Detoxing for Dummies

Hi All,

Time for another train of thought episode that some (mostly myself) have kindly called a blog entry. I have an axe to grind today however.

I, like most of the technologically savvy, spend a decent amount of time on Facebook; in fact, Facebook is a very important part of running my business. Facebook is a very important part of a lot of people’s businesses. It is a powerful tool for advertising and it is getting better and better. Mainly in its ability to be very specific about demographics so that each dollar of your advertising budget is going to put your ad up in front of the exact people you want to see it. I blame this for the ever increasing spate of “fitness and health” sponsored ads that show up in my newsfeed. With that in mind, there is one particular sect that annoys me more than most others, and this time it’s not crossfit. It’s been popping up everywhere and I have pretty much had enough. I am going to leave a couple of lines and then spell this out so that it’s very clear what my own (and science’s and medical doctors’) opinion is on the matter:

YOU CAN NOT DETOX YOUR BODY WITH SUPPLEMENTS.

YOU CAN NOT CLEANSE YOUR LIVER WITH SUPPLEMENTS (mostly).

YOU CAN NOT CLEANSE YOUR BODY WITH JUICING, FASTING OR LAXATIVES.

Got it? No herb, chemical, laxative or enema is going to detox your body any more or less than you already do naturally, all the time. A detox is actually meant for serious addiction problems (like hard drugs). It’s a medical procedure to ween the patient of their reliance on the substance and manage the side effects of withdrawal. I’m not just saying this, I have recently seen so much of this stuff appear and people who I know and trust swearing by it that I have been second guessing my own knowledge and decided to look into the matter properly. I will spare you the hours of research I did trying to find one independent scientific or medical professional who thought that detoxing was anything but a marketing scam, but here are a few choice quotes:

“In most cases, the liver, kidney and intestine are so good that they can overcome even the stupidity of the worst dietary insults,” Gershon said. “Juicing and cleansing, however, push the system in an extreme way. They are dangerous even if most people survive. But why take a risk for no gain?”
http://www.livescience.com/34845-detox-cleansing-facts-fallacies.html

“Nutrition and health is about the big picture. What you do for five or seven days out of the year is pretty inconsequential. Rather than worry about ‘detoxing,’ people would be better off thinking about eating nutritious, health-promoting foods on a daily basis. Think leafy greens, beans, whole fruit, nuts, and seeds. The idea that six months of unhealthy eating can somehow be remedied by drinking nothing but green juice for 72 hours is erroneous.” 
http://lifehacker.com/what-happens-in-your-body-during-a-cleanse-or-detox-1669540259

“Any product or service with the words “detox” or “cleanse” in the name is only truly effective at cleansing your wallet of cash. Alternative medicine’s ideas of detoxification and cleansing have no basis in reality. There’s no published evidence to suggest that detox treatments, kits or rituals have any effect on our body’s ability to eliminate waste products effectively. They do have the ability to harm however – not only direct effects, like coffee enemas and purgatives, but the broader distraction away from the reality of how the body actually works and what we need to do to keep it healthy. “Detox” focuses attention on irrelevant issues, and gives consumers the impression that they can undo lifestyle decisions with quick fixes. Improved health isn’t found in a box of herbs, a bottle of homeopathy, or a bag of coffee pushed into your rectum. The lifestyle implications of a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, and alcohol or drug use cannot simply be flushed or purged away. Our kidneys and liver don’t need a detox treatment. If anyone suggests a detox or cleanse to you, you’d do well to ignore the suggestion, and question any other health advice they may offer.” 
https://sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/the-detox-myth-what-your-alternative-health-provider-isnt-telling-you/

“If your goal is weight loss, a detox diet might help you drop a few pounds, but you’ll likely just gain it back. In the end, you haven’t accomplished anything, and it’s certainly not a healthy approach. If your goal is to detox your system, don’t waste your time or money. Your body is an expert at getting rid of toxins no matter what you eat. Toxins don’t build up in your liver, kidneys, or any other part of your body, and you’re not going to get rid of them with the latest detox wonder. Especially avoid diets that promise to detox your liver with supplements or “cleanse” whatever the diet determines needs washing out. The only type of detox diet that is worthwhile is one that limits processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replaces them with more fruits and vegetables. That clean-eating approach is your best bet to getting your body in tip-top shape.” 
http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/detox-diets

“Ernst is less forgiving: ‘Ask trading standards what they’re doing about it. Anyone who says, ‘I have a detox treatment’ is profiting from a false claim and is by definition a crook. And it shouldn’t be left to scientists and charities to go after crooks.’“
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-myth-health-diet-science-ignorance

As you can see from this very limited sample, no one with an ounce of credibility is actually recommending anything to do with a detox or a cleanse. It is beyond frustrating that the industry I work in and have great passion for has so far degenerated into the mess of marketing, buzz words and Instagram models you are presented with every time you open a magazine, turn on the TV or go online. Profiteering through marketing is nothing new and nearly everyone has a story or two or three about something they bought that they felt really good about at the time but later realised was actually pretty useless and certainly not worth the money it cost. I get that successful marketing is going to be your best friend if you are a business in such a competitive and developing industry, but at what point do we need to get some regulation of what is legitimate advice and product and what is utter tripe?

Without some universal standards placed on the fitness industry (this includes exercise and nutrition), those of us who stick to the only method that is proven to deliver sustainable success are being drowned out and will continue to lose ground to products depicted in the emotionally charged marketing campaigns. The appeal of these products is certainly strong. I have been approached and (initially) seduced by each of the big three: Herbalife, Isagenix and Amway (who now also have a dog in the fight for your supplement dollar). These traditional MLM schemes seem like a fantastic idea and are promoted with a stream of success stories. Who wouldn’t want to make a little extra on the side while getting in the best shape of their lives?

However to my eye a deeper look at the products reveals the driver for those involved to be more financially driven than to deliver true health benefits – as has been the constant threads in the noted articles above the health benefits of these products are sketchy at best, and somewhat irrelevant and falsely advertised at worst. They are certainly providing very little real benefit for the (high) cost of the product. Notwithstanding this, I can see ‘benefit’ from the purchase of these products. A community of likeminded individuals, fostering and encouraging achievement can be a strong enabler. Being surrounded by people who respect and understand you (albeit as long as you keep paying and toeing the line) would be a powerful contributor to your success.

If you fully immerse yourself in these products taking on the challenge to promote them and the benefits they purport to provide (and accept that most of your earnings from mining your friends and connections will go to those above you) you can really find a niche where you feel respected and accepted. This could be a fantastic motivator for some.

Looking at things objectively, the advertised results of these products likely comes from a member’s ability to use their new investment as motivation to clean up other areas of their life. In fact, you can do a decent amount of research and find the product itself has only a peripheral impact on the outcome (and as oft proven, absolutely no detox or cleansing affect). Correlation and causation are two different concepts and this seems to be wilfully ignored by those who would push the product on to you. As I stated, if being in a strong minded and achievement focused community is something that will help you on your journey, more power to you but you should do some sums on what you’re actually getting, and what else you might be able to put that money towards to get the same or better results elsewhere, free from the pressure to sell to your friends, family and acquaintances.

These products, the drip-feed MLM products, the rapid fire detoxes or cleanse diets will never have any shortage of willing participants, and this is the part that frustrates me so intensely. We yearn for a solution to our health and fitness problems that just doesn’t require a lot of effort. If we do pony up and decide to put in effort however, we look for that magic supplement that’s going to explode our results because, dammit, if we try hard at something we better become super shredded after a month or so.

Generally speaking though, we have less time and more money and we are sitting ducks for products like this to be paraded in front of us. At some point we will all crack and try something, just to see if it works. It’s also easy to see why we fall into assuming that if it is advertised then it must have been regulated to some extent and therefore held to standards that guarantee the product is not misleading and has the potential to deliver on its promise. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case. Detoxes, cleanses and everything that goes with them are not the silver bullet for the time poor. They are designed to prey on those who seek a quicker result with less involvement in the hard yards. It’s such an easy sell.

It’s true, the fitness industry is both a service industry and an added value business. And in many cases the odd supplemental income is very handy and as I said can seem very seductive. I could have taken this path too, however, my heartfelt desire to see real sustainable success stories from my clients makes the allure of the potential income contradictory – and with the findings of my research not very moralistic. So these products will not be part of my offer. You may choose to explore these yourself, my advice to you would be use your head before getting involved with or buying something. Speak to someone credentialed to give you the simple truths – a nutritionist or a dietician, your personal trainer. Get the word from the horse’s mouth and put a name and a face to the person who is helping you to get results. Do your research on who you see, because there’s just as many shoddy operators in the flesh as there are online but generally speaking if you see someone face to face, they are going to become invested in your success as much as you are and work hard to make sure you get results. Those are the people you should give your money to. Let the opportunists prey on each other. Instagram models live on Instagram and Facebook advertisements. You live in the real world so go see someone who also lives there; you will have much more in common.

Yours in training,

Dan

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