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Author Topic: Are claims of foods have detoxifying effects valid?  (Read 3638 times)

Offline cheryl j

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On television and in magazines I often see references to foods or supplements that are supposed to, or "may", detoxify the liver or rest of the body. Is there any evidence that anything you can eat actually binds to or removes toxins or poisons from body?
« Last Edit: 17/11/2013 14:49:52 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2013 00:48:54 »
Are the "detox" foods briquettes? 


I believe that activated carbon can be used to bind toxins before absorption in the body.

You may also look up Chelation therapy.

Something like GoLYTELY may at least clean out your intestinal system, although it wouldn't do much for stuff that has already been absorbed.

Peritoneal dialysis isn't really "eating", but consider that your membranes may be considered 2-way membranes. Chelation therapy, or activated carbon may, in fact, also be able to absorb some chemicals back through the gut that had previously been absorbed.

I'm doubting that many of the over the counter detox methods do much, or are needed in general.  Perhaps one could choose a liver-healthy diet, or a kidney healthy diet.  However, at least for the liver, one may do best with just avoiding or treating Hep-B & C, as well as avoiding excess alcohol consumption, and avoiding liver damaging medications including Tylenol (at least in chronic/excess use).  Oh, and also avoid hepatotoxic mushrooms.  With a chronic liver disorder, it becomes more important to avoid various additional risk factors.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2013 00:50:07 »
Yes. If your kidneys are working properly, water will remove most soluble toxins. If your liver is working properly, it will convert many hydrophobic toxins into water-soluble ones for the kidneys to remove. Anything else is excreted in fecal fat.

Detox diet supplements work by removing excess weight from your hip pocket or handbag, depending on where you carry your money.

If you really have ingested plutonium nitrate, we have some aggressive chelating agents but you may prefer to die.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2013 00:52:23 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #3 on: 03/11/2013 09:54:00 »
The really interesting question is "why would you care?"

Our diets today contain far less toxic material than they used to, and our ancestors did OK.
We no longer need to eat food that's only marginally fit for consumption and our water supply is clean.
Even the pesticides we use have changed. Arsenic based ones and DDT went out of use years ago and were replaced by materials expressly chosen to have low human toxicity (while being more effective against pests too).

About the only "toxic" material that most of us now consume in any significant quantity is alcohol- an you can avoid that easily if you wish.


On the other hand, that sort of information, while true, doesn't suit the people who are trying to sell you their "magic" cures.
They spread lies and misinformation so that the average person is worried about a problem that doesn't really exist.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #4 on: 03/11/2013 12:49:07 »
The really interesting question is "why would you care?"



Well, it does bother me for some reason when an idea becomes somehow generally accepted as true because people have heard it so often. I think they know when they see an ad for the Q-ray bracelet which is supposed to change the ions in their body and cure arthritis that is bogus, but I see this detox/cleanse thing all the time.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #5 on: 03/11/2013 13:14:45 »
I agree that you see that sort of thing all the time.
How often do you hear it from people advertising these "detox cures"?
How often do you hear a doctor prescribing it?
Which group is just trying to get your money?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #6 on: 04/11/2013 14:57:48 »
Keep in mind your body is made of chemicals, and derives energy from chemical reactions.
Our diets today contain far less toxic material than they used to, and our ancestors did OK.
We no longer need to eat food that's only marginally fit for consumption and our water supply is clean.
Such a conclusion would have to depend on one's time of history, and what one is considering toxic.

Prior to significant mining, say a few thousand years ago, most of the water would have been generally free of chemicals and heavy metals, although there would still have been risk of biological exposure.  Would humans have drank out of mud puddles, or chosen to search for clean water sources?  That might have depended on where they were living, and access.

Many microorganisms can either directly attack people, or they can produce toxins which often build up such as botox, or staph aureus toxin.

Historical food would have been different.  Certainly less sugar/starch, and more risk of biological contamination.  People may have experimented with more foods, but generally would have learned what made them sick.

We've also been adding chemicals to just about everything.  Virtually all municipal water is now chlorinated.  Processed food is packed with preservatives, and color enhancements. 

It is, of course, tightly regulated by the government.  However, the government deals with demands of both industry and consumers.

There has been a huge effort to reduce lead from diets, but it may still be prevalent in some communities.  Or, perhaps it could be encountered with exposure to old paints.

Many chemicals are divided into water soluble and fat soluble.  The water soluble chemicals are rapidly metabolized or excreted.  The fat soluble chemicals can remain in your body for a substantial amount of time.  Some metals can also get into bones and teeth and also stick around for some time.

Anyway, to get rid of most of the water soluble chemicals...  just avoid the exposure for a few days and the load will be reduced.

For fat soluble chemicals, again the best would be avoiding exposure, perhaps for months.

The same thing for heavy metals.

Activated Carbon, and various chelating agents would be most appropriate for acute exposures, and generally of no use for random "detox".

Do you need "detox" treatment?
That would depend on what you're concerned about.

Certainly some drugs such as narcotics can be very disruptive to people's lives, and may necessitate discontinuing.

The best thing is that if you are concerned about something, then stop eating it.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #7 on: 04/11/2013 15:18:46 »
Well, I know there's heavy metals in the artist's oil paints I use. I should have worn rubber gloves over the years, but I never did. In the distant past, I worked with xylene, acetone, formaldehyde and other stuff in the lab. So I've probably been exposed to worse stuff than a lot of people. But actually, I wasn't thinking about myself as much as just wondering why people don't question how those products work.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2013 18:15:50 by cheryl j »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #8 on: 04/11/2013 17:04:04 »
When I was at school, we messed around with mercury in the physics class with no precautions at all. I hate to think how much was pooled under the floorboards, filling the classroom with mercury vapour overnight...
 

Offline RD

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #9 on: 04/11/2013 18:06:58 »
When I was at school, we messed around with mercury in the physics class with no precautions at all. I hate to think how much was pooled under the floorboards, filling the classroom with mercury vapour overnight...

Your school-teacher should be more concerned about exposure to asbestos  ...
Quote from: asbestos.com
There are a growing number of cases of teachers and adult school workers who have asbestos-related diseases because of exposure in their schools. One study from the National Center for Health Statistics listed elementary school teachers as a high risk occupation for developing mesothelioma
http://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/schools.php
 

Offline healthresearch

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #10 on: 04/11/2013 18:50:30 »
Certain toxins, such as dioxins, which are carcinogenic, dissolve in fats, so they accumulate in the body fat. I assume that a thorough fasting course lasting for x weeks, during which a lot of body fat would be burnt, would result in removal of certain fat-soluble toxins.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #11 on: 04/11/2013 19:56:39 »
It's disappointing to see stuff like this "In one study involving teachers from Wisconsin, 12 cases of mesothelioma were reported. Nine of the 12 had no other known exposure to asbestos outside of asbestos-containing materials found in the buildings where they worked."
from Asbestos.com

They should know better. Since asbestos gets used in things like brake linings, it's everywhere so the assertion that they "had no other known exposure to asbestos outside of asbestos-containing materials found in the buildings where they worked."
is, at best., a grave error.

"Certain toxins, such as dioxins, which are carcinogenic, dissolve in fats, so they accumulate in the body fat. I assume that a thorough fasting course lasting for x weeks, during which a lot of body fat would be burnt, would result in removal of certain fat-soluble toxins."
How, where could they go?
They would be released into the bloodstream. Now, some of them would subsequently be destroyed by the liver but that's probably not going to do the liver any good. It may be better to leave them stuck in the fat.

"Well, I know there's heavy metals in the artist's oil paints I use. I should have worn rubber gloves over the years, but I never did. In the distant past, I worked with xylene, acetone, formaldehyde and other stuff in the lab. So I've probably been exposed to worse stuff than a lot of people. But actually, I wasn't thinking about myself as much as just wondering why people don't question how those products work."
Many of those things will soak straight through gloves.
Acetone and formaldehyde are normal metabolic by-products. The body knows how to get rid of small quantities of them.
In any event, they are either lost by various processes- evaporation from the lungs, degradation by the liver etc or they react with materials in the body.
They don't hang round so you can't get rid of them with a detox- they are already gone.

"Prior to significant mining, say a few thousand years ago, most of the water would have been generally free of chemicals and heavy metals,"
If you were lucky, but if you happened to live downstream from an outcrop of lead ore- it got into your water supply.

"Would humans have drank out of mud puddles, or chosen to search for clean water sources?  "
They would probably have chosen "clean" water- if they had a choice. But there are two issues- bacteria are too small to see and soluble materials even harder to spot so, prior to microbiology and toxicology, how would they have recognised "clean" water?
Also, people don't have a choice between "clean water" and "dirty water" they usually have a choice between "the water that is within reach" and "no water".
Guess which they go for?

"Many microorganisms can either directly attack people, or they can produce toxins which often build up such as botox, or staph aureus toxin."
And, until the "germ" theory of diseases was recognised about 150 years ago or less, nobody knew about them so they couldn't avoid them. That's part of the reason the death toll was rather high.

"Historical food would have been different.  Certainly less sugar/starch, and more risk of biological contamination.  People may have experimented with more foods, but generally would have learned what made them sick."
Yep, and the poor sometimes ended up eating foods that they knew were going to make them ill.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lathyrism#Historical_occurrence

Don't forget that many people didn't have much choice for their "experimentation".

"We've also been adding chemicals to just about everything."
Apart from the obvious question about what else could we add since everything is made of chemicals, the reply to that is "so what?"
The things we add have been tested extensively. On the other hand, many "natural" foods are more or less toxic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycoside#Cyanogenic_glycosides
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanine

"Virtually all municipal water is now chlorinated. "
You prefer the risk of cholera etc?
And even chlorine is being phased out on account of  a (largely theoretical) risk of carcinogenesis.

"There has been a huge effort to reduce lead from diets"
Has there?
There have been efforts to replace lead pipes and to reduce environmental contamination by lead in petrol, but not a lot of effort on food.


"Anyway, to get rid of most of the water soluble chemicals just avoid the exposure for a few days and the load will be reduced."

Indeed, a few days without water soluble chemicals (like vitamin C and salt) will solve all your problems

"For fat soluble chemicals, again the best would be avoiding exposure, perhaps for months."
Followed by death from a lack of vitamins A,D,E not to mention starvation.

Do you realise that everything is made from chemicals?

"The best thing is that if you are concerned about something, then stop eating it."
How?
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #12 on: 04/11/2013 20:10:04 »
In some parts of the world today, falling groundwater levels are causing arsenic to dissolve in human water supplies.
Arsenic has a justifiably bad reputation...
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenic_contamination_of_groundwater
 

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Re: Detoxifying claims
« Reply #12 on: 04/11/2013 20:10:04 »

 

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