Read This Before You Start A Detox Diet Plan

Read This Before You Start A Detox Diet Plan

[Image Credit: Suzette – www.suzette.nu]

 This is part of the “What we should really be eating?” series. I’ve already covered why we should do our own research when it comes to food, and whether eating synthetic or artificial foods is actually safe or not

You’re about to spend $10, $50, or $400 to get on a detox diet plan. Before you open your wallet though, you should know that this detox diet plan you’re considering is a scam.

Even though I don’t know which plan you’re considering, I can still confidently say, it is a scam. In this article I detail why.

This is a long article, so quickly jump to each section by clicking on one of the links below:

  • A. How detox diets mislead you into believing you actually need them
  • B. Why detox diets don’t work in any way other than emptying your wallet
  • C. Why people are often feeling well when on a detox diet
  • D. When detox diets become dangerous
  • E. The most common detox diet red flags
  • F. The fail-proof way to optimal health and sexy results

Ready? Let’s start with the latest detox diet plan gimmick a quick Google search uncovered.

A. Making you think you need them – and other detox diet gimmicks

Introducing: The Toxicity Quiz directly from Dr Oz’s website.

In this quiz, you answer a handful of questions about your symptoms in the last 30 days – any symptoms:

  • Do you have enough energy?
  • Stuffy nose?
  • Headaches?
  • Chronic coughing?
  • Nausea?
  • Mood swings?

After a few pages of answering questions, you calculate your total “toxicity score.” If it’s less than 10, then that’s optimal. Above 10 though, you get into mild or moderate toxicity levels. If it’s more than 100 then you’re in trouble: severe toxicity!

It’s Doctor Oz approved – toxins are responsible for pretty much any illness. And should you find yourself with any symptom, then that’s a hint you have a toxicity problem.

I didn’t do the quiz, but judging from the fact I was recently diagnosed with bronchitis, not to mention the ear pain from riding 6 miles with my bike with the cold wind literally freezing my ears, I’d definitely not get “optimal” at the toxicity quiz. So what should I do?

So what if you find yourself with a toxicity problem?

Do the 10-Day Detox Diet Plan! Complete the detox diet plan, and then take the Toxicity Quiz again. Compare with “before.” Feel good about yourself.

So what is the 10-Day Detox Diet Plan?

Dr. Mark Hyman, the creator of the diet, writes:

“What if I told you that you could change your life in JUST 10 Days? That I could teach you how to reset your metabolism, break free from your cravings, and lose weight?

[…]

And that’s exactly why I created the 10-Day Detox Diet – I wanted to teach you how easy, fast and delicious it can be to lose weight and create health. Just follow this proven program, and in 10 days not only can you lose up to 10 pounds, but you may also turn the tide on chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes, asthma, joint pain, digestive problems, autoimmune disease, headaches, brain fog, allergies, acne, eczema and even sexual dysfunction.”

This diet seems like miracle. In just 10 days you may cure all sort of different diseases! If your toxicity score was not optimal, then you MUST try it.

So you remove grains, dairy, sugar, anything in a package, cookies, beans, starches, coffee and alcohol, among others. You add:

  • 7-8 hours of sleep at night
  • Walking for 30 minutes a day
  • Multivitamins
  • Drink water
  • Daily deep breathing and or/journaling

And just watch yourself shed the pounds, getting a clearer skin, and then ending the diet with a lower score on the Toxicity Quiz!

B. Detox Diets – Scams?

At first the theory sounds reasonable. Toxins don’t sound like a good thing. And we know that toxic substances are linked to diseases.

We also know how important food is for our health.

Hey, even LiveStrong supports detox. (And yes, I used to respect their site, until I discovered they’re supporting the detox scam.) Let’s dive in.

Just like we store fat, isn’t it possible that we also store toxins? And that then those toxins make us sick? And that if we then eat the right food, toxins will go away?

Well, here’s what on the Harvard Medical School’s website:

“We tend to forget that the body is equipped with a detoxification system of its own, which includes the following:

  • The skin. The main function of the body’s largest organ is to provide a barrier against harmful substances, from bacteria and viruses to heavy metals and chemical toxins.
  • The respiratory system. Fine hairs inside the nose trap dirt and other large particles that may be inhaled. Smaller particles that make it to the lungs are expelled from the airways in mucus.
  • The immune system. This exquisitely orchestrated network of cells and molecules is designed to recognize foreign substances and eliminate them from the body.
  • The intestines. Peyer’s patches — lymph nodes in the small intestine — screen out parasites and other foreign substances before nutrients are absorbed into the blood from the colon.
  • The liver. Acting as the body’s principal filter, the liver produces a family of proteins called metallothioneins. Metallothioneins neutralize harmful metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury to prepare for their elimination from the body. Liver cells also produce groups of enzymes that regulate the metabolism of drugs and are an important part of the body’s defense against harmful chemicals and other toxins.
  • The kidneys. The fact that urine tests are used to screen for drugs and toxins is a testament to the kidneys’ remarkable efficiency in filtering out waste substances and moving them out of the body.”

Ok so our bodies detoxify on their own. But isn’t it possible, that by eating certain foods we can accelerate this process?

Dr. Oz agrees that indeed our body detoxifies on its own (but hey if he agrees, then why does he feature a “Toxicity Quiz” on his website?). Now what if we could boost this process? He adds on Oprah:

“When I say “cleanse,” I mean it in the sense of true cleaning—a strategy that helps your body rid itself of toxins. We’re exposed to harmful substances all the time; they’re in our diet (pesticides, microbes, and mercury, to name a few) and the very air we breathe (think disinfectants, deodorizers, and the gasses released by fresh paint). Fortunately, we have an excellent system in place to handle those toxins: Enzymes throughout the body are continuously breaking them down and helping to flush them out.

My 48-hour detox works by optimizing that system. It involves eating whole foods that are packed with nutrients believed to boost the activity of the enzymes and nourish the body’s most important detoxifying organs—the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, and the colon—so they can do their jobs better and more efficiently. ”

Apparently if you follow this 48-hour detox diet plan, the nutrients are believed to boost the enzymes’ activity.

Morton Tavel, MD., Clinical Professor Emeritus of Medicine, responds:

Despite what is said by Dr. Oz, the concept of detoxification lacks scientific validity. He is simply fantasizing for the benefit of his TV audience.

And he’s not the only one. Rene Ficek, a Registered Dietitian from Seattle, commented:

To this day, there has yet to be a scientific article published showing how some foods make this process better or faster.

C. But why do people often feel good when on a detox diet plan?

You consume more fruits and vegetables. And who here consumes the recommended vegetable portion every day?
Most detox diets include veggies. According to the US government’s “My plate” I should be eating 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. Who’s scoring that every day?

Most detox diets force you to get the recommended serving – plus some more.

You eat less and feel lighter. Esp. if you’ve been eating like a pig. Who hasn’t felt this before?
Raise your hand if you often finish a holiday season and feel like you need to “detox.” I feel this almost every year after consecutive days of eating a lot of food –  a common practice in the holiday season. In the past, I’d have even used the “detox” term myself.
But this is no detox. This is no attempt to “remove toxins.” This is just listening to my body. Isn’t it normal to feel like eating less after a few days of eating a lot?

You don’t get the lethargic feeling you get after a big portion of carbs. Higher energy – just like that!

It’s no secret that consuming a big bowl of pasta or any big carb-based meal is highly likely to make you feel sleepy. It’s known as the “carb crash.” Most detox diets prohibit the foods that could cause a carb crash if consumed in big quantities. So if you were they type of person who ate a lot of pizza, bread or pasta, you’re suddenly living on veggies.

Suddenly you don’t feel sleepy after lunch and go back to work feeling light. This detox thing must be working!

You do some of the extra stuff often recommended with detox diets like – sleeping, taking multivitamins, or exercising.
The 10-day Detox Diet Plan recommends sleeping well at night, exercising, etc. Wouldn’t you feel better if you went from zero exercise to 30 minute of exercise a day?

Wouldn’t you feel better if you improved your sleep patterns?

You get the point.

Now all this is no proof that you’re detoxing. Eating differently and living differently? Yes. Removing toxins from the body because you changed how you eat? No.

But what about weight loss?

Won’t you lose weight if you eat less? Yes, you will. However, beware of the big weight loss claims made in detox diets. Most of it is nothing more than water shed from the body. It’s not fat melted. Let’s take the 10-Day Detox Diet for example.

The claim is that you’ll lose up to 10 pounds in 10 days. That’s 1 pound a day. You need to consume 3500 calories less to lose 1 pound of fat. Can you consume 3500 calories less in one day? No, that’s absurd.

I need 1500 calories to maintain my weight, possibly 1800 on the days when I exercise.

Even if I were to eat nothing on that day, that’s 1800 calories at most.

However, 1 pound of water I can easily lose. Hey, my husband realizes he’s gained 4-5 pounds every time we come back home after 20+ hours of airplane flights. He loses those pounds in the next 2-3 days. But that’s no fat. It’s water.

Diets intentionally mislead you with their bold “bazillion” pounds lost in record time claims. They know you can’t lose that amount. But they don’t care to explain the truth about what you should really expect.

D. Can detox diets and cleanses be dangerous?

Morton Tavel, MD.,  says that yes they can be dangerous.

“Nutritional deficiencies and blood-sugar problems are serious drawbacks. Some plans that restrict solid foods often call for laxatives, resulting in frequent liquid bowel movements. If a fast lasts for several weeks, it may lead to muscle breakdown and a shortage of many basic nutrients, depriving the body of the vitamins and minerals obtained from food. Thus, in contrast to the claimed benefits, a fast can actually weaken the body’s ability to fight infections and inflammation.”

But there is more. Some detoxes won’t give you the necessary protein (buy buy muscle tissue), or nutrients that your body needs.

Don’t get me started with colon cleanses, another popular form of detoxes. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Family Practice concludes: “Patients may look to colon cleansing as a way to ‘enhance their well-being,’ but in reality they may be doing themselves harm.”

Also, if you have a history with disordered eating, do you really think going on a detox diet will help? Or will it get you back in the state of fear and non-normal eating?

Finally, even if you lose weight during a detox, how likely are you to gain it back as soon as you go back to your normal eating? I hate putting so much effort and then ending up with nothing. And following a detox to the letter is hard work – even if it’s just two, ten, or 21 days.

E. Detox Diet Plan Red Flags

I’m not saying that people who create detox diets are bad people who intentionally want to deceive you. Contrary I’ve met a lot of well-meaning people who actually believe that changing your diet can help you remove toxins. Sometimes the suggested diet might even be a “good diet.” It’s just that even when the diet is a good diet, it’s not a “detox diet.”

Because even good “detox” diets don’t have the abilities to change “toxicity.” So before you get into a detox diet plan, check out for these red flags first:

1. Toxins are never named.

Our body “stores toxins” but they are never named. Nobody knows what they are, or where they are.

2. Huge results in little time.

Just like Dr. Oz’ 10-day diet, the results seem almost untrue.

3. Several diseases will be avoided (it’s not atypical to “avoid” 10 or more diseases) by following THIS detox diet plan.

Magical thinking. Do this ONE thing and your life will be transformed.

4. Detox Diet Plan is so calorie-restrictive, you’ll end up eating less than 1000 calories a day

Consuming less than 1000 calories a day is considered very, very unsafe.

5. The text speaks about scientific studies, but the studies are never specified.

“A 2006 study showed that…”, yet no reference. A red flag.

When Detox is Not a Fad

I’ll let Tracy from Fit is a Feminist Issue explain:

“[…] there are medical applications of the term “detox.” It refers to a pretty horrible process of withdrawal that people addicted to substances like alcohol or narcotics go through when they are attempting to quit, or people who have ingested poison have to go through to literally clean out their systems.”

Do you have an addiction? Alcohol- and drug- addicts do. And they need to detox. But their detoxing has absolutely no relation to the detox diets I’m addressing in this article. So yes, detox diets are scams. It’s just that the word detox does have meaning for addicts.

F. The unsexy truth that will give you sexy results

Sensible diet, exercise, water, good sleep.

I know – so unsexy. But it’s true. This is the secret to optimal health and sexy results.

Detox diets can be useless at best, dangerous at their worst. And quite often – expensive.

20 Responses to Read This Before You Start A Detox Diet Plan

  1. My doctor brother has long been telling me that detox is a scam, but wow, it’s so hard to believe that when a belief is so ingrained, isn’t it? I’ve done three-day “orange juice” diets, which I thought were detox, but I guess it should be called a fruit fast. It was ver helpful in re-setting my body to want to eat only healthy food. After that fast I lost all desire for desserts and oily food (for a while at least). I guess things should be called by their name and not promise the impossible. In my case, I understand the fast helped me form good habits quicker than if I hadn’t done it (I started eating healthier), but it was not for weight loss nor for “detoxing” ( though at the time I thought I’d done plenty of cleansing!)

  2. I actually agree with being careful with these detox plans., I have a solution to detox, the BEMER, from Germany. It creates 30% more circulation which gets your cells to the microcirculation area(71% of your body. It helps prevention, pain of chronic conditions and disease.. It also detox’s your body through the nite. It is a simple German device that helps your body create vasomotion to move the cells to benefit from nourishment, oxygen, and waste removal. I agree with Maria, eat right, sleep, reduce intake of the toxins and provide good nutrition that is proven to actually raise your antioxidants, and deep breathing and journaling,excercise and take time for yourself. Maria, I think your posts are very valuable advice and you look great.

    • I don’t think you read this article properly. And I just hope you’re one of those people who is unwittingly misguided albeit genuinely well-intentioned and not an evil snake-oil pusher.

  3. While the word “detox” has indeed often been misappropriated, that doesn’t mean every plan that capitalizes on the popularity of the word is worthless. Dr. Hyman’s 10-day plan (distinct from Dr. Oz’s 48-hour one—it just happened to make an appearance on his show and website) is primarily an elimination diet rather than the typical juice-fast, and whether it does it by addressing “toxicity” or not, it does help people. In this case, “detoxing” partly refers to reducing exposure to toxins and other harmful stressors (“toxic” behaviors/habits, etc.) in your diet and lifestyle, which inherently will reduce the toxic load in your body even if they are still eliminated at the same rate. And most people considering this plan are indeed addicted to one or more of the substances eliminated on the plan—sugar/flour-based foods, caffeine, and alcohol. We also know that diet and lifestyle changes can improve metabolism, and metabolism is vital to the function of all cells, including those involved in detoxification. Food chemicals like chlorophyll are known to bind and remove some toxins as they pass through the gut… There are a lot of dots to connect here, and clearly more research is needed (the question is who will fund it), but I don’t think the concept of detoxification as Dr. Hyman explains it is really that big a leap. I know the appearance on Dr. Oz makes him an easy target, but I would recommend actually reading one of his books, hearing him speak, or looking into his work before using him as an example of a scam.

    • Hi Frazier, thanks for your comment. I’m copying-pasting from above:

      “I’m not saying that people who create detox diets are bad people who intentionally want to deceive you. Contrary I’ve met a lot of well-meaning people who actually believe that changing your diet can help you remove toxins. Sometimes the suggested diet might even be a “good diet.” It’s just that even when the diet is a good diet, it’s not a “detox diet.””

      That’s why I’m not calling Dr. Hyman a scammer, I’m calling out the fact that he called his 10-day diet a “detox diet.” I’m not even judging whether this or any other diet are good or bad – I’m commenting on the word “detox.” No detox is taking place, so they should advertise their diets in some other way that is actually valid.

      This particular diet suggests will cure you from all sort of different diseases and involves the Toxicity Quiz. He suggests taking the Quiz before and after the diet to measure the change in “toxicity.”

      http://www.doctoroz.com/article/10-day-detox-diet-jump-start-guide

    • I noticed that, but it doesn’t negate the overall message of the article—A “scam” implies intentional trickery/fraud, and calling someone’s product a scam IS calling them a scammer. I think it’s a bit harsh to group people who are helping make the world healthier while being loose with the definition of a word with people who willingly bankrupt others and don’t look back. (And again, there are many reasons to suggest the concept may have some merit—lack of evidence is not evidence against.)

    • Frasier, I stand by my choice to call the product a scam, while not calling the creators scammers. The reason is that I personally know many people who promote detox diets, and I know that they care, and that they are extremely well-intentioned.

      Calling them scammers would imply they one day sat down and thought “hey, how can I deceive people today?”, which is the complete opposite of what they’re doing. They believe in what they’re promoting and that’s why they suggest it.

      Are there actual scammers in the detox industry? Of course. Lots of them. But many people are not.

      I’m calling the actual “detox” part of the diet advertisement a scam for the reasons I explained in the article.

    • I realize that’s your intention, but the bulk of the article says explicitly that the plans are scams, not just the word “detox” used in their marketing—which I still would not characterize as a scam, as there is no evidence (that I’m aware of) disproving the concept, and at least some that supports its plausibility, as I listed above after doing a quick literature search. There can be no scam without a scammer, so it’s not possible to call products scams without implying their creators are scammers.

      I will check out the VoYS report you linked—it does sound interesting.

    • Hi Frazier,

      My argument is about the word “detox”. I’m copy-pasting from above: “Sometimes the suggested diet might even be a “good diet.” It’s just that even when the diet is a good diet, it’s not a “detox diet.”

      Because even good “detox” diets don’t have the abilities to change “toxicity.””

      If I wanted to accuse the creators as scammers, the article would have had a much different vibe. I would be calling the toxicity quiz a cheap marketing tactic into scaring people about “toxins” and making them buy the 10-day detox diet, either the book or the $400+ package Dr. Hyman is selling on his website.

      I could be talking about how just adding the word “detox” or “cleanse” on any diet can increase how much you can charge for it (as brilliantly demonstrated by this New Yorker cartoon https://www.facebook.com/NewYorkerCartoons/photos/a.237223479636271.67874.155328717825748/976507649041180/).

      I chose not to get into this, specifically because I didn’t want to call the creators scammers.

      Now more evidence about the unproven claims. Check out this pubmed review article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25522674

      And here: http://mq.edu.au/newsroom/2015/02/06/literature-review-finds-no-evidence-to-support-detox-diets-for-weight-loss-or-detoxification/#ixzz3ZfjVaa7A

      “Our biggest challenge was that commercial detox diets rarely
      identify the specific toxins they aim to remove, or the mechanisms by
      which they eliminate them, making it difficult to investigate their
      claims,” said Professor Kiat.

      “To the best of our knowledge, no rigorous clinical investigations of
      detox diets have been conducted. The handful of studies that have been
      published suffer from significant methodological limitations including
      small sample sizes, sampling bias, lack of control groups, reliance on
      self-report and qualitative rather than quantitative measurements.”

      About the report I linked to – I’m usually wary of phonecalls to hotline employees who are not qualified to answer some of the questions, yet still it’s impressive to witness the breadth of unproven claims made in the name of detox.

    • Again, from my post above, “reducing exposure to toxins […] in your diet and lifestyle […] inherently will reduce the toxic load in your body even if you still eliminate toxins at the same rate.” That alone makes it not a scam—plus breaking (very real) addictions to sugar, etc.

      “If I wanted to accuse the creators as scammers, […] I would be calling the toxicity quiz a cheap marketing tactic into scaring people about ‘toxins’ and making them buy the 10-day detox diet”
      Your first section header is, “Making you think you need them – and other detox diet gimmicks,” followed directly by, “Introducing: The Toxicity Quiz.” Can you see how it looks like that’s exactly what you’re doing?

      I still don’t understand how you think you can call a product a scam without inherently implying that its creator is a scammer.

      The links you provide are not “evidence” against the claims—they’re simply saying it has not been adequately studied (unproven ? fraudulent). The article from MU goes on to say, “However, considering the vast number of synthetic chemicals to which we
      are exposed, this is an interesting and worthwhile area of research.”

    • Frasier, the same article also says “Financial costs to consumers, unsubstantiated claims, and the potential
      health risks of detox products has lead researchers to state that until
      further systematic evaluations of commercial detox diets are undertaken,
      they should be discouraged by health professionals.”

      Detox diets say they “detox” when there’s no proof they can do that. If we were all to subscribe to this philosophy, we could claim anything. Heck, I might start selling alchemy kits tomorrow.

      My point about the scammers issue was that I didn’t write the article to accuse the people who promote them. If that was my goal I could easily devote more than 1/3d of the article describing the financial gains in the booming detox industry. I wrote the article to teach consumers like me to be wary about detox claims.

      The fact that some of the detox diets might be healthy doesn’t give people the right to advertise as “detox.” So if this is a weight loss diet, name it so. Or call it the “stop
      feeling like crap” diet. Maybe call it a fast. Don’t call it detox.

    • I agree with your point about unsubstantiated “detox” claims, but as Dr. Hyman substantiates his claims more than most, I don’t think his is a very effective example to showcase—and whether it forms the bulk of the article or not, you are still sending the message that he is a scammer. There is a big difference between claims with enough scientific support to at least consider plausible, and claims with no support at all like alchemy.

      There are some other important discrepancies in your article:

      “Turn the tide on” does not mean “cure” as you imply.

      The studies I posted above dispute your quoted comment from Rene Ficek.

      “Lose up to 10 pounds” does not claim it is all fat, and if losing some water weight in addition to fat helps motivate people to stick to a healthier way of eating past 10 days, I don’t see a problem with that. You must be a petite woman if you need only 1500-1800 calories per day to maintain weight. Plenty of people do consume 3500+ calories per day, so it’s not “absurd” to say that much of the claimed weight loss could be fat, especially if you were talking about a fasting type of plan instead of Dr. Hyman’s.

      About your “red flags” and whether they apply to Dr. Hyman’s plan:
      1. see below.
      2. The 10-day plan is Dr. Hyman’s, not Dr. Oz’s, and many people have indeed seen huge results in as little as 10 days. With shorter timeframes, I would be more doubtful.
      3. Again, “turn the tide on” doesn’t mean “avoid,” and as you know, a plan like Dr. Hyman’s involves a lot more than “ONE thing.” Even so, it’s not “magical thinking” at all for “ONE thing” to transform someone’s life. If you stop eating something you’re allergic to, that’s a transformation right there. I could go on and on with examples.
      4. I don’t see anything about the plan limiting calories, let alone to under 1000 per day.
      5. see below

      Here are some quotes from his book, The UltraMind Solution, Chapter 10: Key #5: Enhance Detoxification, that defy red flags 1 and 5:

      “Since the 1800s, more than eighty thousand new, largely untested chemicals have
      been introduced into the environment. Today, many are used as pesticides to ‘protect’ our food supply.
      And our exposure to poisonous substances doesn’t end there. Toxins are everywhere—from household cleaning products to plastics in our kitchenware,
      phthalates and bisphenol A in our plastic water bottles, and even in our tap water and air supply.
      […]
      We must also deal with all the by-products and toxic metabolic wastes created by our own bodies. These self-produced toxins make us sick if our kidneys or livers fail or work at less than optimal levels.
      […]
      Let’s look at what the research has to say about which toxins affect your health most
      dramatically. Remember, these are only examples. Every chemical currently in use that has not been tested for toxicity by public health agencies is a potential health threat. Keep in mind that only about 0.6 percent of all chemicals now in use have been tested.”

      He goes on to discuss mercury and lead toxicity, genetic factors that affect detoxification pathways, case studies, and larger studies linking toxic exposures to
      neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among numerous other health problems.

      A few of his cited points regarding the idea that our bodies always do a fine job of
      detoxifying without help:

      “In one study of 465 patients with chronic mercury toxicity, 32 percent had severe
      fatigue, 88 percent had memory loss, and almost 30 percent had depression. These symptoms and mercury poisoning were much more common in people with the apo E4 gene. Today about 20 percent of the population has this gene.
      […]
      In another study, people with an absent GST gene were likely to have much higher levels of mercury in their system.”
      Godfrey, M.E., D.P. Wojcik, and C.A. Krone. 2003. Apolipoprotein E genotyping as a
      potential biomarker for mercury neurotoxicity. J Alzheimer’s Dis 5 (3):189–95
      Gundacker, C., et al. 2007. Glutathione-S-transferase polymorphism, metallothionein expression, and mercury levels among students in Austria. Sci
      Total Environ 385 (1–3):37–47. Epub 2007 Aug 22.

      “One particularly worrisome problem is the gene called 2D6, which controls one of the main enzymes for detoxifying drugs such as SSRIs (Prozac and Zoloft) and many other common drugs and most pesticides.
      This gene is slow in 5 to 10 percent of Caucasians.”
      Elbaz, A., C. Dufouil and A. Alpérovich. 2007. Interaction between genes and
      environment in neurodegenerative diseases. C. R. Biol 330 (4):318–28. Epub 2007 Apr 9. Review.

    • I noticed that, but it doesn’t negate the overall message of the article—A “scam” implies intentional trickery/fraud, and calling someone’s product a scam IS calling them a scammer. I think it’s a bit harsh to group people who are helping make the world healthier while being loose with the definition of a word with people who willingly bankrupt others and don’t look back. (And again, there are many reasons to suggest the concept may have some merit—lack of evidence is not evidence against.)

    • Here are some supporting studies:

      Food and detoxification (via glutathione):

      Enhancement of Glutathione and ?-Glutamylcysteine Synthetase, the
      Rate Limiting Enzyme of Glutathione Synthesis, by Chemoprotective
      Plant-Derived Food and Beverage Components in the Human Hepatoma Cell Line HepG2
      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327914NC4501_9
      “Glutathione (GSH) is an important antioxidant and cofactor of
      detoxifying metabolism. Therefore, elevation of GSH as achieved by
      inducing ?-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS), the limiting enzyme of GSH synthesis, may contribute to chemoprevention against cancer. […] In the present experiment, we used the hepatoma cell line HepG2 to
      investigate the response of GCS and GSH to five plant-derived
      chemoprotectants contained in regularly consumed foodstuffs and
      beverages (kahweol/cafestol [K/C] [15.5-62.0 ?M], ?-angelicalactone
      [100-400 ?M], benzyl isothiocyanate [1.7-5.0 ?M], diallyl sulfide
      [175-700 ?M], and quercetin [10-50 ?M]). All treatments led to
      dose-dependent increases in both GCS activity and GSH concentration.”

      The ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial glutathione levels
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05460.x/full
      “The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet that is used as a therapy for intractable epilepsy. […] Together, the results demonstrate that the KD up-regulates GSH biosynthesis, enhances mitochondrial antioxidant status, and protects mtDNA from oxidant-induced damage.”

      The Influence of Dietary Whey Protein on Tissue Glutathione and the Diseases of Aging
      http://www.gshpolska.pl/files/Badania2/the_influence_of_dietary_whey_protein_on_tissue_glutathione_and_the_diseases_of_aging.pdf
      “The free radical theory of aging proposed by Harman [1] hypothesizes that the degenerative changes associated with aging might result from toxic effects of the free radicals produced during cellular metabolism. […] Glutathione […] is the source of the cysteine utilized in the biosynthesis of mercapturic acid conjugates of N-acetylcysteine, end products of a process which serves to detoxify a variety of harmful compounds and xenobiotics [3]. Glutathione binds transitional metals and is an important factor in their elimination [4].”
      “A whey protein [rich] diet appears to enhance the liver and heart glutathione concentration in aging mice and to increase longevity over a 6.3 month observation period.”

      Sleep and detoxification:

      Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/373
      “Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.”

      Exercise and detoxification:

      Response of hepatic antioxidant system to exercise training in aging female rat
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jez.a.149/abstract
      “The present findings imply that the reactive oxygen species that are
      generated due to aging process were detoxified by the exercise induced antioxidant system in the liver tissue.”

      Diet/supplement-based detoxification program:

      The Effects of a Short Program of Detoxification in Disease-Free Individuals
      http://www.modernhcp.com/AT-PDFS/0700_macintosh.pdf
      “In this pilot, patient-outcome–focused, noncontrolled clinical intervention, 25 disease-free participants were recruited. Pre- and postmeasures were taken using the Metabolic Screening Questionnaire (as a subjective assessment of well-being) and drug challenge tests to assess hepatic detoxification capacity.”
      “A simple 7-day detoxification program resulted in a significant reduction in participant symptomology. The tendency toward improvement in liver detoxification measures is consistent with the hypothesis that improved liver detoxification capacity may contribute to well-being.”
      “The detoxification program consisted of consuming a hypoallergenic diet (Table 1), 6 scoops of a medical food supplement (UltraClear), and at least 2 quarts of filtered water daily.”

    • I’ve not read any of Hymans’s books, but I have read some of his writing on autism causes and treatments; and he completely ignores our best scientific understanding of autism, even going so far as linking vaccines and gluten to autism à la Andrew Wakefield. He has no credibility as far as I’m concerned, and his blatant misuse of the term detox in order to market his wares makes me trust him even less. Sure he blends some very reasonable ideas into the mix, but to me, all that does is mainstream the questionable and even dangerous ideas. I’m all for thinking creatively about disease and health, but Hyman’s creativity would more efficaciously and ethically serve society by researching unproven health models, not selling them.

    • Hi Bob, thank you so much for commenting. I had no particular opinion of Dr. Hyman, even though the 10-detox diet promotion and the toxicity quiz did give a clue. I spent a couple of hours tonight researching him. The results were not good. Apparently he has a history of twisting science in order to promote what he wants to promote.

      Among many articles I went though, I would highlight this one as it does a thorough job at pin-pointing how Hyman gets to misinterpret science to confirm his already established beliefs. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/10/05/mark-hyman-deceives-about-science-resear/

      And as for vaccines, you’re right, there are no words. I doubt he’ll ever decide to put his mind into research though. I think when you’re so far into pseudoscience, there’s no turning back (and if there is such a chance then it’s close to zero).

    • Everyone is guilty of misinterpretation at some point or another—I don’t think this negates the body of positive work he has done.

    • I can’t comment on what you’ve read regarding autism without any links, but my other comments extensively address the “blatant misuse of the term detox.” Hyman does do research, and much of his work is not-for-profit, e.g. helping to organize a free program that has helped over 15,000 members of Saddleback Church in southern California lose on average over 16 lbs each (some over 100 lbs) and reduce/reverse various health problems.

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