If you've over-indulged of late, then the idea of detox may well appeal – flushing out the Christmas and New Year excesses, and the beginning of the year afresh. There are plenty of products that offer help, from detox massages and smoothies to herbal teas and starvation diets. You can find promises of glowing skin, weight loss and healthier you that can help you shrug off the sluggishness of mid-winter. Rinsing your system of impurities sounds like a good way to start the year, but is there any evidence that it works?
The word detox is used in two very different ways. The first referral to the medical detoxification programs that help people with a serious alcohol or drug problems to get clean.
The other is the child of home detox marketed to us with promises to rid our bodies of "toxins". Modern life does, of course, bring in lots of synthetic chemicals and natural substances, some of which can be toxic, but how much evidence is there a detox wants to eliminate them from our bodies?
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It's true that the day you cut out alcohol and embark on a healthier diet, toxins will leave your body. But this happens every day, not just when drinking raw vegetable juice. The body already has its own clever system to rid itself of toxins. If it did not, we'd be in trouble. Tracing particles in mucus so we can sneeze them out.
Part of the good contains special lymphatic cells called Peyer's patches, which form bundles in the mucous membrane lining. The results of these patches are entitled to identify and screen out harmful particles so that they are not absorbed into the bloodstream.
Meanwhile, your kidneys filter was a cup of blood, excreting toxins as urea out of the body as urine.
When it comes to alcohol, it's the liver that has the job of detoxing you. It's a two-step process. First alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde, which is toxic, but this is rapidly converted to acetic acid, then carbon dioxide and water. If you drink faster than your liver can metabolise the alcohol, then it can not keep up with your blood alcohol level.
If you persistently drink to excess, acetaldehyde can damage the liver. But the liver can successfully detoxify the body from more moderate amounts of alcohol.
Good evidence in favor of detox diets is lacking
So do special detox diets work? They range from those where they simply cut out alcohol, caffeine and sugar to much stricter diets. In 201
In 2014, two Sydney-based researchers did succeed in publishing a review of studies on detox diets.
Microbes & Me is a new collaborative series between BBC Futures.
Microbes & Me is a new collaborative series between BBC Futures and BBC Good Food.
In the series, we'll look at the recent research into the microbiome of bacteria that lives in all of us.
We'll be exploring how it affects our health