Detox and Toxins in Your Body

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Many people have heard about detox for means of health and how to cleanse your body but not many people realize just how important this is and what exactly it means. Semantically, everything is a toxin as too much or too little of almost any necessary nutrient has a “toxic” or potentially fatal effect. There are however certain substances that in very small doses can observably alter a person. 

The words are as familiar as they are misunderstood. People “cleanse” their bodies by going on a “detox diet” to “purify” their systems. But is there actual science behind the buzzwords? Dr. Don Smith, a professor at UC Santa Cruz whose research focuses on how organisms respond to toxins, says the premise of popular health messages may actually be sound.

“To the extent that eating well is facilitating the reduction of uptake of the toxins, that’s well known,” Smith told Medical Daily. People whose diets lack iron or calcium, for example, face a greater risk for lead toxicity if they live in an area where lead exposure is common.

In this sense, Smith defines toxins more in line with biology’s traditional understanding: Toxins are harmful agents found in the environment. The list contains hundreds of names – 689 to be exact – most popular among them being the mercury we find in fish, the azodicarbonamide we find in yoga mats and (until recently) Subway sandwich bread, and bisphenol A, or BPA, the highly controversial compound found in consumer plastics. We remove them from our bodies depending on things like iron levels and calcium levels, and, unlike the optimistic personal trainer’s advice, beads of sweat aren’t their ticket out – rather, the urine and feces we expel each day.

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