Drinking juices to cleanse the body of toxins is very popular these days, but some doctors say this type of cleansing is not scientifically supported.
"People are interested in this so-called detoxification, but when I ask them what they are trying to get rid of, they aren’t really sure," Dr. James H. Grendell, the chief of the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, recently told The New York Times.
"I’ve yet to find someone who has specified a toxin they were hoping to be spared," Grendell added.
Of course, toxins do exist, but physicians are usually talking about some type of chemical that can cause harm if it ingested, or large amounts of medications, drugs or alcohol.
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"The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role," Grendell stated.
The human kidneys and the liver remove unwanted toxic substances, while the lymphatic system helps remove viruses and other illnesses.
"It’s hard to understand because there is no good scientific evidence that a juice cleanse, or any other food for that matter, is particularly relevant to removing toxins," Grendell told the newspaper.
Grendell did say that drinking healthy juices can provide vitamins, help people lose weight and change diet habits.
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Dr. Antoinette Saddler, a gastroenterologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, analyzed a 2014 article about juicing in the Huffington Post by Dr. Woodson Merrell, who wrote the book "The Detox Prescription."
Merrell's article stated:
Rest the stomach. For the tens of millions of people who are on acid-suppressing drugs — and for older folks who often don’t produce enough stomach acid — making the stomach work less to extract nutrients can be a huge benefit. Juices require less of the stomach’s digestive processing (churning, acid and pepsin). Remember to gently chew the juices to add oral enzymes to further ease digestion.
"Why does the stomach need resting?" Saddler questioned. "Who said that was beneficial?"
Merrell's blog posting added: "Allow maximum detoxification. To optimally support all phases of the body’s natural detox process, you need a very broad range of plant-supplied nutrients like anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories."
"By providing the body with super-nutrient dense foods[,] juicing allows the body to have more of the resources it needs to support the phases of detoxification, and even to begin to help remove the cumulative toxins stored in the body — 147 industrial chemicals on average in Americans’ bloodstreams with many present in newborns."
"What does that even mean?" Saddler stated.
Merrell told The New York Times that his bottom line is that Americans should eat more vegetables, and juicing is a way to do so.
"The whole thing about juice is it makes that easier to get," Merrell explained. "And it’s easily digestible and absorbable."
When asked about resting the stomach, Merrell asserted that well-chewed food is equal to juicing, but most folks are not chewing their food enough.
According to Merrell, a thick juice (containing all of a fruit and/or vegetable) provides nutrition that helps the liver do its job in ridding the body of toxins.
Merrell did admit that cleansing "has been so overly hyped. Lots of people making wild claims of things."
Colon cleanses are also popular and claim to rid the body of toxins by getting rid of stool fecal matter.
"I understand the intuitive appeal of using these colon cleanses — 'Get the toxins out, make your abdomen feel better,'" Saddler said. "The idea that stool is somehow poisonous and toxic is very misguided thinking."