Throwing out the trash
The first day of January is resolution day, and a day when many people decide to purge themselves of ‘toxins’ and lose weight. On January 4th 2016, the host of CBC Radio Q interviewed author Tim Caulfield on a program entitled Are we really ‘detoxing’ — or just renaming the crash diet? Caulfield debunked the crash diet and detox phenomenon, pointing out that going on a short term diet will not have long lasting, sustainable effects.
For a very long time, doctors and scientists have known that the weight people lose on crash diets will come back when the diet is over. As for ‘detoxing’, short term ‘detox’ diets claim to eliminate toxins from the body, promote health and assist with weight loss. But do they work?
What’s the evidence?
What prompted me to write this post is that Caulfield stated that it “is a little bit of a myth” that there are all these toxins in our bodies. The published science clearly says otherwise, including data produced by Health Canada and the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no myth. There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals found in humans, starting even before birth, and the higher the levels, the more likely we are to develop chronic disease. Some of these chemicals are hormone disruptors and can contribute to weight gain.
People differ in how well they can detoxify; some are better than others. Those who are genetically poor detoxifiers to begin with are even more likely to develop chronic medical conditions, including autistic spectrum disorder in children, and cardiorespiratory diseases and immune and neurodegenerative disorders in adults.
What does have the greatest impact on health, both for weight loss and detoxification, is a lifestyle change. Science has proven that since the world has become an increasingly polluted environment, humans are developing more serious medical conditions that are linked to chemical exposures. We have adapted a lifestyle that promotes unhealthy choices. Slick marketing convinces us that buying a multitude of chemical products will better our lives, when in fact, it’s often the opposite.
Chemical pollutants are stored in fat. They must be broken down and eliminated from our bodies. Did you know that most of us contain around 200 chemicals? So when you lose weight, especially those pounds around your belly, these chemicals get released back into the circulation, to be absorbed by other organs and tissues. Your chemical exposure goes up, and the damage to cells leading to chronic illness will actually increase unless you can help yourself detoxify at the same time. Dieting isn’t enough. And obviously, short term detox programs aren’t either because our exposures to environmental pollutants are relentless.
What is Oprah talking about? Hopefully, she is talking about good health, and not just good looks. Having the best looking body doesn’t mean we’ll have the best healthy body. That requires more than diet and exercise and just losing weight. We also need to reduce those man made chemical toxins stored in our bodies, and the change has to be maintained because chemical exposures are contributing to many of the same bad health outcomes as carrying too much weight.
2016 should be the year of our best and healthy bodies.