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Best Detox?

Byline: Hilarie Stelfox ,

A glass of tap water and an early night are the best remedies for festive over-indulgence, according to a group of scientists who have been looking at the detox industry.

According to Sense About Science, the human body has its own highly-effective "detox" mechanisms and we simply don't need to spend money on special products.

The group's director Tracey Brown goes as far as saying that: "They waste money and sow confusion about how our bodies, nutrition and chemistry actually work."

The first few weeks of the New Year are traditionally a time when many of us take a closer look at our health and lifestyle. It is the prime time for giving up smoking; taking up exercise and joining a slimming club.

Detoxing has also become a popular New Year habit, helped along in recent years by the queen of the detox Carol Vorderman and her many diets and nutrition plans.

Detox aficionados say that festive excesses can cause a build-up of toxins in the body, leading to weight gain and a general feeling of sluggishness and ill-health.

Numerous products, many based on herbal remedies, are sold with claims that they help the body to get rid of toxins and restore normal functioning of organs that have been under stress.

However, Sense About Science point out that drinking plenty of water and getting good quality sleep can achieve an effective "detox".

"When harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver acts as an extraordinary chemical faactory, usually combining them with its own chemicals to make a water-soluble compound that can be excreted by the kidneys.

"The body thus detoxifies itself. The body is rehydrated with ordinary tap water. It is refreshed with a good night's sleep.

"These processes do not occur more effectively as a result of taking "detox" tablets, wearing "detox" socks, or using any of the other products and rituals that are promoted," added Mrs Brown.

The group has based its advice following research by a number of leading scientists into the role of detox solutions. Dr John Emsley, chemical scientist and science writer, says: "Our bodies are very good at eliminating all the nasties that we might ingest over the festive season.

"There is a popular notion that we can speed up the elimination process by drinking fancy bottled water or sipping herbals teas, but this is just nonsense.

"In fact, many of the detox diets and supplements really aren't that good for you, nor have these been properly tested."

He believes that the principles behind detoxing have become an urban myth.

Adrian Midgeley, who runs one of Huddersfield's best-known health stores, Half Moon Wholefoods, notices an annual seasonal interest in herbal remedies and detox supplements in the first weeks of the New Year.

And while he agrees that drinking water and getting enough sleep are vital for good health he firmly believes that herbal remedies can help to restore optimal health after a period of overindulgence.

"It's also important to get fresh air and exercise. Exercise gets the lymphatic system working, which helps the elimination of toxins and waste products," he explained.

"We sell herbal products, such as dandelion and milk thistle, that will help give your liver some extra support to remove toxins if you have been eating and drinking too much over Christmas.

"At this time of year there are a lot of colds and flu around because people's immune systems tend to be lower after Christmas. Eating excess sugar and drinking can affect your immune system so something like echinacea might be useful," added Adrian.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2006
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