Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

  • Is There a Downside to Your New Year's Detox?

Is There a Downside to Your New Year's Detox?

Jan 10 2019 Read 1023 Times

From giving up coffee to adopting smoothie diets, January is the most popular time of the year to embark on a detox. While most people make health resolutions to spark positive change, some experts maintain that that detoxes are a waste of time, energy and money. Furthermore, they also warn that some can have a negative impact on overall health.

Yale University’s Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist at the institution's School of Medicine, maintains that the human body has a built-in system designed to effectively filter out toxins, regardless of how many glasses of wine or chocolate Lindt balls were consumed over Christmas.

“Detox is a myth,” he explains. “Your liver and kidneys, if they are healthy, will detox fine. That’s what they are for.”

Experts warn against popular detox fads

Instead, he describes popular detox trends like fasting, herbal remedies, smoothie diets and coffee enemas as "pseudoscientific" and founded on little more than rumour. For example, limiting calorie intake as part of a 5:2 fasting diet is hyped for its potential to facilitate weight loss, balance blood sugar levels, boost energy and even prevent cancer. However, Novella warns that in reality there is little to no evidence supporting these claims. Instead, liquid-only regime's like Beyoncé's much-hyped Master Cleanse diet have the potential to be damaging to the body, with experts warning they can slow the metabolism and hinder weight loss goals.

There's also controversy surrounding coffee enemas, a detox method endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow. The actress claims the injections of fluid can remove toxins in the body, though scientists have slammed it as futile and potentially dangerous, sometimes resulting in death.

Stick to the basics

So how can health-conscious people embark on a health kick in 2019? Novella recommends adhering to basic rules like portion control, moderate drinking, regular sleep patterns, 30 minutes of exercise a day and plenty of water to stay hydrated. A healthy diet is key, with nutritionists recommending replacing liquid lunches or fad foods with a plate packed with fresh vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, salmon and eggs.  

Adopting a healthy lifestyle isn't the only way to enhance health, with scientists claiming that monitoring free radicals, aka uncharged molecules that can attack cells, proteins and DNA, can play a major role in the development of disease. For a closer look at how scientists are working to minimise the risk don't miss 'Using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to Track Free Radicals in the Environment.'

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