The Great Detox Myth

The Detox industry is huge. We have all longed to fix a diet of drink and junk food by going on a detox, and magically undoing all the damage we have done to our bodies.

There are endless products out there to help, from toxin-sucking foot patches to colon cleanses to detox shampoo.

detox foot pads

detox foot pads

The trouble is, they are all a hoax. The whole detox industry is a money-making gimmick.

Oh, there are toxins. Lots of actual poisons which are toxic, but they require a trip to hospital to fix, not a seaweed wrap and some essential oil.

“No, no, it’s environmental toxins, in our food and our air,” the industry says.

Trouble is, these toxins remain nameless and unmeasured. You can’t decide which is the best detox package because there is no way of knowing what toxins they are removing, or how effective they are.

In general, I don’t have a huge problem with that. The traditional detox of kale juice and a break from alcohol or fry-ups may make you rethink your regular habits. Fresh vegetables and fruit are good, and cutting out the processed food is better.

detox drinks

The human body has an efficient detox system already. The liver, kidneys, colon and even the skin are all great at getting rid of anything the body doesn’t need. And we can measure what they produce. Diabetics dip their urine for a reason, it’s because they can tell how much excess sugar is being excreted. Or they can check for ketones, and measure how much they are producing.

urine dip sticks

No one has so far produced a test for these mysterious toxins that we are all suffering from.

If someone wants to spend money on rubbish, and gasp over how many toxins have been sucked out through their feet by the patches (which turn brown in contact with sweat) or the size of their pooh after they drink a glass of phylum water, that’s up to them. It’s as good a use of their money as playing the slot machines or downloading porn.

Where I have a major problem is when all the “toxin experts” tell pregnant and breastfeeding mothers things which are unfounded, scary and potentially damaging.

The number one myth is that you can’t detox or diet while pregnant or breastfeeding, or all the toxins released will go into the baby or into the breast milk.

Dieting while pregnant is not recommended, for obvious reasons, but a lot of women feel sick and end up losing weight, especially in the first few months. That’s difficult enough to deal with, without worrying that your weight loss will release toxins which all magically find their way to the baby. While there are a few things which can cross it, the placenta is amazing good at protecting the baby from anything which might be potentially harmful.

Even worse is when breastfeeding moms are told that dieting, any form of detox or even having a massage, will release toxins into their breast milk. Some “expert” whose expertise is in exfoliation and skin cream, feels free to tell mothers that they can’t breastfeed after a back and shoulder massage because of all the toxins which have been released, and they’ll have to pump and dump for three/five/seven days. Sure isn’t that what formula is for?

This pisses me off on so many levels. As I mentioned, these mysterious toxins (unlike lead or mercury) are a marketing ploy, and the way breastfeeding is considered so unimportant that any idiot in a white coat feels qualified to give instructions which could sabotage breastfeeding and the health of the baby. I’d love to see one of those experts announce, “Oh, you will have toxins in your feet for a few days, so you’ll have to use a wheelchair” and see if anyone takes her seriously.

Breastfeeding is a good time to lose weight. That hip-and-thigh fat, which is so hard to shift, is there to feed the baby, and during breastfeeding is the one time the female body is willing to surrender it. Breasts are not funnels, it’s not a case of what you eat being sieved and going directly to the baby. Women in concentration camps who were starving, still managed to produce healthy well-fed babies. Once a good milk supply is established, eating less won’t affect it and certainly won’t result in a flood of toxins in the milk.

If you want to improve your eating habits, feel free. Toxins are nothing to worry about.

About Eileen Gormley

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