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Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Yesterday, when I was at the gym, I picked up a magazine called "Natural Health" to read while on the eliptical machine (can't run everyday), and I had never read this particular magazine before, but it was one of the few in the sparse selection the gym has to offer. (It was between that and a "People" from May, and I didn't need to relive the breaking coverage of Bragelina or TomKat.) Anyway, in this magazine there was an article that caught my eye: "How to Detox Your Life."

For a reason I can't explain I am always drawn to the word "detox"; I suppose it sounds like the good, thorough cleaning it's supposed to be; however, I always find that I am disappointed by the actual concept. And to be honest, I think it might be a bunch of hooey-balooey. What detox diets claim is that your body stores all kinds of toxins and this causes weight gain and health problems, but with simple detox drinks, vitamins, and foods, the body can flush those toxins and subsequently you can lose weight and feel great. In a sense I can buy this because we consume (or, I consume) many unhealthy products from food to car exhaust (not intentionally -- those days are behind me), so it seems like a good idea to get rid of these icky elements so the body can be clear and clean.

But on the other hand, I think it might just be a clever ploy to get me to drink nasty concoctions, chief of which is the infamous "master cleanser" that consists of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I don't know who thought of that combination, but it is terribly popular. I don't think I could choke such a drink down, but I can guess as to how it would react in my belly (thus, I assume the "master cleansing").

Disgusting drinks aren't the only thing detox promoters want you to ingest; no, they also have a whole host of vitamins and supplements that they advise you to take. In the featured article I read while working out, it suggested you take St. John's Wort (to relieve irritability during detox), vitamin E, linseed oil, ginseng, and ginko biloba. Not to mention all the other ingredients that are dumped into a multi-vitamin. By the time I summed up the article, I figured you would have to just scoop the supplements in with a rake to fulfill the requirements. But I guess you could wash them all down with the cayenne cocktail.

Aside from all varieties of odd things detox diets want me to consume (in order to rid my body of "unnecessary elements" -- hope you're picking up on the irony), I don't buy the fact that your body stores that much waste. From what I can rememeber of college biology, the body is actually pretty efficient at ridding itself of by-products. Isn't that what the liver is for? Isn't the liver like those scum sucking fish you see in aquariums? I think its job is to clean up your system. I also believe that to some degree that's what your kidneys, pancreas, and gallbladder do as well. So, while I'm not a doctor, it seems to me that the body is already pretty good at detoxifying itself. Do I really need linseed oil to help with that? Or maple syrup?

Like too many other dieting gimmicks, I think I have to categorize detoxifying as bogus, or at least, unnecessary. I don't know about you, but all I need is an apple on my way to work (it also helps to get stuck in traffic) to clean out the system. That, or a cup of coffee seems to do the trick.

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