Sorry for being late. I had an amazing weekend with warm weather, we went out to meet friends and I played computer games with my husband all Sunday. Today, I have already done my Spanish lessons, read 13 pages road code, and all I have left is yoga, cleaning up and updating my CV, and to start looking for jobs overseas. But the weather looks promising, up to 28 C degrees! Anyway, my second coffee (decaf, I really need to stop relying on caffeine) is just done, and I promised a bit on detox.

D is for: Detox

First thing, what we think of detox is mostly the pseudoscientific detoxification and chelation therapy stuff. To understand why scientists insist on that detox is bonkers, you need to know how our body works first. And what our body does is called drug metabolism, or xenobiotic metabolism, because the word toxin is...meh. Everything can be toxic and damaging, it just depends on the dose. The super nutritionists and misogynist Paracelsus knew that already. Just one example: Artificial sweeteners. We all know the study with the rats, where they developed bladder cancers. What we do not know or forget, is that for one, rats are not humans and their enzymes work differently (the one in question is four times slower than the human version). Additionally, lab rats are inbred and have an already higher risk of getting cancer with normal chow (food). And on top of that, these poor rats got pure sweeteners, not coke, in high doses, for 3 weeks. To compare that with a human, you would need to actually eat 3-7 Kgs pure sweetener a day for a year or more of your life.

Back to the metabolism of xenobitotics (=stuff that is foreign to your body). If something goes into our body that is foreign, the body has methods to transform it (biotransformation) to make it less toxic and to get rid of it. But sometimes, the same method actually makes stuff toxic. It is very important to know these things, for examples when it comes to drugs. Do you want a medical drug that is active before you metabolize it, but risk that it is gone fast and therefore only has a very limited window of activity? Or do you want something inactive, where the body makes it active later, which means it hangs around for a long time and works...but then you need to be aware that some people have a genetic makeup that increases the likelihood of overdoses...

Water soluble compounds need to be actively transported into cells, and fat soluble things goes straight through cell walls, uncontrolled. This is he base for the method that the body uses to get rid of things. The number one organ for detoxification is the liver, because everything that we take up by digestion goes straight into the liver. This is called first-pass effect. The liver has all these highly active enzymes, which is why the liver is so important, and has the color it has. the color is iron, bound to the many important enzymes called cytochrome P-450s. The activity depends on personal genetic makeup, but also on hormones and your diet. For example one enzyme has the job of getting rid of the hormones of your pill. Funny thing is, if you eat a lot of grapefruits, this hormone goes into overdrive. But this also means that your oral contraceptive is inactivated faster than before...and does not work anymore. You can also train your liver to deactivate things faster, for example alcohol, or certain poisons: regular intake of low amounts makes the enzymes more active, which helps them deal with high amounts without your body getting damaged.

The metabolism of xenobiotics has three phases. The first one (phase 1) is called modification, and means that enzymes glue something onto the fat soluble compound, or cut something away to make it reactive. Only if it is reactive, the body is able to change it enough to get rid of it. This step is highly chemical, and the body often uses radicals to get its will. Without going into too much detail, which you can read through on wikipedia, the most effective way is to force an oxygen atom into the chemical structure. Because oxygen is reactive as hell. But as I mentioned above, sometimes this step activates drugs, or makes harmless things toxic.

Phase 2 is the conjugation step, which means now that the compound is reactive, it can react with something else. This method is basically the body's way of gluing something on that turns the fat soluble stuff into water soluble stuff.

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Phase 3: modification and secretion. Sometimes the body is unhappy with the way the chemical compound looks like, and adds more things on it to make sure it is really, really easy to get rid of it. And now that the stuff is water soluble, the body can put it into the blood, where it travels to the kidneys, and the kidneys will make sure it does not go back by resorption, but stays in the urine. Good riddance!

Now that we know that the body kicks everything out it does not want, we come back to the Detox-diets. If there is nothing kept around in the first place...what do you actually detox? But then, why do detox diets make you feel so good?

Well, that is easy. Most detox diets focus on fruits and vegetables. Which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber...basically all that is necessary to get everything in the body to function as it should. If your diet was lacking all the nice things, and suddenly everything in your body works as it should because all it ever needed is there in ample amounts, your body will be buzzing and be unfamiliar to you. But it is not because you got rid of hidden toxins, it is because you got finally what you needed in the first place. All repair systems are working. All regeneration is high speed. And if you keep it up long enough, your gut flora will change which makes things even better, because those bugs produce things for your nerve system and immune system, too.

In a nutshell, if you treat your body well and give it all the things it needs, it will love you back, and there won't be the need for a detox diet. Which is false advertisement anyway.