The Detox Sham
Guest article by Shwetha Bhatia
DETOX (short for detoxification) diet is the biggest sham in the health industry. We would like to make you aware of some “detox” facts before you waste your time, energy and most importantly health by following these fads!
In the context of human biochemistry, detoxification refers to a metabolic pathway, that processes unwanted chemicals for elimination. It involves a series of enzymatic reactions that neutralize and solubilize toxins, and transport them to secretory organs (like the liver or kidneys), so that they can be excreted from the body. This is happening 24/7 and not when we decide to go on a “detox diet”.
Common sources of toxins:
Diet-Preservatives, colours, pesticides, medications (not vitamins), pollutants in water, high temperature cooking, food processing, bacteria. Environment-Air pollution, cigarette smoke (including passive), alcohol etc
3 phases of detox:
- Phase 1 & 2: Converting lipid (fat) soluble toxins to water soluble so that they can be excreted.
- Phase 3:Transport to liver & kidneys.
Nutrients (diet) which take part in the process:
- Protein/amino acids (eg., methionine, cysteine, glutamine,Phase 1).
- Vit B complex (Phase 1 & 2).
- Vit A/C/E, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium (Phase 1)
- Flavonoids (green tea, soya). Grapefruit may have reverse effects on some medications
- Quercetin (apples, onions)
- Sulforaphane (cruciferous veg, Phase 2 & 3)
- Others: garlic, turmeric, lemon, ginger, cumin, fennel, artichokes, carom seeds, olives, bell peppers, cinnamon, chlorophyllin, probiotics, milk thistle, curry leaves, mustard leaves, water
Detoxification is not in our control. It’s one of the many proceses of the body that occur daily. Fasting and simply adding some juices etc does not facilitate it. At the most, it might reduce the load to a certain extent. It needs to be managed on a daily basis by adding the necessary nutrients, exercising and reducing exposure to toxins.
Shwetha Bhatia is a registered dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association. She runs her practice under the brand name “Metamorphosis’ in Mumbai. She is also a competitive fitness athlete (IBBF Bronze winner at the State & National Level 2015). She has also set up her own gym and nutrition counselling centre in Goa called Gym & Tonic. She’s also a columnist for the fitness magazine Krunch Today.