We are often bombarded with “detox” programmes or products that are supposed to help get rid of toxins in our bodies, with several companies marketing it with a spiel that probably reads something along this line: “Nowadays, we are constantly exposed to toxins that enter our bodies and ruin our health.”
Sounds familiar? Let’s just be very blunt right now. Medically speaking, these toxins can’t easily accumulate in our bodies or even penetrate into it and if that happened, we’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention.
Our bodies have protecting mechanisms as the skin forming a protective layer that completely wraps around the body, and areas of the body not covered with skin do not go unprotected. Mucous membranes, the moist linings of the respiratory system, produce mucus – a sticky substance that traps irritants that enter through the nose. Tiny hair-like structures called cilia, line the body’s airways and constantly wave foreign particles and mucus away.
Of course there are some toxins that are produced in our body during different body chemical reactions, but what I want to clarify is this: our bodies are capable of getting rid of them by our ‘detox’ organs such as the kidneys, liver, skin and lungs. And we definitely need to understand how our body gets rid of toxins first before tackling what some wellness companies would argue against.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body when it comes to detoxifying or getting rid of toxins. The liver detoxifies harmful substances by a complex series of chemical reactions.
As you know proteins are viable parts of our everyday diet. When proteins are used by the body cells they produce toxic materials such as ammonia. It’s the function of the liver to detoxify this ammonia into a nontoxic substance.
It inactivates and removes toxic substances that have been ingested, such as alcohol, food additives, harmful minerals, toxic medications, excess hormones, etc.
Suppose you accidentally ate food that is contaminated with a pesticide, the liver will start detoxifying this toxin and convert it into a non-toxic material and after that your body can get rid of it as urine.
They remove toxic wastes such as Urea from the blood and get rid of it through urine. The kidneys are extremely hardworking organs. Do you know that they cleanse all of your blood every 5 minutes? This ensures that waste materials do not build up.
The main function of the intestine is to digest food into very small particles which then pass into the blood to be taken by your cells. Any leftover solid parts of the food move into the large intestine. These solid parts of your food are the parts that you have no use for and are passed from your body when you go to the bathroom.
In your intestines live millions of tiny bacteria which are called “Normal Flora”. Those bacteria are actually the good guys that are there to help your body break down food and allow you to get the most benefit from it. They also prevent pathogenic bacteria “the bad guys” from settling in your intestine. They fight for you!
This is why there is increasingly more popularity and interest in consuming more pre and probiotics in order to ensure a healthy gut flora.
Breathing is the job of the lungs. We take air into our body when we inhale. But air is made of a variety of gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide. We need oxygen, but we can’t use the other gases. Dust and pollutants are also a part of the air we breathe. Our nose and throat help to filter out some of these particles so that they never make it to our lungs.
Our cells produce carbon dioxide. Believe it or not, it’s a toxin that can lead to serious damage if it accumulates in our body. But worry not! Your lungs are there for the rescue as we exhale it all out.
The lymph system
The lymph system plays a crucial part in detoxification and defence. It’s a special system of vessels which carry about two litres of fluid that circulate in our body from the tips of the toes to the top of the head. This fluid is mostly collected from around our cells.
The network of lymphatic capillaries leads to bigger lymphatic vessels and finally to the lymphatic glands (lymph nodes). They are placed in groups all along the lymphatic ways. These lymphatic glands are stations where infectious agents are filtered white blood cells.
If infectious agents intrude into the body, the production of white blood cells increases rapidly. The lymph nodes that are closest to the site react first: they swell, get warm and hurt. (Have you ever got tonsillitis? You may also have notices lumps in your neck. These are some of your lymph nodes reacting to infection).
It’s also a path for the germs and dust that can enter your body. Nasal discharge (snot) is a way for your body to remove unwanted debris. Sometimes, sneezing or blowing your nose helps your body with this job.
The ear canal
It’s a tunnel to the outside world. Dirt and germs can get into this passage. So our bodies have a way to capture this unwanted material. Earwax does the trick. It is a sticky product called cerumen that is created by a gland just inside the ear. Cerumen keeps the skin of the ear canal moist and prevents infections. Sometimes this earwax leaves the body, helping to remove unwanted dirt and germs.
Who knew that there are another ways for your body to clean unwanted things from your eyes? Dirt and other objects can get into your eye, especially when the wind blows.
Not only when you cry heavily over spilled milk (which you shouldn’t do), our eyes secrete tears steadily throughout the day.
The sweat glands
Another way your body gets rid of waste is through perspiration. When your body gets too hot and even sometimes when you get nervous, your body will sweat. Sweat contains urea, salts, sugars, and ammonia. It moves from the sweat glands onto the surface of your skin, and as the air moves across your skin, the perspiration evaporates and cools off your body.
Sometimes your stomach wants to get rid of its contents. Maybe it is because you ate something that was spoiled or too spicy or you just ate too much. But sometimes it is because you have taken on a virus or germ that is irritating your stomach. Whenever your stomach needs to get rid of what is bothering it, the brain sends a message and then the stomach muscles squeeze together to push the food out.
Seems like a gross, gooey and disgusting material that sometimes oozes from a cut or scratch. But really, pus is a good sign that your body is fighting against infection. Pus contains dead skin cells, dead bacteria, white blood cells and debris that your body is removing to make way for healing.
In the fight that took place microscopically within your body ,white blood cells fought against the invading bacteria. Pus is the evidence that your body is doing its job. Pus is dead warriors dying fighting the bad!
The low down
Now you can understand why I told you that toxins can’t easily accumulate in our bodies and if it happens, that means that your internal organs failed to get rid of these toxins. And that means a larger problem – that organ is ill and you are in need of serious medical consultation NOT SOME TEA!
So the idea that you can flush your system of toxins and leave your organs clean is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.
- Detoxifying tablets, face masks, tea bags, tinctures, bath salts, shampoos and body gels are nothing but obscure herbal mixtures with no real purpose, as well as diuretics and laxatives that make you go to the toilet more frequently.
- Detoxing foot pads turn brown overnight with what manufacturers claim is toxic sludge drawn from your body. But it’s just a natural reaction between the ingredients and the moisture or temperature from your foot. Exposing the pads to moisture, either by placing them over a steaming pot of water, or putting a few drops of water on them will make the ingredients turn a darker color and emit an unpleasant odour.
- Detox diets are not good for people with certain medical conditions. For people with diabetes, they may be quite dangerous. Any diet that severely restricts what you eat could lead to dangerously low blood sugar if you take medicine for diabetes, it also deprive your body from important nutrients and there is no research showing they improve blood pressure or cholesterol or have a positive effect on the heart.
- Products they claim to help your kidney and liver get rid of toxins although your kidneys and liver are working just fine; because if they weren’t you would be very ill.
The people who claim to feel better after using the products are just experiencing psychological feelings called the placebo effect because they weren’t sick before.
Now I can tell you that THE ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is exercising, enjoying a healthy balanced diet, avoiding toxins such as smoking. If you have any doubts about having any sort of toxicity, kindly visit your doctor so that they can do the necessary tests.
If your internal organs are functioning perfectly then you don’t need detox products. If they’re are not doing their job well then don’t take detox products, GO see a doctor!
Photo credits: Pixabay