The detox industry is huge, with centers for drug and alcohol detox. Detox diets are big business too. But what does detox actually mean? The first thing that we should understand is that detox is an abbreviation of the word detoxification. Dictionary.com provides the following definitions for detoxification and detox respectively:
A medically supervised treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction designed to purge the body of intoxicating or addictive substances and used as a first step in overcoming physiological or psychological addiction.
treatment designed to rid the body of poisonous substances, esp alcohol and drugs
As far as the dictionary is concerned, there is much more emphasis placed on drugs and alcohol than anything else. However, many health conscious people as well as armchair pundits advocate detox diets and detox juice recipes. But is this an evidenced based approach or is it simply jumping on the detox bandwagon? From my own research into the topic, there is much more fluff surrounding this topic than substance. It is my contention that juice recipes for detox are simply juice recipes for health. I believe the word detox has been hijacked by a combination of marketing, ignorance and follow the crowd mentality. So instead of being another advocate of this misty notion, I want to present a new way of thinking about detox juice recipes. My own ideas are closely aligned with a Voice of Young Science (VoYS) report titled Debunking Detox.
The report opens with the following claim:
The multi million pound detox industry sells products with little evidence to support their use. These products trade on claims about the body which are often wrong and can be dangerous.
Due to the lack of available scientific evidence to support claims of detox diets, I have always been sceptical of the marketing claims. The VoYS report goes a long way to debunking the myths surrounding detox. Below are my favorite quotes from this report. They give us a clearer understanding of the issues.
For maximum effectiveness after a period of indulgence, just follow three simple steps:
- Have a glass of water to help you rehydrate.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Get a good night’s sleep
Juicing can certainly be involved here. But are there specific detox recipes? Not really. If you have a hangover for instance, it would be wise to drink a mixed juice to get as wide a vitamin and mineral profile as possible. This will help you recover sooner rather than later. A large juice gives us more hydrating fluids too.
So rather than a juice recipe for detox, here is a juice recipe for a hangover.
Carrot, Orange and Ginger Juice
Carrots and oranges both contain a high water content so 2 or 3 carrots with 3 oranges and a chunk of ginger should be enough for about 500ml of juice. Beneficial for digestion, and full of vitamin A and C as well as providing potassium and magnesium. This is a great juice to start the day for good health, never mind “detox”.
Common claim made by the detox industry:
Toxins have built up in the body and need to be flushed/cleansed from it.
VoYS respond by saying:
Most chemicals do not accumulate in the body – they are removed by the liver and kidneys.
In some ways, I see detoxing as giving people false hope. If you live a Charlie Sheen lifestyle and “bang 7 gram rocks”, then you need a lot more than organic detox products and detox juice recipes. A complete change in lifestyle is required. Even if your excess is of a different order, for instance, a poor diet, going on a two or three day detox plan every month is not the right thing to do either. Again, it would be much more beneficial to your health to be drinking fruit and vegetable juices regularly, ideally every day, eating good food, exercising and getting sufficient sleep. Rather than seeing detox as the cure, perhaps it is better to just to live a healthy lifestyle.
Another choice quote (my emphasis):
Detox diets are often recommended after periods of excess. The best diet you can have at anytime is a normal, balanced diet.
Many people who believe in a detox diet and detox juices are not necessarily wrong. A lot of the so called detox foods are simply healthy foods. So it is no wonder that you can start to feel better when you go on a detox (diet). In many cases, it is simply an issue of terminology. Rather than thinking of detox, think of health. Instead of going on a detox diet, make changes to your eating habits, exercise and sleeping routine. This will make you feel healthier all the time. You will simply no longer have any need to detoxify your body because you’ll be in great condition!
The VoYS report concludes:
Detox products claim to help you counteract a busy lifestyle by removing ‘toxins’ that have built up in your body. The human body has evolved to get rid of unnecessary substances through your liver, kidneys, and colon. It isn’t possible to improve their function without medical assistance.
If you feel you need to detox, unless you are a drug addict or alcoholic, I suggest that what you really need is to get healthy. The first thing that you should do is to start eating more fruit and vegetables. Ideally you will have access to a juicer. Then you can create juices that will help to move you towards a healthier place. In some ways, if you are just beginning your juicing journey, getting healthy may feel a bit like detoxification.
Apple, Carrot and Ginger Juice
Try substituting oranges, from the recipe above, with apples. This makes the juice even sweeter. You may well find this too sweet once you have gotten used to drinking more vegetable juices. But as a juice to start off with, this is really good. The sweetness of the apples and carrots makes it easy to add some other vegetables to the mix which helps you to adjust your palette to the more earthy flavors.
I am interested to hear where you stand on the detox debate. Fact or fiction?