Should you detox?

As a nutritionist I get kind of annoyed when the term "detox"is used wantonly. Detox from WHAT, exactly? Meaning, the term only really applies if you have poor and somewhat toxic eating habits. Even then, a healthy person's liver and kidneys are quite capable of eliminating most of the things we ingest. Your liver and kidneys are the power centers of elimination for your body and almost everything that enters your mouth passes through them. It can take many years of serious abuse and/or sudden, acute toxicity from poisoning and/or onset of disease for your liver and kidneys to fail you. So that being said, what are some things that are processed as toxins? View the list of 3 below, in order of importance:
  1. Alcohol
  2. Some supplement ingredients
  3. Some additives in processed food
Alcohol I have already mentioned why alcohol is considered a toxin and stored as fat in the body here but t to recap, when alcohol is present your liver will prioritize its removal above all else. That means that your nutrient absorption will be delayed as will your regenerative processes in favor of getting rid of that booze as soon as possible. The more alcohol in your system, the longer the process will take which can cause you to miss out on vital nutrition. What about wine, you ask? The good thing about wine is that it at least has resveratrolwhich has been shown to be beneficial in some ways AND wine can have a low alcohol content. The bad thing about wine is that it is easy to overindulge and binge drink which is vey taxing on the liver. Fix: Stick to 6 ounces or less per serving and/or dilute with water. A serving should be no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men. Supplement Ingredients The US supplement industry is wildly unregulated so the ones you see on the shelf or online are not always vetted to ensure safety. In most cases, a supplement manufacturer can bring a product to market as long as it is generally recognized as safe and contains ingredients with supportive research. However, regulation of supplements often happens after  something bad has happened as it was with ephedra. In addition, the trace materials, fillers and binders that are used in supplement production can also be harmful to your liver and lead to liver failure over time.Fix:  Research every supplement before ingesting and skip the ones without substantial information to support their use. Otherwise, you're basically making someone very rich by being a guinea pig. Food Additives Aspartame, titanuim dioxide, red dyes #3 & #40 are just some of the food additives that made it on this list of scary food additives. Before you disregard the list consider that beaver anal juice aka castoreum, is on it and is purportedly used to flavor vanilla puddings "naturally".  Fix: stop eating junk food. Enough said. So should you detox? In my opinion, only if you regularly consume any of the above and only if you understand that detoxing is mainly a mental exercise. If your liver is functional you should be okay but detoxing can help to reset your taste-buds while giving your liver a rest from synthetic products. To ensure that detoxing is not necessary, limit the above in your regular diet.

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