Updated: Apr 3, 2021
I'm the Liver, and my job is to detox.
Did you think that your special detox diet would do it? Those funny sounding juices, and those specialized detox products in the market?
Welcome to reality.
Your juices don't do that. I do. (The kidneys, lungs, etc. are my detox partners in your body...)
But, before that, let's understand what is meant by detoxification.
Detoxification is simply the removal of toxic substances from the human body.
What's a toxin/ a toxic substance?
By the definition of the dictionary, a toxin is a poison of plant or animal origin, especially one produced by or derived from microorganisms and acting as an antigen (that which stimulates the immune response) in the body.
So, How do I, the liver in your body , help with detox?
When you train hard at the gym, your muscles burn glucose, and lactic acid (lactic acid is toxic when it builds to a point of causing muscle fatigue, and when not properly utilized through correct training) is produced as a consequence ; I convert the lactic acid into glycogen for energy storage. In other words, I "detox" by removing the toxic effects of the various by-products in your body;
When you drink lots of caffeine, or smoke a bunch of cigarettes that release nicotine into the blood vessels- you'll probably be dead if not for my timely action in removing the poisonous stuff before it reaches your heart. In other words, I "detox";
When you indulge in those sugary meals, I take the excess sugar and convert it to glycogen for storage (to be used later when sugar levels drop). If not for my work in converting this excess sugar (read toxic levels of sugar), you could slip into serious health issues. In other words, I "detox";
When you binge on alcohol, I work all night, and convert the toxic quantities of alcohol into carbon dioxide, and water. In other words, I "detox";
So, if your nutritionist, or your doctor recommends a "Special Detox Diet", ask them the following questions:
Why should I "Detox" through a diet when my Liver , and its partners are up & kicking?
If some foods have the detoxifying properties- like the ginger- why can't I just add these foods to my normal meals- such as adding Ginger to my Rasam? Why should I restrict my diet?
What toxins am I detoxifying through this diet?
How will this specific diet aid the process of detoxification (especially if I do not change my lifestyle habits such as drinking, and smoking)?
How sustainable is a detox diet when it comes to Fat Loss?
Would I not be losing weight by consuming 'normal foods' in calorific deficit too?
And, if I stuck to a Detox Diet entirely, would I not be missing out on other important nutrients that my body would need?
Are detox diets sufficient for my nutritional requirements?
Let's face it.
There is not enough evidence in favor of "Detox Diets" actually resulting in detoxification of the body, or having sustainable results when it comes to weight loss;
The liver (along with the kidneys, lungs etc) is the detox hub within the human body, and detoxification happens naturally owing to its function;
Some foods may catalyse the process of detoxification; this means you can add these foods to your routine meals instead of following a restricted detox diet;
Staying hydrated is a great way to aid the process of detoxification; water helps transport the waste products in the body through urine, sweat etc.(yes. the human organ called skin is involved in detoxification too...).
Detox is more to do with lifestyle changes; changes that promote the well being of the liver (and the whole body). These include cutting down on habits such as smoking, drinking, "junking food" etc.. Without lifestyle changes, temporary solutions won't do much.
So, chuck those detox diets, adopt a healthier lifestyle, and let the liver , and its partners do their job.
At this point, let's also understand 'detoxification', and natural foods. Some so called natural foods contain 'toxins' too (that are inherent to its composition, and not caused by external use of fertilizers)- but, in minuscule doses; therefore, not all natural foods are 'toxin' free. On the same note, not all 'non-marketed' foods are toxic too.