It’s that time of the year again. The festive season is wrapping up, and the delicious excesses of Christmas are nothing but a fond memory. And even though it was a joyous time — filled with presents and far, far too much food — it’s over now and people everywhere are settling down to the painful realization that eating twelve months worth of food in a single afternoon has its downsides.
Whether it’s a few extra centimeters around the waist, or the vague sense of malaise brought about by a few too many egg nogs, you are probably feeling that now is the perfect time to do something for your health.
I’m talking, of course, about going on a detox.
Now, detox is a loosely defined term, but the basic idea is that you’ve ingested a variety of toxins — nasty ‘chemicals’ — that are causing you harm. You might’ve gotten these into your system by overdoing it on the booze, by eating too much gluten, or by breathing in the general vicinity of GMO corn.
And now it’s time to get them out of your system once and for all.
Here’s why that’s actually not such a good idea.
The first thing to realize is that the entire idea of detoxing is basically fabricated. You see, the terms ‘detox’ and ‘toxin’ are essentially meaningless. Or at least, meaningless in the way that they are thrown around by unscientific charlatans trying to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.
The basic idea of detoxing is that you have a build-up of vaguely-identifiable toxins in your system. And I say vaguely-identifiable, because none of the detox proponents can ever actually name the chemicals that they think are causing you such harm.
There’s a good reason for this. If you name a chemical, a doctor can test for it, which is a problem because you probably don’t have harmful levels of toxins inside you at all.
Anyway, you have a build-up of these ‘toxins’, and by doing a detox — often including painful or uncomfortable things like enemas or downing pints of lemon juice — will ‘cleanse’ your system and get rid of the nasty toxins.
Unfortunately, this is total nonsense.
Unless you’re seriously unwell, your various organs are probably doing an excellent job of removing toxic byproducts from your body right now. If they stop working — or even start working a bit less well than usual — you won’t feel a vague sense of malaise, you’ll be in hospital. Think dialysis, when your kidneys stop working at full clip.
Sadly, detoxing is an almost entirely made up idea. There is no scientific basis to pretty much anything that contains the words “detox” or “toxin” that is being sold to you.
The only thing that detoxing actually does is line the pockets of whoever sold you the lemon juice or colon cleanse. Some are even dangerous, which is a serious problem for something with no evidence for benefit at all.
The question then becomes: what to do about your health?
Instead of detoxing, try something that’s actually fun. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have some tasty leftovers remaining from the last few weeks. Eat them.
It may not make you feel perfect, but at least it will help forget some of the nonsense that you’ve heard. Detoxing is a sham, but chocolate is still absolutely delicious.
Chocolate fixes many ills, after all*.
Get On With Your Life
Once you’ve had some chocolate — or other tasty treat — take a deep breath and move on. In many ways, this is the hardest thing to do, because detoxing has been spruiked from every street corner for years.
Forget about detoxes. Get on with your life.
The best way to get healthier after the festive season is go back to your usual routines. Maybe work in a bit more exercise into your regular schedule, or eat a few more vegetables than you were before.
But don’t spend money on something that is scientifically implausible, uncomfortable, and has no evidence whatsoever for being beneficial at all.
Don’t do a detox. Toxins aren’t your enemy, because the term is mostly meaningless.
If you’re worried about your health post-holidays, talk to a doctor. If you think your diet needs work, maybe find a dietitian to help. If you are really concerned about your exercise routine, a fitness coach or exercise physiologist can probably help.
Just don’t try a detox. It probably won’t do anything for your health at all.
*Note: Chocolate fixes no ills, this is a tongue-in-cheek recommendation, if you’re really worried about your health post-festivities see a doctor.