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Dump the detox

Been overdoing the feasting and tempted by the latest 'detox' diet or supplements? Well here's a good idea to help you recover and save you money at the same time.  First, drink a glass or two of water (tap is fine, cheaper and more sustainable than bottled); second, get a little exercise - maybe a walk in the park - and third, enjoy some nice home-cooked food.  There's a lot of nonsense talked about 'detoxing' and most people seem to forget that we are born with a built-in detox mechanism. It's called the liver. So my advice would be to ditch the detox diets and supplements and buy yourself something nice with the money you've saved.  Personally, I would recommend the new Neil Young and Steve Earle albums.  What about you? Happy New Year!


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This type of communication from a government agency really is not up to scratch!!! We want solid valuable information that large numbers of people can use effectively. Not this complete rubbish. Most people drink way too little water. Using a milk thistle extract to help your liver with excesses of alcohol, fat and medicines, is also supported by heaps of science. What type of exercise really helps the body clean itself. All readily available information. We need real information, real nutrition, real help for the community!

Posted by A sports nutritionist. on December 27, 2007 at 11:34 AM GMT #

You are right, we do have a built in detox system. Although with the extra pressures put on our sytstems over the festive season, it might just help to ease off on the toxins. So not a detox, maybe a less tox!

Posted by Ryan on December 27, 2007 at 12:34 PM GMT #

Thank you Andrew Wadge for your excellent advice, you are clearly a man who views life and health outside of the box. I'm so tired every year of the big surge in the media to lose weight and detox after christmas, sadly, these people who do follow the media trend either fall fail within the first month or those that have pushed too hard to lose weight soon find they don't know where to stop and end up in a tangle of anorexia and/or bulimia. If more people looked at their health via the bigger picture, choosing to eat healthier on the long term AND enjoy a little of what we fancy, take a walk in the park, or walk instead of getting the bus to the shops etc, and of course drink enough water to keep your brain and all other organs in the body functioning normally and before you know it, you will be feeling in better health without the dangerous and unpleasant pains of detoxing. Dora Darling.

Posted by Dora Darling on December 27, 2007 at 10:10 PM GMT #

I do agree, we do have an in-built detox system but the liver can only do so much these days. The stresses and strain of modern life and the modern convenient diet does not help really. Also, home-cooked is good but it has to be a balanced meal/diet (homecooked food is not always the best, it depends how it is cooked and what goes into it). I agree with the sports nutritionist that we need some good sound advise from FSA and not just an opinion. A healthy balanced diet and exercise should be the basis of a detox diet but there are certain foods and herbs that do support the liver and the kidneys in doing their job. Happy New year!

Posted by Meghna (Nutritional Therapist) on December 28, 2007 at 09:48 AM GMT #

"Most people drink way too little water. Using a milk thistle extract to help your liver with excesses of alcohol, fat and medicines, is also supported by heaps of science. What type of exercise really helps the body clean itself."I wonder if it might have been constructive had you chosen to include some references for your own assertions and implicit assumptions. Although there are many studies into the efficacy of silymarin in liver disease etc. that is not enough to impute a benefit for it for the healthy liver nor enough to suggest that it is prophylactic against the excesses that you name.I wonder how many people can genuinely claim that they have not heard the 5 or more a day message. Or the good news about the Mediterranean Diet. Michael Pollan provided an elegant summary with his advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.To the disinterested onlooker, it rather seems as if Wadge rather than you who is advocating "real nutrition" rather than supplements.

Posted by Mary P on December 28, 2007 at 06:42 PM GMT #

The report in this morning's Guardian provided further evidence to my wife and son that I am not alone in my taste in music. As for water, walking and home cooking - also couldn't agree more.

Posted by Damian Ainscough on December 29, 2007 at 10:41 AM GMT #

Nice to see a government scientist telling it how it is. These detox diets and suppliments are a laughable waste of money. Mind you, I cannot say much for Neil Young albums...Happy new year!

Posted by David Strange on December 29, 2007 at 02:24 PM GMT #

Why is that when we get good advice from an eminent scientist we still get Nutritional Therapists (whatever that is) and Sports Nutritionists (who should know better) pushing alternative therapies. These people are probably only interested in maintaining an income from their vested interests.

Posted by Bob on December 29, 2007 at 03:59 PM GMT #

Nutritionists telling us our livers need help "these days". Sounds like someone can see a large part of their job disappearing in a puff of common sense.All things in moderation: Boooze, food, exercise and advice. My slightly aging liver can manage that without any help from a nutritionist and there's another bill I wont have to pay in the new year. Thanks for the advice Mr. Wadge.

Posted by Rainbird on December 29, 2007 at 04:05 PM GMT #

Earlier in the year you asked for comments and honestly some of your advice is frightening - Neil Young and Steve Earle?Health and food advice I find useful and written in a friendly and approachable way.Keep up the good work and happy new year.

Posted by Mark on December 29, 2007 at 04:12 PM GMT #

The sports nutritionist says "We want solid valuable information that large numbers of people can use effectively. Not this complete rubbish."He or she advises milk thistle. So lets take a look at what the US complementary medicine people say about that (and remember they are biased in favour of quackery) "There have been some studies of milk thistle on liver disease in humans, but these have been small. Some promising data have been reported, but study results at this time are mixed. Although some studies conducted outside the United States support claims of oral milk thistle to improve liver function, there have been flaws in study design and reporting. To date, there is no conclusive evidence to prove its claimed uses. So it seems that 'sports nutritionist' is just another pill huckster. Hey ho. Of course the word 'detox' is an invention of salesmen. It hasn't even got any well-defined meaning. The purpose of the word seems to be entirely to increase the income of sports nutritionists and of Boots the Chemists.

Posted by David Colquhoun on December 29, 2007 at 04:59 PM GMT #

"Using a milk thistle extract to help your liver with excesses of alcohol, fat and medicines, is also supported by heaps of science."Milk thistle???? That sounds like something out of a medieval herbs book. Do you have references to any papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals that support this theory? What chemical in the thistle is supposed to "help" the liver, and what is its mode of action? Alcohol and prescribed drugs are toxins, but fat is not.

Posted by Don Cox on December 29, 2007 at 05:27 PM GMT #

Your advise about ""detox"" is state propaganda, defending the long discredited orthodox paradigm.

The main reason not to drink tap water is that it contains chlorine, a toxin. Chlorine kills digestive enzymes.

As anyone who is well informed about nutrition knows, eating enzyme rich, raw and fermented foods is one of the keys to good health, along with avoidance of all refined sugar and white flour. Anyone who is thus informed also knows that the ""official"" line from orthodox medicine continues to be that all enzymes are destroyed by stomach acid and therefore this is pointless.

Tell that to the millions of people who have transformed their health by taking up a ""high raw"" diet and making fresh raw vegetable juice. We KNOW the truth and we are sick of paying taxes to keep state parasites such as Wadge in highly paid positions where they can continue to pull the wool over our eyes.

To people who do not know what ""detox"" means, it is not a word which comes from orthodox medicine. If you want to know what it means, do internet searches for ""Hygienists"", ""Dr. Herbert Shelton"", ""Gerson"". Read ""Censured for Curing Cancer"" and ""The Living Proof"".

If you have a degenerative disease it is caused by white sugar, white flour, too much cooked food, overeating, alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, dangerous synthetic fats your body cannot process in processed and takeaway food and margarine, toxic additives and artificial sweetener which are brain toxins, vegetables and fruits sprayed with toxic insecticides and kept for months on end in stores with special gases, and not enough exercise. Do you have a degenerative disease? Obesity, heart problems, arthritis, diabetes etc? Did your GP tell you what I just told you? No. He/she offered you drugs which will just mask the symptoms and cause other symptoms later on. Orthodox medicine can only manage your long decline into invalidism caused by a cosy cartel of vested interests.

1.The food industry brainswashed you from the day you were born to eat rubbish.

2.Orthodox medicine is the marketing arm of drug companies who make billions from useless and dangerous drugs. That is Doctors refuse to acknowledge the importance of proper nutrition to health. Doctors don't even study nutrition.

3. A lazy, cowardly media will not investigate properly.

4. Political parties vie with each other over who will offer the most money to the ""NHS"" so they can get into power and stay there.

In such a system, mediocrities like Wadge get high powered, highly paid jobs to peddle a load of ""official"" twaddle.

Naff off Wadge

Chris Parkinson

Posted by Chris Parkinson on December 29, 2007 at 06:06 PM GMT #

How refreshing for a senior government scientist to make this point.The only thing a detox enriches are the bank balances of the companies who trade these 'placebo' products on the backs of peoples misgiven fears and aspirations.Bravo Dr Wadge.

Posted by Richard on December 29, 2007 at 06:28 PM GMT #

Dr Wadge, I think you are wonderful. Please run for PM. You would have my vote all the way.

Posted by Alexandra Rees on December 29, 2007 at 06:54 PM GMT #

Thank you for calling the detox industry out on its nonsense. Every time someone rants on at me about detoxing I end up turning purple with rage at the complete idiocy and faddishness of it all. I suppose exercising and eating well don't have the same glamourous quick-fix as a "detox" regime.

Posted by FJ on December 29, 2007 at 07:31 PM GMT #

Well done. It's good to see some plain simple advice to counteract all the gung-ho unscientific health fads (such as detox) thrust on the public by the media and so-called nutritional "experts".

Posted by Kess on December 29, 2007 at 08:56 PM GMT #

Detox diets CAN work miracles.Watch this video, where people get over DIABETES in a couple of weeks, with just a change in diet!

Posted by Jack on December 29, 2007 at 09:12 PM GMT #

Thank heavens for someone willing to stand up to the twaddle from the quack nutritionist brigade who're only really here to push their silly supplements (nice glass of evidence-free milk thistle, anyone?). Although I'm really not too sure about your taste in music.

Posted by Hilary on December 29, 2007 at 09:42 PM GMT #

At last common sense prevails!! the most intelligent piece of information given by the government for decades !How come we all know how we managed to put on the weight/ or how we overdosed on toxins but not many of us think that reversing the system could possibly work........!!

Posted by Anonymous on December 29, 2007 at 09:45 PM GMT #

A sports nutritionist says: "Using a milk thistle extract to help your liver with excesses of alcohol, fat and medicines, is also supported by heaps of science".One one hand we have water coupled with exercise, on the other hand "milk thistle extract"... yet you have the audacity to assert that "we each have a liver", "drink water" and "take exercise" are "opinion not science". Most people drink too little water" - Oh really? Care to provide references from any medical journals? Seen many people suffering from the classical symptoms of dehydration on your street lately? Good grief!! How about YOU provide scientific references to back up your claims if you're a nutritionalist?

Posted by PhD Biochemist on December 29, 2007 at 10:13 PM GMT #

Dear "Sports Nutritionist", An opinion from yourself, with nothing to back up your comments either. Hypocritical? However, I would argue that as this is a blog, and not an official 'scientific result' outlet, that Mr Wadge is entirely entitled to post opinions. These opinions will be backed up with his considerable knowledge and experience in his field, even if data isn't provided to make it readily supported. I think I know who's opinion I'd rather pay attention to. Thank you Mr Wadge, and a Happy New Year to you.

Posted by AdamF on December 29, 2007 at 11:20 PM GMT #

I agree with your opinion on detox diets. I am a student at westminster university studing Human Nutrition and want to become a nutritionist after graduating. I believe these diets are a complete waste of time and money. If people want to 'detox', there are foods high in antioxidants which can be eaten along with a healthy balance diet. Foods such as broccoli, pomegranates, tomatoes and grapes. When on these detox diets, many people lose alot of vital nutrients therefore leaving people feeling tired and lethergic. If people want to get back into shape and feel healthy, a balanced diet and a sufficient amount of exercise do play an important role. A balanced diet consisting of at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, containing unrefined carbohydrates, pulses, low fat dairy and lean protein all in the correct portions should be a great way to detox and feel at your very best. Oh and not forgetting to keep hydrated throughout the day with water and a couple of cups of green tea!

Posted by Claire Hendy on December 30, 2007 at 02:02 AM GMT #

Yes, the liver is most important processor of toxins in the body, and hence liver disease is a serious matter. A low grade condition such as "fatty liver" can lead to more serious conditions, so keeping healthy and keeping a check on diet (especially alcohol) is essential.

Posted by Gordon Joly on December 30, 2007 at 11:47 AM GMT #

At last! Some simple, practical views. Is this a sign of good old-fashioned common sense returning? Well done for saying it - we seem to be a society of sheep, needing to be given a prescribed regime to follow, instead of using our own heads, and actually listening to what our bodies are telling us. Follow your advice and we'll feel great.

Posted by Denise on December 30, 2007 at 04:22 PM GMT #

As far as I can recall my liver is the same "these days" as it was in "those days". Instead of feeding off the worried well by advocating expensive and largely unproven herbs and potions we should stop "toxing" ourselves quite so much with delicious poisons and toxins. A balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, a little excercise a little treat now and then is boring, doesn't make headlines and is considerably cheaper than expensive detox hocus pocus. But it works.

Posted by Sensible Susan on December 30, 2007 at 04:45 PM GMT #

Nutritional Therapists of course support detox diets! How many support or sell supplements or purchasing of herbal remendies? I would rather not hear from those that have such a commerical interest!So I welcome the fact that leading and proper nutritionists are coming out and speaking up regarding our true nutritional status and physiology. Something that most nutritional therapists are generally very weak on!Ofcourse the liver can detox even in this modern age! To strike fear suggesting otherwise is simply trying to get more people to part with their monies unnecessary. And based on what evidence? There is no evidence to suggest that our livers are less likely to cope this Xmas compared to Xmas in 1750.

Posted by Anonymous on December 31, 2007 at 11:51 AM GMT #

Although Andrew Wadge clearly has a good taste in music, I am rather surprised to hear that he has chosen to can the entire concept of detox supplements when there is good evidence that the both Phase I and Phase II detoxification mechanisms are reliant on nutrients. Any deficiencies in these nutrients will impact on the effectiveness of the body's detoxification mechanisms and the FSA's own studies of consumer dietary intake patterns (e.g. NDNS survey, 2003) show that significant numbers of consumers are deficient in a range of important nutrients which facilitate detoxification, including magnesium, zinc and selenium. Many detox supplements aim to support the body's innate detoxification mechanisms, such as the mixed function oxidase system and glutathione conjugation. Why Andrew Wadge elected to attack detox products generally, rather than offering a more insightful and reflective view of the state-of-the-art of the science on detoxification, which could help consumers in making choices over the diverse range of products on the market, is anybody's guess.

Posted by Dr Robert Verkerk on December 31, 2007 at 12:00 PM GMT #

So many regulators are so cautious in how they communicate with consumers and I really congratulate you in using blogging as a consumer-friendly device.Equally it is clever to use the seasonal 'hook' to give advice on healthy living. It was picked up by the Press Association and the "Guardian".

Posted by Roger Darlington on December 31, 2007 at 04:26 PM GMT #

Wishing you and yours a happy healthy 2008 thanks for all your advice and comments

Posted by AnonymousValerie on December 31, 2007 at 05:18 PM GMT #

If the liver was so brilliant at detoxifying we wouldn't have over 4,000 deaths due to liver failure each year (more than all road traffic accidents). Nor would we have over 350,000 people admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions each year. That's a rise of 27% in five years. According to Professor Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, which compiled the information on alcohol-related admissions from the NHS's Hospital Episodes Survey "A lot of attention is paid towards binge drinking in younger people. But large numbers of people of all ages are simply drinking too much. "Instead of dismissing 'detox' diets wouldn't it be more constructive for the FSA to instead actively a) discourage excessive drinking b) encourage liver function screening (now available as a home-test kit - see and c) promote diets that actively support liver function. The recent finding that fatty liver disease can be induced by high carbohydrate diets might be cause for the FSA to review their recommendation for people to eat more carbs. The recent FSA's 'Eat Well Plate ' was notably absent in encouraging wholefoods, unrefined foods, low GI/GL foods, all of which are consistent with reducing obesity, and supporting liver function.Patrick Holford - nutritional therapist and co-author of 9 Day Liver Detox Diet

Posted by Patrick Holford on December 31, 2007 at 06:53 PM GMT #

The "sports scientist" (don't you just love the "degrees" given out now?) is really missing the point. The FSA is spot-on with this advice. We do no extra good with "milk-thistle extract" or anything else that the pseudoscientists peddle. Yes, cosmopolitan and your mates in the pub say it is good, but it is about as sensible for health as bathing in moonbeams or sleeping facing the pyramids.

Posted by Food Scientist on December 31, 2007 at 08:49 PM GMT #

Judging from the number of comments, this blog has received a lot more attention than usual. I too had never visited before today but now I have it bookmarked for regular reading. Nice one.

Posted by Chris Pitcher on January 02, 2008 at 01:41 PM GMT #

I happen to agree with Mr Wadge that detoxing at this time of year is not advisable, not in the fact that you don't need help detoxing, but in fact it is simply the wrong time to detox. From a natural nutrition point of view, spring time (which makes common sense when you think about it) is the best time for an internal cleanse. At this time of midwinter,(when hibernation is the natural instinct) our bodies require warming foods not cold salads (soups, stews, and plenty of vegetables, raw is ok for digestive enzyme requirements, but balance with cooked at this time of year). Of course water, and exercise are essential to maintaining good health. The liver does manage to detox very efficiently when one has maintained excellent health, but does need support in instances of stress, and long term poor food choices (i.e refined, processed and high sugar foods). Happy new year, and good health to you all.

Posted by Lorraine (Nutritional Therapist) on January 04, 2008 at 12:10 AM GMT #

If commenters such as Patrick Holford (31 Dec, 18:53) are going to advise the use of commercial liver tests alongside their own self-styled detox programmes, it might be a gracious act to be forthcoming with appropriate considerations:
  • if you have any health concerns you should consult your GP who can order a very comprehensive panel of liver function tests (and save yourself £150 in the bargain);
  • the test that is recommended is severely limited in its usefulness, measuring 2 rather than the typical 6/7 items;
  • as ever, it is appropriate for the results of any test to be interpreted alongside a thorough clinical history - and for this interpretation to be carried out by an appropriately qualified and experienced clinician.
As a matter of interest, I've searched through PubMed looking for studies that demonstrate the efficacy of detox programmes for people without health problems or addictions, I don't seem to have found any. Is this a lapse in the information finding engine or reflective of the fact that there are no such reports? In another of his works, Patrick Holford advises readers to quiz their doctors about the number needed to treat (NNT) etc. of any recommended therapy/treatment, I have to assume that the recommended programme has undergone sufficient evaluation to yield an NNT. And, further, that the recommended test has clearly defined specificity and sensitivity.

Posted by Mary P on January 04, 2008 at 09:05 AM GMT #

How interesting that those who support the concept of detox in their responses to this comment are the very people who financially profit from promotion of this mythical concept. In the case of nutrition, surely it's now time for the FSA, the DH, the Dfes and the NHS to form a united front in promoting a sound 'national diet', provide definitive advice on supplements (nutritional, herbal or homeopathic), and regulate the bloated health food industry to ensure that the excellent Advertising Standards Authority is not the sole moderator of matters nutritional in the UK.Mr Browns advice to 'deal with health issues yourself'- is generating more, not less work for dietitians and other HPC therapists - putting right the bizarre and health-compromising practices of the enthusiastic healthcare amateur. The public should be strongly advised to avoid the advice of any 'therapist' who claims 'detox' as a health concept, and those who -quite accurately - state that they 'practice' nutrition without RD/ RNutr/ RPHNutr status. They are practicing - on you.

Posted by Catherine Collins RD on January 04, 2008 at 04:41 PM GMT #

Brilliant solution to detox with water, but what about the pesticide residues in our food? Will water remove these from our systems? The recent problem with illegal pesticides which are above the UK limits which has led to some organic certification bodies withdrawing the organic status for goji berries from some of the farms in China, must be a serious concern to you.

Posted by Fiona on January 05, 2008 at 03:57 PM GMT #

Dear AndrewThe US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has recently sponsored some work in this area. You may find this free access article of interest: Happy New Year

Posted by Susan McGinty on January 07, 2008 at 03:58 PM GMT #

Come on guys, this bloke works for the government!Yeah the nations livers are really working on top form arent they. Check the data on increased liver disease!Get a juicer and juice up some green veg on a daily basis and watch your skin glow and your energy levels sour. Both indicate that your liver function has improved.Hang on Andrew, how can there be improvement when it is already working perfectly.....DOH

Posted by Andrew Fadge on January 08, 2008 at 07:27 PM GMT #

Detox has become a buzz word of late but it has its roots in ancient practices. In the Essene Gospel of Peace, Jesus tells people to clear out their stinking behinds with a gourd and its stalk! These days we may do MSM and diluted H2O2 enemas in hte comfort of our own bathrooms, reading Russell Brand's latest book, or is that just me?!Modern medicine is just that -- modern. It's not very effective (IE it suppresses symptoms, and rarely cures diseases) and it's only so common because of fear, money and indoctrination. The pharmaceutical industry is the biggest in the world, and really doesn't want ""the masses"" to take control of its health. They'll ban safe herbs such as kava kava and stevia (and many more) to cause more people to take their (expensive) drugs. So shouting down the odd therapist on this board is not realistic in the grand scheme of who's actually making money from the public's health.

We can all argue until the cows come home (or go to the over intensive and extremely cruel and unnecessary slaughterhouse) but one thing we can't argue about is the evidence we all notice within our own bodies.I know that the last 8 years of my life would have been horrible if I hadn't detoxed my world. I was sick, overweight, puffy, depressed and angry. Detoxing *cured* me. I'm now fully healthy and happy and no longer overweight. If I went back to eating *normal* SUKD (Standard UK Diet), I'd go back to feeling sick. This is why I say that detox is for life, not just for New Year.

Along my journey I've helped millions of people detox their lives (detoxing isn't restricted to food), and become happy humans. When I hear their stories, I always cry with joy. Their stories all have the same ending -- they become healthy, happy people. That's all they ever wanted, yet modern food and drugs prevented this. This is my experience, this is their experience. Milk thistle may or may not have been involved during the course of their detox ;-)What are our goals as humans? If it's to fight, then let's carry on eating food raised with fear, NPK and pesticides. If it's to live with love in our hearts, ecstatically serving the planet, then we need to be clean, free from medicated fear and open to the opportunities that lie before us.We are so lucky in the UK. We have an abundance of natural food, that is free for the taking. Let's grow fruit trees, forrage for wild food, and get back to eating real food.

Manufactured food isn't recognisable by the body and will not make an ecstatic being of any of us. Real food will detox us naturally and we'll rejuvenate, de-age, become our right weight and become divinely aligned with our true destinies. In my humble experience...This will sound like rubbish to some, and that's fine. Yet to others, there'll be nods of agreement. We all have our own paths.If dietician Catherine Collins really believes she's healthy (when she looks like she's overweight and in pain to me), then she must keep telling the nation to drink tea and blackcurrant cordial. However, if she, and other skeptics of detox think they could be healthier than they are now, if they can just about remember how bouncy, happy and energetic they were as a child, then it'd be wonderful if they gave detoxing a go. I've heard there are a few books on the subject, but I wouldn't recommend mine, they're far too hardcore for the tentative amongst us.

I'm fully ecstatic that you brought up this subject, Dr Wadge. Sending you all love, especially Patrick Holford because it was your Optimum Nutrition Bible that saved my life all those years ago. I'm forever grateful to you.

Posted by Shazzie on January 08, 2008 at 07:48 PM GMT #

that catherine collins finds us interesting, we are very very interesting us detoxers. instead of getting involved in pointless and boring arguments i suggest people look at pictures and read about the lifestyles of those who advocate healthy living, and compare them to those who advocate sticking with a standard national diet which is so clearly and obviously failing the nation. see who looks more beautiful, see who looks more fulfilled, see who looks like they are having more fun, and decide for yourselves who you would like to emulate. watch health food junkies on channel 4 fri 11th jan 7.30.

Posted by kate magic on January 10, 2008 at 02:51 AM GMT #

Dear Dr Wadge, I too get fed up at the constant use of the term det-tox often without any clarity as to whether there are toxins involved. But can't you see 'detox' is as much a label, and even a kind of metaphor for health, rather than a literal account of liver function? Probably some detox products and services are unhelpful nonsense. I'll be willing to bet many are helpful nonsense - in other words strategies that work, but not for the reason put forward. And others are ways of aiding the vital work of ridding the metabolism of harmful substances. I've had a keen and practical interest in how food affects health from before medical school, which I've continued through the last 20 years of training and work as a GP. Rather than trusting conventional wisdom, in a profession that has devoted laughably little attention to nutrition, I'm more interested in what brings about helpful change for individuals. So for instance, instead of encouraging my patients in the illogical and discredited myth that you can't have too much carbohydrate, I instead enable diabetic and hypertriglyceridaemic patients to reduce their blood sugars, loose weight and improve their lipid profiles through eating low GI diets. I help patients with IBS, skin problems and other grumbling complaints to rid themselves of symptoms by missing out supposedly vital foodstuffs like wheat and milk (ensuring they are still getting the nutrients they need from other sources). Much of this is advised by "detox" diets too.For example a friend, a diabetic GP, is currently doing a popular "de-tox' diet. Like me he doesn't think for a minute that all the benefits are due to detoxification: yet the benefits remain: more energy, better concentration, lower blood glucose readings. He says - and I'm sure he's right - "If I kept this up I'd add 5 years to my life'. Many may find the contributions to this discussion very polarised, but consider these points. Has any actually healthy diet ever not contained a high quantity of fresh whole plant food? (No!) Is there any upper limit to the amount of these it is safe to eat (No). Does this apply to any other group of foods? (No). How many of the diets that people find helpful reduce or omit wheat, sugar, alcohol and dairy products? (many). What is the one group of foods that is,by and large, unsubsidised and characterised by very low marketing, processing, refining and so called 'added value'. (Fresh whole plant foods.) Lets not pretend that supplements and 'detox' are the only profit locus in the world of diet!!! Yet many of my patients think a balanced diet is something from every aisle of Tescos, and can't prepare a nutritious meal to save their lives (literally).

Posted by Dr Andrew Morrice on January 10, 2008 at 10:01 PM GMT #

Yes, we do have an inbuild detox system, but since it get stressed of some of todays food it is a good idea to cleanse the body. My aunt recently died in a liverdesease. A friend of mine makes her allergy okey to live with, just getting one detox a year, and don't have to use pills as before. And she drinks a lot of tap-water all year around.To call nutritionists fake just because they work with health food is very suspicious to me. Here in Sweden the regular ones don't know as much as the healthfood-nutrionists, even my doctor recommends the h.f-nutr.

Posted by AnnaMaria on January 11, 2008 at 10:03 AM GMT #

I am always confused by the FSA line on food and nutrition. I understand the desire to throw cold water on fads and whims that may whip the nation up into silliness (some chance). But to fail to see the bigger picture, and to counter sensible advice about eating more organic (and raw too, Shazzie I agree) veg and fruit, less refined foods, drink (filtered, please) water, and eat a mainly plant based diet. This is what de-tox for life is really about - not a 1 week health supplement frenzy.Carry on with high sugar, processed, salty, fizzy dairy, meat based diet and you simply will not feel as good. I have no money to make out of this. Try it for yourself.FSA - it's fair enough to want to stop charlatan promoters of fad-products, but why not counter it with some real advice - that there are elements of a detox diet that can be brought into your daily lifestyle that will make you feel better and be healthier. You always throw the baby out with the bath water. The continued anti-organic, anti-progressive stance is a little embarassing. Come on Mr Wadge. Natural, chemical free, home/locally grown foods are generally nicer to eat, more nutritious (test a carrot from my garden any day you like)and do less harm to the environment (chemicals and energy used in processing, packaging, distribution etc). Why are you so mean??!! Why imply people can pretty much carry on doing as they are doing? We need to radically change the way we eat and think about food, not merely take a walk in the ruddy park! Time for more positive steps to aid the nation's health - and to say it with more conviction - a walk in the park and a home-cooked meal (what, of salt and nitrate laden sausages say, maybe with chips? can you be more precise?) is barely scratching the surface. To give the impression that there is no value in the concept of de-tox or better still, minimsing intake of toxins in the first place, because your poor old liver will sort it out, is just irresponsible for a man of your status.

Posted by Siobhán on January 11, 2008 at 12:47 PM GMT #

Hi all, Many people are saying how the people posting here in response to the rather narrow-minded comment posted above all have vested commercial interest in detoxing as an 'industry'. Well i don't!! I won no company, sell nothing! However, since doing a few hours of researching i was able to make little changes to my toxic environment and consumption which has lead to greater energy levels, concentration, a formidable body and a vibrant brain!! There are far too many toxins in this world - that is a fact. Yes, the liver is designed as our 'filter'. But between all the snacks and meals and general waking consumption of the average individual when does the liver have the time and energy to filter the toxins? Digestion does in fact take alot of energy for the body. By eating sensibly, with sensible portions and coupling that with plenty of liquids is the very first step to improving health. People like Shazzie have helped thousands of people to detox - and understand and fully experience the benefits. Yes, she now makes her living from this and good for her! So she should! She is a living example of the amazing change of health a person can experience by comsuming non-toxic foods. Not only does she sell products but she also gives out alot of information and links completely free - from which i have benefited greatly. I donot purchase many of her products, possibly one order in two years yet her focus is not on her products but rather alerting people to a more positive view on health and how to achieve it. Ultimately she helps people take responsibility for their own health instead of expecting the government services to help us (god forbid!!) She is earning her money by helping people - i believe that is a high-ranking way to survive the monthly bills! So enough about why people are posting on this thread...they're not all greedy demons!I am glad i disovered the ways to help myself gain better health - and these stongly includes detox. My family and friends also have seen the benefit due to my increased knowledge - don't knock it until you try it!!Bex.

Posted by bex on January 11, 2008 at 01:00 PM GMT #

A lot of the comments here that claim detox is rubbish are actually making recommendations that would aid detox. People are misunderstanding each other and a lot of you actually agree with each other. How can we discuss soemthing like detox without defining it first? When it comes to detox, my advice is: don't knock it until you have tried it. I have, and I know it works.When it comes to people having economic interests in the healthfood industry - do you not think that the FSA have vested interests in the pharmaceutical industry? Of course the FSA claims detox is rubbish - they would lose A LOT of money (and jobs) if people realised they could cure most ailments simply with diet and lifestyle. When it comes to supplements - you can detox perfectly fine without them! Please don't get your concepts mixed up here! Taking supplements will help you detox deeper, though. When it comes to asking for scientific evidence - who would you rather trust? Health studies paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, the dairy industry, the meat industry (the list goes on), or a person who is willing to stand up and say, yes, I did this, it cured me of all my health complaints and I would be happy to show you how to do the same. By the way, Mr Wadge - my boyfriend wants to thank you for telling people that detox is nonsense. He says that if everyone detoxed and turned their diets and lifestyles around, they would all look as glowingly healthy as he does now. If people take your advice of eating home-cooked food and drinking tap water, you're ensuring that the rest of us really stand out in a crowd. So you can see why he would want to keep the benefits of detox a secret! You can't help people who don't want to help themselves, but you can lead by example, and we already get people coming up to us and asking what we are doing that makes us so healthy. A lot of our friends and family are changing their lives around as I write this. Tap water and cooked foods are most definitely NOT involved in this! (Neither is milk thistle though, but I'm not knocking it - I haven't tried it yet!)

Posted by Neens on January 11, 2008 at 01:25 PM GMT #

I'm quite pleased that several of the pro-detox guys are so insistent that modern medicine is merely suppressing symptoms, not curing disease. I suppose the fact that our life expectancy and quality of life has improved so much is a coincidence? Perhaps they may like to voice their opinion whilst at their GP, then they can be referred to a Health Food Shop rather than a consultant, it would certainly improve waiting lists. I fully except that the pharmaceutical industry has a very sinister side and isnt as ethically sound as it should be but suggesting they 'ban' natural remedies is rather short sighted. A great deal of our modern drugs contain chemicals which were first discovered in plants. For example Aspirin from willow trees, the fact that you dont get prescribed a bag of willow leaves to chew is because that would be rather expensive. Artificially produced chemicals are hugely cheaper to produce.

Posted by Jacob on January 11, 2008 at 02:26 PM GMT #

I think Mr Wadge would have been better titling his lierature 'dump the yearly fad detox diet' The problem with poeple is they define people into categories from what they say ie. eat mostly raw veg can be assumed to be said by a hippie vegetarian. Unfortunately because of these assumptions it is difficult to give advice to the population as a whole, as those in most need of altering diet and lifestyle would say poppycock to the vegetarian but Mr Wadge is putting it plain and simply, so if you have the knowledge of nutrition and public health quit whinging on and detering those that would benefit from simple advice at first from realising it. Rome was not built in a day!

Posted by Anonymous on January 12, 2008 at 12:01 PM GMT #

I haven't seen my GP in over 3 years - so you're right, detoxing seriously does cut down the waiting lists.

Posted by Neens on January 12, 2008 at 12:25 PM GMT #

Government propaganda...... Of course the FSA would say this.

Posted by Hannah on January 12, 2008 at 09:40 PM GMT #

Why not study the longest lived people and cultures? These case studies are proof in themselves that this pure food mentality is the right course of action.Check out the work by Dr.David Jubb, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Shazzie, and David Wolfe for some truly excellent information.

Posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2008 at 12:44 AM GMT #

I have followed the debate on detox with interest and I am really grateful to everyone for their contributions. What strikes me is that there is a lot of common ground - but also some fundamental points on which we disagree.What we all share is an interest in helping people choose healthy diets. But then we get into a debate about 'what works' and also more philosophical issues about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Personally, I am committed to living what I consider to be a healthy lifestyle of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, taking exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and, of course, not smoking. And I know that there is good scientific evidence to support my choice (see, for example, my comment on the EPIC study in Norfolk recently). I also enjoy local/home grown food and cooking, because I think it tastes better and I love food - but that's a personal choice, not based on any science (and for that matter, since when did we need science to tell us what tastes good - or indeed what should be our taste in music!).But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Without science we are left with anecdote about what works and what doesn't and then who do we trust? My mate? Big food corporations? Nutritional therapists? Surely the burden of proof lies with the producers, not with consumers, to demonstrate efficacy and safety? So if a food manufacturer wants to tell me that their expensive product is good for the heart, then I would want to know that there is scientific evidence to support this. Equally, before I dig into my pocket for a particular herbal extract that I'm told will make my liver healthier, I would want to know how the efficacy and safety of the product had been tested. So in these postmodern times, I fully respect the plurality of approaches to living a healthy life, but I will continue to try to do my job of analysing and communicating the science of food safety and healthy eating. In the meantime, thanks again for all your comments and I hope you're all enjoying the benefits of a healthy balanced diet.

Posted by on January 14, 2008 at 03:34 PM GMT #

I'm sure that everybody who runs detoxing workshops or has published a book on the topic has a form of disclaimer that absolves them from any responsibility for the way in which their advice is implemented.Interesting case report: When juicing can harm and even be life-threatening.
  • [H]is liver is killing him. He has cirrhosis. His belly fills with gallons of fluid which must be drained off every few weeks. Aside from his belly, he is dreadfully thin. He has suffered attacks of severe bleeding. If he doesn't get a new liver, we probably can't keep him going too much longer. So, we have him on a medical regimen to keep toxins from accumulating and making him delirious, and to help prevent recurrent bleeding. He is on medications and fluid restrictions to help slow the accumulation of fluid in his abdomen. With the help of his family, he is doing everything he can to survive long enough for a new liver.But twice in one week he returned to the hospital feeling week, more swollen, and with a dangerously low sodium level. We suspected that perhaps he had a drinking problem' but not booze. This time, the culprit was water. He said he didn't really drink much water...He's thirsty, miserable, scared. He buys a book by a smiling guy that seems to offer harmless advice' it's just juice, what could it hurt? Between the elevated potassium and depressed sodium levels, it almost killed him.
Nobody doubts that drinking juices can have affect the body profoundly, but it really isn't appropriate for all.The doctor involved observes:
  • [Alternative health practitioners] often state that 'oxidative damage' is the key to all disease, and 'anti-oxidants' the cure. Wouldn't that be nice. Even if it were true, it would do nothing for cirrhosis 'there's no turning back. But the average guy can't be expected to know this. That's why we have doctors.
I would also argue that it is unreasonable to expect all readers to understand the potential of these juices to disrupt electrolyte balance in potentially harmful ways for some sub-groups.

Posted by Mary P on January 17, 2008 at 01:19 PM GMT #

Pharmaceutical drugs and advice kill people every day, and the food they eat incapacitates them so much they start to take these drugs. Citing one case where a seriously ill (dying) man started drinking juice is irrelevant to the subject of this blog, and you will only confuse lay people. Perhaps that is your motive?

Posted by Anonymous on January 17, 2008 at 08:24 PM GMT #

I woke up when the sun came in through my windows and the birds were singing... this (and my body) is my natural alarm clock. After my eyes gracefully opened, I practiced an hour of yoga/meditation in the morning sunlight leaving my body feeling limitless in sync with how I know our experience truly is. While walking to the kitchen I opened my front door to take some deep breaths of the morning air. I then made a nori roll filled with half of an avocado, some cucumber and green onion "matchsticks", a lot olives, clover sprouts, and tomatoes. I took this delicious start to my day and some spring water on my porch for breaking the fast called "sleep!" I am a slave to nothing, especially my food!You are what you eat, some foods are more alive than others. Stick to them and see what happens! If you don't, I'll still be where I am doing so and enjoying it even if you do or not. It's your choice!

Posted by Anonymous on March 17, 2008 at 12:23 PM GMT #

Detoxing can seriously harm the economy! Imagine if all people suddenly started detoxing and living on non-toxic foods... A catastrophe! (Btw, does anyone know since when it is that foods that are not poisoned in some way have to be labeled as "organic"?I haven't seen a GP in 30 years, and I do not plan to ever do. But, of course everyone is free to stick with their belief. If it makes you happy...

Posted by Anonymous on November 06, 2008 at 06:47 AM GMT #

Australia states one can send anything to England

and they will eat it!.

Posted by peter hanlon on December 17, 2009 at 07:54 PM GMT #

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