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Detoxes don't work... and 6 more health myths debunked

2 November 2020
2 minute read

Man drinking water

The internet is full of health fads and myths, many of which are ineffective, and some of which are downright dangerous! We take a look at some of the popular ones and offer saner alternatives for healthy living.

1. Essential oils help prevent disease
Distilled botanical compounds like lavender, mint, lemon, and tea tree might smell nice and boost your mood, but there is no evidence that they can cure or prevent disease.

2. You need a daily multivitamin
The best way to get all the nutrients you need is to eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy oils.

3. Sugar makes kids hyper
Studies have shown that sugar does not affect the behavior or cognitive performance of children, although some children may be more sensitive to sugar. Still, added sugar should be avoided, in favour of fresh fruits and vegetables.

4.Drink eight glasses of water a day
Our bodies are very efficient at letting us know if we are dehydrated. There’s no hard and fast rule as to how much, so drink water when you feel thirsty, and extra water before, during and after exercising, or when it’s very hot.

5.Anti-ageing products stop the effects of ageing
No matter how enticing the packaging and promises, no skin product can stop or reverse the effects of ageing. At most, the skin seems plumped and nourished due to the popular ingredients in them, such as lipids, vitamin A and E. The best anti-ageing strategy is to use a hat and sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun.

6. The detox myth
Detox is all the rage, and there are many products and activities that promise to get rid of “toxins” in your body. If the human body really accumulated lots of toxins, then we would feel ill most of the time. In fact, your liver, kidneys and other organs do a good job of getting rid of them. We look at some of the detox products and procedures doing the rounds and offer alternatives.

Detox smoothies/juices
A detox drink that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is healthy, but there's no scientific evidence that it will “cleanse” the body of toxins, something which your body actually does itself.

Instead: Focus on limiting your alcohol intake. Writing down how many drinks you have, helps you keep track of and hopefully slows down your drinking. Try to decrease the number of drinks and increase the number of alcohol-free days.

Colonic irrigation (enemas)
There is no proof that enemas rid your body of toxins any better than the body does naturally through the digestive system, liver and kidneys.

Instead:  If you have digestive issues such as constipation, a more effective and gentler way to get things moving again may be high fibre food, laxatives, probiotics, and exercise. See a doctor if you are concerned.

Detox skincare products
A number of skincare products claim they detox your skin, but in fact that is impossible, as toxins don’t leave your body through the pores of your skin.

Instead: Choose skincare products that help defend the skin, like a sunscreen containing antioxidants like vitamins E and C, which can help prevent damage caused by free radicals in the environment.

Your health is not going to be improved by a quick fix, so always be skeptical of marketers who promise miracles. The real way to stay well is through a healthy diet combined with exercise.

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