Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Detox Facts

Detox, detox – is it a new fad?  Not exactly.  Its origins began in the 19th century with the theory of auto-intoxication, a term coined by Charles Bouchard, a French physician. Other physicians further defined the theory by describing the phenomenon as caused by the putrefaction or decay of proteins in the intestine generating offending toxins. This theory dominated a major part of the 19th century and has survived to this day.During that time, people were told that constipation was at the root of most diseases and the term, auto-intoxication, became the mantra of the medical community. In 1852, a publication called The People’s Medical Lighthouse, a series of popular scientific essays on nature, uses and diseases of the lung, heart, liver, stomach, kidney, womb and blood had this to say about this common digestive problem: “daily evacuation of the bowels is of utmost importance to the maintenance of health”; without the daily movement, the entire system will become deranged and corrupted.” People’s Medicine Lighthouse, Lecture 71. Harmon Knox Root, A.M, M.D. 1852. This theory led to colon cleansing (which still is performed  today), which can be dangerous and is not recommended.  However, detox is now more commonly associated with juicing and cleanses primarily for the gastrointestinal system. 

Do we need juice fasts and cleanses?  No – our liver, kidneys, digestive and respiratory systems work together to detoxify the body.  Most juicing plans or other cleansing concoctions do not provide the calorie or nutrient requirements we need daily. Protein is a especially a problem.  Proteins provide the necessary amino acids we need for protein synthesis.  If these are not available for days the synthesis of needed proteins will be affected adversely.



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The Supplement Con?

The old snake oil salesmen are alive and well and now dwell in the diet supplement industry. There is just so little evidence that most of them offer any benefits with some exceptions when diet supplementation is necessary for medical reasons. Regulation appears to be almost impossible unless consumers demand it; however, that is also unlikely. Many people do not favor giving up their often useless supplements even when they know the facts. It shows the power of the placebo on which most of them (the supplements) operate.

See a previous post from 2012 HERE.


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Websites: How reliable are they?


The article provides good advice for any website, but especially medical or nutrition websites.  They often seem to promote misinformation that sometimes borders on the absurd or at the least,  unsubstantiated by sound research.

Who can you believe? The term “nutritionist” is not legally defined and is used by a wide variety of people from those who seek a PhD from a non-accredited school to health food store representatives with no formal training. Registered Dietitians (RD) are nutritional professionals who have completed a a four year college degree and additionally  have met established criteria to certify them to provide nutrition counseling. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Medical Association and the American Institute for Cancer Research are non -profit organizations that provide reliable sources of nutrition information.