You’ve no doubt gathered I’m a fan of The Age as a source of news, but I’m completely mystified about why they persist with some of the ridiculous stuff in the ‘Life and Style’ section. Whereas other sections are generally well researched, the paper is completely credulous in this section.
Why else would they publish a piece of drivel like this.
Writer Bronwyn McNulty has squeezed this article full of new-agey cliches and pop-culture, mixed in with the bleedin’ obvious – for example, that exercise is good for you. It’s all there, even the advice to ‘write down 3 good things about your life’ etc. Perilously close to the Secret.
And of course, all the stuff on detox is just moronic. I’ve discussed detox before in this review of Ben Goldacre’s book. For example, naturopath Amanda Haberecht (German speakers please note the irony in this name) says that:
“Spring is a great time to reduce the toxic load on your body by undergoing a detox”
“Many people will experience improved energy, immunity and sleep during a detox.”
Oh really? Why is spring so special? Surely if we’re loaded with toxins we should be keen to shed them at any time of year, right?
As for the energy, immunity and sleep, I say, prove it. Show me the studies. Actually, don’t bother – there are none, I’ve checked.
And why is it the just ‘many’ people will experience this, and not ‘all’? Don’t all people have toxins? Or are some immune? I need to know!
The reality here is that ‘toxins’ are a fantasy. They’re a crutch with which to prop up ‘professions’ like naturopathy, a grab-bag of all the non-serious, non-specific ailments, which can also be described as the ‘symptoms of life’. As far as we know, the relevant organs are pretty good at getting rid of anything toxic. They really don’t need a rest. If they do, again, I’d like to know on what this is based .
Toxins are also the mystery autism-inducing ingredient in the MMR vaccine. Unfortunately for the proponents of this idea, no such toxins can be identified, nor is there a causal link between the vaccine and autism, but they don’t let those inconvenient facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. (Before you write in to correct me on this, no, formaldehyde is not the toxin, being in trace amounts and swamped by the same stuff produced naturally in the body, and nor is the Thimerosol preservative, which was removed some years ago). Now, if I may, I will gently replace the lid on the hornet’s nest and move on, ok?
Dietician Julie Gilbert gives us the brilliant advice to divide treats into smaller portions, saying:
“For example, only eat one Tim Tam instead of the whole packet”
OK. If ever there was a use for that ubiquitous and very evocative word ‘duh’, this is it.
But, back to Amanda, who cautions:
“However, people with a chronic illness and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not detox. Speak to your health practitioner before detoxing.”
So the implications of this are that in some cases it’s better to keep the toxins on-board, right? Yep, if we’re choc-full of those nasty toxins, then let’s make sure we pass them on to that foetus or new-born. And how does having any chronic illness change situation? Are toxins good for treating cancer? Or is it that the detox process of eating light and healthy will somehow hasten its onset? Give me a break.
Not only is the toxin story fantasy, it’s not even a consistent fantasy.