Detox Products: Scam? or Science?

evolution rI have a pet peeve – professionals using their credentials to oversell products. They first present great information, but then they embellish it and sell a truckload of questionable products.


I do understand that there are people who are sick and need help. I do believe that some of these people need a jumpstart to help their bodies get on the right track. Healthcare professionals dealing with these medical situations must initiate active treatment for acute problems.


Yet, the facts are that when people eat unhealthy foods and lead unhealthy lifestyles, their bodies respond in unhealthy ways. The first treatment after acute care should be to initiate healthy life changes. Most people who are suffering could be helped tremendously by simply giving their bodies what they need and most importantly by avoiding what their bodies do not need. That goes not only for overall health, but also for mouth health.


This brings me to the topic of detoxification. A study by NIH showed that the money spent on alternative medicine in 2007 was $34 billion annually. I suspect the money spent just on detox products today has generated a multimillion dollar industry annually – selling whatever miracle concoction that is popular at the moment to make your body do what it was designed to do in its natural state.


What Is Detoxification?

The word detoxification in the health world has two meanings:

  • One is the medical treatment for people who have drug addictions. This medical practice of detoxification allows the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is designed to prevent potentially life-threatening complications that might appear if the patient were left untreated with their chemical addiction.
  • One is the process that has become popular with entrepreneurs who promote products to help your body rid itself of harmful toxins. The question is, “Are these products necessary above and beyond what your body is capable of doing through its normal process of detoxification?”


No question that there are many toxins getting into our bodies that never were there a few decades ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2010 that 212 chemicals were found in people’s blood or urine, 75 of which had never before been measured in the U.S. population.


These chemicals could present a toxic burden to the body if your liver and kidneys could not remove them or if you were exposed to so many that your body could not deal with the total toxic load.


How Do You Detox?

The main detoxification organ in your body is the liver. Everything you breathe, digest, and absorb into your bloodstream passes through the liver, which is your body’s main filtering system. Many commercial detoxification products make the claim that they “cleanse” your liver. Your liver does not store toxins. The liver actually turns potentially harmful toxic material into water-soluble chemicals that can be removed by your body in a natural way through sweating, exhaling, urinating, and defecating.


Your liver uses a two-phase process to break down chemicals and toxins. During phase 1, toxins are neutralized and broken into smaller fragments. Then, in phase 2, they are bound to other molecules, creating new non-toxic molecules that can be excreted.


It is essential for your body to have adequate nutrients so that liver detoxification can work properly. Many of these nutrients also stimulate the Nrf2 pathway, which in turn begins the body’s process of creating detoxifying and antioxidant biochemicals. If phase 1 and phase 2 of liver detoxification were not to work properly, toxic substances could build up in your body creating disease. Some of the specific foods that provide specific nutrients that support healthy detoxification are:

  • Deep colored fruits and vegetables
  • Sea vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Protein from pastured animals
  • Pastured eggs and organ meats
  • Wild caught fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring
  • Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
  • Onions and garlic
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts


A healthy liver will do a great job of removing toxins, but there are a few diseases that could compromise the process. Diseases like viral hepatitis or alcohol-induced liver disease may not allow normal detoxification. Some nutrients like vitamin A, iron, and copper in high concentrations could also create problems. Disease states of the liver must be treated by a healthcare professional. Detox products have never been demonstrated to treat a diseased liver.


Kidneys also are a part of the detoxifying system. They filter the blood, remove excess water, pass urea that is a byproduct of protein metabolism, and eliminate these wastes through urination.


When healthy nourishment and lifestyle are introduced, the body is able to detoxify continuously and naturally 24/7.


Best Way To Detoxify

When it comes to cleansing the body, one of the best techniques has been fasting. Possibly, the real benefit from the popular cleansing products in the market may be that many of them restrict food for a certain period of time. Some of the medical benefits of fasting include lowering blood sugar, fighting cancer (here, here, here), and causing the death of old and diseased cells.


I practice intermittent fasting in my personal diet. I usually finish eating for the evening after completing dinner by 8PM. Then my next meal the following day generally would be about 1 PM. That translates to an intermittent fast of about 17 hours. Eating six meals a day doesn’t align with our ancestral history.


My Bottom Line

I detoxify daily by eating nutrient-dense foods and practicing intermittent fasting. Science supports these methods.



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Nrf2 is Not a New Password

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      March 14, 2015   [printfriendly]

evolution rNrf2 is not just a few random letters with a number attached. Nrf2 actually means something – something important. For those inquisitive minds that like scientific names, Nrf2 stands for nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2. Actually, Nrf2 is critical for your health. I will describe what this strange “word” is and how it becomes a powerhouse for your body.
Nrf2 is a protein – but a very specific protein. It is called a transcription factor. As a transcription factor, it lives in the cytoplasm of the human cell, and it is ultimately responsible for sending genetic information from the human DNA located in the nucleus of the cell to RNA, which then creates chemicals that help cells perform many health-promoting functions.
The DNA is the unique biological formula for each of us. Every cell in our body (except red blood cells) contains this architectural script for the entire body in its nucleus. There are approximately 25,000 genes in the human DNA. Nrf2 assists more than 500 of those genes to function in ways that increase antioxidant activities, produce anti-inflammatory changes, stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, improve mitochondrial function, stimulate death of damaged cells, and remove toxic material.
Recently, a great deal of research has uncovered Nrf2’s ability to affect detoxification and excretion of both organic pollutants and toxic metals. This is critical in light of our repeated exposures to toxic materials and heavy metals. However, much of what Nrf2 does and how it works are still being discovered.
In order for Nrf2 to function properly, an activator must awaken it. Without an activator, Nrf2 is stored quietly in each cell without benefit to the cell. Once Nrf2 is activated, it moves to the nucleus of the cell to begin its communication with the DNA.
Current research has identified some of the activators that will awaken Nrf2. The majority of these activators turn out to be various nutrient-dense foods, moderate exercise, low-level oxidative stress (hormesis), and caloric restriction (intermittent fasting).
Once activation has occurred, Nrf2 has been shown to prevent and treat a large number of chronic inflammatory diseases including various cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, lung diseases, diseases of toxic liver damage, cancer (prevention), diabetes along with metabolic syndrome and obesity, sepsis, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy.
Modern diets throughout the world cannot provide the necessary nutrients to activate Nfr2 effectively. However diets like the Paleo diet are effective in activating Nrf2. Some of the more powerful nutrient activators are:

  • Olives
  • Sweet potatoes (especially purple sweet potatoes)
  • Tomatoes
  • Leafy, dark green vegetables
  • DHA and EPA from fatty fish
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Cruciferous vegetables

Martin L Pall and Stephen Levine published a paper in February 2015 that reviews the recent research surrounding Nrf2. They reviewed 141 peer-reviewed papers. Their article is well worth reading! In their summary, they make the following statement, “We may be on the verge of a new literature on health effects of Nrf2 which may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventive breakthrough in the history of medicine.”


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