Around this time of year, right after New Year's Day, many people start to think of what they can do to rid themselves of all the excess calories and possible "toxins" they have consumed over the holidays. Indeed, even those who normally follow strict diets often allow themselves to indulge in a few otherwise forbidden foods over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of the problems with those foods doesn't just relate to rich content of processed carbohydrates and bad sources of fat such as trans fat, but also to the notion that these foods contain chemicals that may be harmful to health. Even the word "chemical" seems to inspire fear in many people, who think that a chemical implies that it must be artificial and therefore of questionable safety. Sometimes such fears can be highly contradictory. An example of this is competitive bodybuilders who refuse to consume artificial sweeteners because of widespread notions that they are "unnatural" and can cause health problems ranging from diabetes to brain tumors. Yet these same bodybuilders wouldn't hesitate to ingest or inject large amounts of anabolic hormones. After all, the hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormone, are made in the body, so how bad can they be?
This type of thinking has led to the notion that to be healthy we need to detoxify ourselves. Broadly speaking, a detox diet or program would involve ingesting certain foods and supplements that serve to "cleanse" the body of accumulated toxins. This would allow you to return to a greater state of health, free of chronic disease. And who knows, such detox techniques may even provide a bit of life extension through the elimination of toxins known to speed aging and death by promoting deadly diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. These days, we are inundated with various self-appointed experts who warn us that we must regularly detoxify our poisoned bodies in order to both survive and feel good. Dr.Oz, a heart surgeon who has gradually morphed into an omniscient expert on all things related to health, despite having actual credentials only as a cardiothoracic surgeon, regularly features topics on his television show that purport to offer clinically beneficial detoxification. Another self-styled expert is actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who on her "Goop" website offers detox diets that feature such items as "Godzilla Juice." One can only wonder if after drinking that juice you get the urge to fly to Tokyo and destroy office buildings. Kourtney Kardashian, a woman who is famous for being famous, announced on her 36th birthday that she was detoxing by drinking a brand of herbal-based tea called "Lyfe Tea," which retails for $35 for a two-week supply. She claimed to feel invigorated after drinking the tea and suggested that it was great for use prior to workouts.
These . . .