According to Well+Good, beetroots are a detox dream.
According to Well+Good, beetroots are a detox dream.
Image: 123RF / Andrii Klemenchenko

And so it begins again. The annual wailing and gnashing of teeth at too many meals eaten, too many drinks drunk, too much ‘letting it all hang out’. And yes, there is more of it hanging out now. But are your plans to address this appalling state of affairs realistic, logical, in any way bound for success? Failure at this juncture, is too terrible to contemplate. But it’s quite likely, if you follow the omnipresent, seductive waves of misinformation on the topic with which we’re attacked every year – starting when bikini season is still months away, and carrying on until all hope is lost, around early Autumn (when steamed pudding recipes replace self-improvement). 

The main bit of bollocks which stands out again this year, is the detox fantasy (usually intertwined with the juicing fantasy). Detox. What it actually means is to ‘to abstain from substances which are toxic to the body’. So, stopping your heroin habit for example, that’s a detox; not eating three Krispy Kreme doughnuts every morning, probably even better.

Yes, that is the only way you can ‘detox’. By not putting toxins into your body. Very boring, logical, and proven to work. But taking in particular magical items or ingredients which counter this damage? Fairy-stories. Your liver and kidneys – and even your skin - know how to deal with harmful substances (when the odds aren’t too stacked against them, obviously).

It’s what you don’t eat and drink that helps you, not what you do

If our bodies were unable to process and remove these substances, most modern Westerners would be dead at a young age. Somehow, we’ve been tricked into believing that there are miracle ingredients out there which will actively draw anything bad from our bodies, will ‘kick-start’ our livers and metabolism, and will ‘spring clean’ our insides.

Medically, this is a nonsense. When a UK-based group of scientists put together a questionnaire relating to 15 different ‘detox’ products, asking manufacturers to explain what they meant by detoxification, not a single one of the parties asked could either properly define the term nor name the toxins their products were attacking. Bottom line: it’s what you don’t eat and drink that helps you, not what you do.

A total fast is a different story: a short break from everything you chuck into your body (bar water), can definitely work wonders. But a five-day juice ‘fast’? Hilarious. You’ve basically removed some nutritionally valuable foods, found a way to get the rest into your body without chewing (always a bad idea), and if fruits are involved, you’ve retained a whack of sugar, plus with certain fruits you’ve given your liver (where fructose is metabolised) a whole lot more work to do. But I guess the water option seems less sexy.

On that note, the real benefits of detox might be best revealed in lifestyle site Well+Good’s post on beetroot (apparently a detox dream): “Added bonus: beet recipes are exceptionally photogenic, which means they’ll give your Instagram new life, too”. Yup, as with everything nowadays, detox doesn’t work if nobody’s looking.   

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