Detox beware

January 6, 2016
Matt 'the Pillar' Miller

Every January the multi-billion dollar health and fitness industry has its  biggest revenue month praying on the guilt of post-holiday bingers.  

One of the biggest promotions advertised are detox diets and plans; 

and most are nothing more than dangerously reckless scams.  

Not providing enough water/fluids can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Extreme calorie restriction can lower metabolic rate such that when food/calories are resumed dieters end up becoming even fatter.

Food restriction disrupts the normal micro organisms in the digestive tract.

Fruit juice detox can elevate the bodies natural pH and lead to Acidosis.

Not to mention the human body can defend itself very well against environmental insults and occasional overindulgence. 


Cleansing your body on a fad program is potentially harmful – not healthful.  

But although the body is amazingly designed to defend and maintain itself, we are progressively being attacked in ways not readily apparent  to even a health-minded consumer.  As a result, developed world diseases such as cancer, mental disorders like depression or hyperactivity and  clinical obesity are indisputably on a dramatic rise.

That is where the concept of a bodily cleanse comes in.  Recently, I have read many articles , from the Daily Mail to the Harvard Medical School, that say there is no medical evidence in support of fasting or cleansing.  

The truth is you can argue just about ANY medical claim with opposing published research. Which makes things seriously confusing.  And to say there is no medical evidence in support of fasting is a massive lie. 

There is a body of new medical evidence in both animals and humans building to support cleansing in combination with herbal supplementation and calorie restriction as a foundation for overall improved health:

Weight Control

One of the first things that people notice when they embark on a cleanse is the weight loss. Studies on intermittent fasting have shown that it is just as an effective approach for weight loss as compared to cutting calories (1). In one study, overweight women who fasted intermittently for six months lost more weight than women who restricted their calories each day (2).

Reset Food Cravings

Reset Food Cravings

It would seem that after a day of not eating, one would be more likely to gorge on food when it was re-introduced. Not so. Evidence suggests that when intermittent fasting becomes a habit, less food is commonly eaten during normal calorie days (3). 

Reset Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity—how well insulin does its job of ushering glucose in the blood (after eating food) into the appropriate body tissues where it is used for energy—also looks to be “reset” by fasting. One study showed that healthy men who fasted for 20 hours every other day for 15 days had increased rates of glucose uptake, signifying improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control (4).

Brain – BDNF

Brain Protection

Research on fasting’s effect on brain and mood has so far been done on animals, but the results are very  promising. It appears that fasting stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases the resistance of brain neurons to degeneration and preserves learning and memory (5). Fasting has also shown to be beneficial in the brain for stimulating growth of new brain neurons, called neurogenesis (6). When levels of BDNF increase, so do levels of serotonin, otherwise known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter (7). This could help explain why one study among aging men found that after two-day fasts, their moods and perceptions of quality of life were improved (8).


One of the most important defense mechanisms the body has to guard itself against aging is a process called autophagy (8). Autophagy can be thought of as the body doing its own internal “housekeeping” so that all organ systems and processes continue to run smoothly. Old, damaged cell components are repaired or discarded so that cells can continue to function optimally. Autophagy in the body decreases as we age, so the body’s ability to self-help  is reduced as well. Calorie restriction, including fasting, has been found to promote autophagy to repair the body’s cells (9). It’s as if the consumption of fewer calories allows the body to rest and to go into repair mode. 


Aside from current clinical research, fasting is part of food anthropology. With documented roots by Plato and Hippocrates in ancient Greek times, fasting also has an integral role in ancient Egypt , Buddhism , Hinduism, Judaism and Christian history.  It is not some fleeting fad. 

That said, it does not mean the fasting/cleansing concept is exempt from the power of becoming an unhealthy fad. 

Turns out,  nutrition is a very small part in our daily food choices.  

Long gone are the days of eating locally and seasonally as a result of mass availability.  Diets of small game, roots, vegetables , nuts and berries are certainly nostalgic but hardly our fare quotidien. 

With modern plenty and abundance food moved from the world of necessity into the world of fashion . And with fashion come haute trends: vegetarian, nouvelle, sushi, detox diets- all trends that identify who we are and that we are currently on trend and in fashion. We even have reverse food snobbery – a deliberate cultivation of proletarian tastes so long as it is romantic – such as gastropub, American BBQ , even paleo. And the food fashion industry’s success depends on evolution and change with consumers buying into the latest trend statement.

It’s a shocking revelation : 


Our diet is a a powerful symbol of our social group and status. Starbucks to-go coffee . Caviar. Fish and chips. McDonalds. What we eat and do not eat projects a story about us that we want to share with the world in the same way our clothes do. And this is dictated and controlled by millions of dollars and pounds of advertising spent by the food industry to put you smack in the middle of one of those groups. 

So armed with all this awareness how does one proceed with a detox/cleanse that is not going to land us on a page in the Mirror in some health scandal?

Here goes :

1. Do a cleanse for the right reason. I hate the negative psychology of bingeing and purging.  Find a healthy balance. Plan your overindulgence purposefully and modestly so you don’t have emotional regrets about them.  A cleanse should be undertook as part of general maintenance because you simply want to be and to function better. The weightloss possibility is only a sideline effect. 

2. Hydrate and flush. Any proper cleanse will include significant amounts of fluids and water to flush your body at a cellular level. 

3. Never starve your body

Your body is most capable of using it’s own stores of fat for energy. But significant levels of calorie restriction  does not mean that you leave your body high and dry on all the nutrients it needs to function. Fiber, enzymes, essential proteins and fats as well as nutrients and phytonutrients must be maintained. 

4. Do it yourself.

But you still need all the right nutrients, so go to one of the oldest most trusted centers, We Care in California, and order both the digestive and nutritional packages:

5. Have it done for you.

Look up the experts at Plenish and have it all thought out and delivered to your door:

There are loads of health scams out there. And so much confusing and contradictory information makes healthful decisions difficult.

If you fancy reading about my personal journey and experience have a read here:

Lastly remember there are scams trying to snare you everywhere, but Incorporating a bit of housecleaning into your life is never a bad thing- even for a bodybuilder! 


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1. Eshghinia S, Mohammadzadeh F. The effects of modified alternate-day fasting diet on weight loss and CAD risk factors in overweight and obese women. J Diabetes Metab Disord 2013;12:4.

2. Harvie MN, Pegington M, Mattson MP et al. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. Int J Obes (Lond) 2011;35:714-27.

3. Varady KA, Hellerstein MK. Alternate-day fasting and chronic disease prevention: a review of human and animal trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:7-13.

4. Halberg N, Henriksen M, Soderhamn N et al. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. J Appl Physiol 2005;99:2128-36.

5. Mattson MP. Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: a neurobiological perspective. Annu Rev Nutr2005;25:237-60.

6. Mattson MP, Wan R. Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. J Nutr Biochem 2005;16:129-37.

7. Martinowich K, Lu B. Interaction between BDNF and serotonin: role in mood disorders.Neuropsychopharmacology 2008;33:73-83.

8. Teng NI, Shahar S, Manaf ZA, Das SK, Taha CS, Ngah WZ. Efficacy of fasting calorie restriction on quality of life among aging men. Physiol Behav 2011;104:1059-64.

9. Bergamini E, Cavallini G, Donati A, Gori Z. The role of autophagy in aging: its essential part in the anti-aging mechanism of caloric restriction. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2007;1114:69-78.

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