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Releasing "Toxins" - Or, why do so many beauty/lifestyle bloggers buy into these myths?!



Look, I may be a practicing witch and overall into the woo~woo~ spiritual stuff (because aesthetic! and the placebo effect are legit mental and spiritual health boosters for me) but I'm also very science-minded and when it comes to health and what our bodies do, I'm even more FOR SCIENCE!

So when I came across a blog post recently (I'll be nice and leave the blog title out of this post) that recommended switching to a more natural deodorant as a way of letting our bodies sweat out toxins - I couldn't help it. My whole being just CRINGED in agony.

Why?

Because, as you may suspect, the online lifestyle and health communities are absolutely rife with pseudo-science health information and buzz words that exist to scare you into spending more money on supposedly "healthy" products that help you lose weight, have more energy and yes, "release toxins". Some of the people spouting this nonsense will even try to convince you they have a legit medical background, but honey, it's doesn't take much actual knowledge about the human body to go and get yourself a Nutritionist Certificate. (I checked.)

So let's break it down a little bit before we get into a few of these myths and why they're actually quite silly.

What are toxins?

Toxins, as the scientific community knows them, tend to be things like snake venom, varieties of poison and other plant or animal derived agents that can cause harm to the human body in low levels. Examples, aside from the rare snake bite, include things like lead, BPA, and mercury. Stuff we could potentially come into contact with while living our lives out in the real world.

But your favorite celebrity nutritionist with a Youtube channel is going to try and convince you that "toxins" come from the food we eat or the things we drink or what kind of lotion we're putting on our skin. And while it may be true that sometimes we consume and use products that are rather heavy-handed with the chemical compounds, not all chemicals are bad. And for the ones that are, our bodies are usually pretty good at taking care of that stuff on its own.

Myth #1: We can detox or purify our systems by drinking water.



False. Drinking water and staying hydrated is absolutely good for you, but if you're dropping almost everything else from your diet to perform a cleanse you're actually denying yourself the nutrients needed to help your body do its own form of detox.

If you've been sluggish lately or have digestive issues, try cutting out things like gluten, dairy, or refined sugars for a bit to see if the situation improves. But don't drop everything and go on a water binge at the first sign of trouble - you're not doing yourself any favors, capiche?

Same goes for green juices. I've got my eye on you.

Myth #2: Sweat releases toxins.



No. Just....no.

Dr. Don Smith, of UC Santa Cruz, explains that there is no tangible evidence of releasing toxins through sweat, as opposed to the body's natural elimination methods (ie. urination and defecation). So while that jazzercise session and zumba class will definitely get your heart rate climbing and your perspiration going, the BPA and mercury aren't going anywhere.

The body's primary organs for toxin flushing are your liver, kidneys and digestive system. Everything we eat and drink is filtered through these organs and most everything we put on our skin is carried through the blood to be dealt with there as well.

Quite literally, the only reason we sweat is to cool our body down.


Myth #3: Your body needs outside help with detoxing.



As I previously stated, your body has some fantastic organs that really do all the work for you in keeping your body free from toxins, and rarely needs outside intervention. Doing a juice cleanse might help you feel better for a week or so and you might be over-the-moon about the six pounds you lost while doing it, but you could be doing some serious damage to those organs that work so hard at detoxing while you're at it. The gut needs a certain amount (and kind!) of bacteria to break down what you consume and a three week juice cleanse is not providing that.


So there you have it. All this scaremongering really is for nothing. Take everything in moderation - food, drink, fun - and you'll be fine. But hey, don't take my word for it. Here are some scientifically-backed articles that pretty much regurgitate everything I just said, and then some.

https://www.self.com/story/myths-detoxing-totally-false

www.huffingtonpost.ca/dain-wallis/juice-cleanse_b_4763821.htm

https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/tips/health-lies-from-fitness-trainers/

www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/02/15/.../can-a-diet-clean-out-toxins-in-the-body

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