up your own stomach. If you don’t want to end up a self-cannibal - you eating you- keep off the starvation diets and resultant ulceration. An ulcer is nothing but a hole in the stomach caused by the acid eating through the stomach itself in the absence of anything good to eat.

Which brings me to all those fad diets which promise you can cut off specific groups to help detox- the no-carb diet, the no-fat diet etc. We have a very efficient functioning liver inside our bodies which helps in digesting just those specific groups of food. Would you rather leave it all alone? With no work to do? Haven’t you heard that an idle mind is the devils workshop. A liver with little to do sometimes produces concentrated (thick) bile (the liver fluid) which might cause problems like bile stones (gall stones) etc. So we need to think twice before doing any fad diets to avoid unpleasant results we didnt anticipate. Besides the liver is an outstanding poison filter. It cleanses our blood of anything and everything which we are fool enough to ingest- like alcohol. And thats why alcoholics of long standing end up damaging their livers beyond repair. Anyway, the liver is good enough to go about this work with a curt no thank you, even if you offer to help it detox. So leave it well alone.

And then our lungs. Everyday, every single breathe we take, our lungs are detoxing for us. They remove all the poison gases which we dont need and exhale them out into the air. But sometimes with pollution (man-made- think smoking) our lungs become coated with the pollutants like tar and nicotine and so we have efficient little cells called lung macrophages which hurry in to cleanse them and detox our lungs. But if we keep abusing beyond the limits- even those little cells cannot manage beyond their capacities and our lungs become coated with the vile stuff. So our lungs are also very efficient in self cleansing detoxes without any help from us.

Finally our skin. We shed a lot of skin daily. Half the dust inside our rooms is probably our old and dead skin cells flaking away from our bodies to be replaced by new skin cells underneath. And why do we need to do that? Because we are exposed to so much air, water and bacterial pollutants every single minute that if our skin cells didnt sacrifice themselves in flaking away from our bodies -carrying along the enemy with them and away from us – we would probably be overwhelmed by infections and die a nasty death.

So every single organ of our body is involved in its own personal detox one way or the other. And they have been doing it for millenia, from the very first time we evolved from a single celled organism to who we are now. And they do it very efficiently. So even if we do love to help, the help is just not needed. We would just be a hindrance.

The body finds its own balance- just leave it alone. If you really want to detox – go do it to your mind – lose those negative memories which hold you back, remove your fears and act on them. Also go do it to your soul- detox your life, your job, your relationship and put it all back on track. All the best.

And please, please do not forward to me all those chain e-mails about the wonderful new detox diet or I promise you- I will write an even longer blogpost on it and mail you the link. Fair warning?

P.S. The writer of this post doesn’t drink lime juice in the mornings, doesn’t do detox diets and last checked had the blood chemistry values of someone 5-6 years of his actual age.


  1. Oh Wow! This was something that I wanted to know for a long time now. Thanks for sharing this and shattering the myths about such detox diets!

    1. glad you find this useful Shilpa..but these guys bug me out with multiple mails a day each of them advising me to grow if i am on my death bed already..