Everyday Toxicology – Digging Deeper, Detoxing Your Body

Previously we've discussed how our bodies absorb, process, and eliminate ingredients we consume. In this post, we'll take a look at detoxifying our body and explore if we need expensive detox teas or other remedies to help support our health.

What are toxins?

As we've discussed in prior posts, almost anything can become toxic, even water, at the right dose! 
In popular media, the word toxin is often defined very differently than in science. In popular media, someone may refer to sugar, gluten, artificial sweetenersmonosodium glutamate, saturated fats, caffeine, and many other Subscribe for weekly updates_ go.msu.edu/cris-connectingredients as "toxins." These perceived “toxins” are safe and do not cause adverse health outcomes when consumed in moderation.
In science, a toxin refers to poisonous substances created naturally by living organisms such as botulinum toxin. Toxicants refer to substances that are typically human-made such as chlorine gas. These ingredients range in toxicity and the potential harm they can cause, which is again closely linked to the dose of exposure. 

Are there toxins in the products we consume?

We inevitably encounter small amounts of toxins and toxicants in our daily life. But, as we learned from our previous blogs on dose and dose-rate our body can safely process and eliminate small amounts of toxins and toxicants when we are exposed without suffering adverse health effects.

In order to protect public health in the USA, the FDA developed regulations to ensure food products do not contain harmful amounts of toxins or toxicants. When it comes to medications that may contain toxins, like Botox, again, the FDA works to ensure the correct dose and dose-rate are used to prevent any harm. 

GRAS ingredients and other ingredients such as artificial sweeteners are not toxins and are safe when consumed and used in typical quantities unless there is a specific allergy. 

Do I need to detox my body? 

Nope. As long as our organs are functioning correctly, our bodies are capable of filtering and eliminating any unneeded ingredients and byproducts. 
Four vital organs help breakdown and facilitate the elimination process: 

  • Liver: The liver primarily processes nutrients to be used throughout the body and modifies toxicants, often making them more water-soluble so that they can be more easily eliminated from the body by our kidneys.
  • Kidneys: The kidneys mainly filter blood to help remove toxins and byproducts from our body via urine.
  • Colon: The colon eliminates byproducts from our body via bowel movements.
  • Lungs: The lungs eliminate airborne toxins via breathing. 

Will detox teas, pills, cleanses, and other supplements help improve and detoxify my body? 

At this time, here is no evidence to support that a detox pill, tea, cleanse, or other supplements will improve health and organ function.
As we've discussed in a previous blog, supplements such as detox teas or pills are not FDA-approved, meaning they do not undergo the same scrutiny and do not have the same research threshold FDA-approved medications receive. While the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does regulate the marketing claims made by companies selling supplements, they do not approve supplements before they're sold. The FTC can only recall products after they've been reported for misleading the public. 
If you're experiencing ill health, or your body is unable to eliminate properly, that is a sign to seek medical assistance. Before attempting any detox or cleanse or taking any supplement to help enhance your health or cure an ailment, it's best to discuss your concerns with a state-licensed and credentialed medical physician. 

Is there anything I can do to improve my body's ability to eliminate?

Yes, there are many simple, proven activities you can do to support your organs’ abilities to successfully absorb, process, and eliminate ingredients. You can:

  • drink plenty of water (1).
  • eat a balanced, nutritious diet (1).
  • exercise regularly (1,2).
  • get plenty of sleep (1).
  • limit alcohol consumption (1).
  • quit smoking (1,2). 

The above are all scientifically proven ways you can improve and/or maintain your health without the need for fad detox cleanses or supplements.

What does it all mean?

When in good health, our bodies are fully capable of absorbing, processing, and eliminating ingredients without the addition of detoxes or supplements. The best way to optimize our bodily functions is not through trendy, fad diets or detoxes; it's by living an overall healthy lifestyle. 


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