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Is There Such A Thing As A Detox Diet?

Right now, detox diets are all the rage. People love the idea of getting all of the toxins out of their bodies, purging them of harmful industrial chemicals, pollutants, and even additives that might hurt them.

You can see why this idea is so appealing. Most educated people know that their homes, places of work, and even the cities in which they live are chock full of harmful chemicals that could be doing nasty things to their bodies.

We already know that there are high levels of mercury in fish, dangerous particles in diesel exhaust fumes, and microplastics in our drinking water. It’s enough to drive you crazy with worry.


Is There Such A Thing As A Detox Diet?


Detox diets full of fresh juices and green veggies, all promise to detoxify us, making us look and feel healthier than we ever could otherwise.

But is it true? Can your diet really make a difference to the level of toxicity in your body?


How Your Body Actually Detoxes

Your body is very good at “detoxing.” Detox reactions, for instance, happen in the liver every time you drink alcohol. Special enzymes and cells in the liver break down the alcohol in your blood into byproducts like sugar, which you can then use for energy. The liver is also pretty good at taking other substances out of the blood that you don’t want there in high amounts, like homocysteine.

If you go to a medical detox center, you’ll hear a lot about the idea of detoxifying. When you remove certain substances from a person’s blood, this is literally what you’re doing: removing a toxin from their body.

Diets, on the other hand, cannot by themselves detoxify the body. While green veggies might look as if they have powerful detoxifying action, they cannot, by themselves, remove harmful chemicals from the body. The body itself has that task.


How Diet Can Help


That’s not to say, however, that diet can’t help. It can - a lot.

Some foods in the diet are more rammed full of pollutants than others. A person, for instance, who eats a lot of seafood, is getting more heavy metals and PCBs than a person who lives wholly off organic, land-based plant matter. Plants are lower down the food chain and so tend to accumulate fewer poisons.

Certain foods, like smoked meats, actually contain a high level of things that are known to be toxic to human cells. Compounds called heterocyclic amines found in things like bacon, cured meats, and smoked salmon, damage the epigenome and force cells to get older faster than they would otherwise.

Nutrition science, however, knows of precious few foods that actually detoxify the body all by themselves.

The one exception to this is broccoli. When prepared in the right way, broccoli releases a compound called sulforaphane into the bloodstream. This chemical then activates the liver’s detoxifying enzymes, making them work faster and harder than they otherwise would.

So the bottom line is that: diets don’t detox your body, although a couple of foods might. Most of the time, the best detox is just to avoid the toxins in the first place.

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