Episode 84 Summary
- What is myth-information? - Myth-information is a term coined by one of our colleagues and past podcast guests, Dr Liz Fraser. It is a combination of myth and mis, hence myth-information.
- Juice cleanses and juice detoxes - these are very common topics that are pertinent examples of being myth-information.
- What exactly detoxifies our body? There are billions of chemical reactions happening every second within our bodies that are dealing with all kinds of toxins that we make just by being alive. The two main organ systems in our bodies that drive this process are the liver and the kidneys. These organs are vital and without them, we will die. Detoxifying the body has absolutely nothing to do with drinking juice.
- The negative impact of juicing on our body - many of the commercial juice cleanses use juice high in fructose, which makes the liver work extra hard as fructose is a type of sugar that only the liver can metabolise (alcohol can also only be processed by the liver). Excessive consumption of juice (or alcohol) is actually harmful as it results in fat being stored in the liver and the disease of fatty liver.
- As juice contains no protein, no fat, and often no fibre, it often results in people feeling hungry, which they actually like as there is a mistaken idea that in order to lose weight, you need to be hungry. In fact, juices are incredibly energy dense, making them counterproductive to losing weight, particularly as they also do not leave you feeling full. Furthermore, the lack of protein and fat means you are missing an enormous amount of nutrition.
- If you really want to help the natural detoxification and cleansing capabilities of your body, and if you really want to lose weight, normalise blood sugar, and regain health, then you need to focus on first of all not putting the toxins in your body. This means reducing alcohol, reducing refined sugars, processed foods, carbohydrates, and smoking, whilst eating real food, getting good sleep, exercising, and reducing stress.
- “Weight loss Tattslotto" - studies show that the majority of people who win the lotto, will lose that wealth within three years, due to lacking the tools to manage money their properly. The same is often true for weight loss. We want to be thin, we want to have lost the weight, but we often don't learn the tools properly to do so.
Is a juice detox healthy?
Dr Mary Barson: Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. Good morning, lovely listeners. I'm here with my beautiful colleague, Dr Mary. How are you this morning, Mares?
Dr Mary Barson: I'm good, I am good. I am tired. I'm in this annoying stage of pregnancy where it's disrupting my sleep, and I love sleep. I love it a lot. So, but it's okay, it won't last and I'm just gonna spend the rest of the day being exceedingly kind to myself. I'm good apart from tired.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, and recognising that whilst pregnancy’s uncomfortable, a baby doesn't sleep very often through the night either.
Dr Mary Barson: Let's not think about that right now.
Dr Lucy Burns: I'm super looking forward to today's topic. So last year, might even be the year before, early on in the podcast, we had one of our gorgeous colleagues, Dr Liz Fraser, who has coined a term that we love called myth-information. No, I don't have a list. It's a combination of myth and mis. So, myth-information. And we wanted to talk this week about a very common topic that really is a whole pile of myth-information, and that is the concept of the juice cleanse or the juice detox. So Mares, you're a biochemist on top of being a medical doctor. So biochemistry, I mean that's, detoxification is biochemistry.
Dr Mary Barson: It is, yes. Billions of chemical reactions are happening every second within our bodies that are dealing with all kinds of toxins that we make just by being alive. It's fabulous, it's complicated, it's beautiful, and it happens without us needing to drink juice.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. So the two main organs we have, I mean we have lots of as you said, lots of chemical reactions going on that would constitute detoxification, but what are our two main organs that we use for those?
Dr Mary Barson: The two main organ systems in our bodies is our livers, which are the metabolic powerhouses of our bodies. They can do incredibly complex things and help us process a lot of the toxins in our blood and toxins that get into our bloodstream from where we eat. Really, really clever, and myriad, myriad ways that our liver naturally detoxifies things in our bodies that could be harmful if they were allowed to hang around. And the other one would be your kidneys. Weeing things out, filtering through and eliminating things that we need to get rid of, via our wee. Probably the two main things. We do also detoxify with our skin and our lungs and lots of other mechanisms as well, but mostly I think credit needs to go to your liver and to your kidneys.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And we know without these organs, we die. And if your liver packs it in, then we usually die of something called hepatic encephalopathy. So that's when some of the toxins that the liver normally deals with, affect our brain. And so it's a very, it's a vital, a vital organ, and you know we always talk about loving your liver. It deserves credit, it is a beautiful, beautiful organ, with dozens of things that it does to look after us.
Dr Mary Barson: Oh, absolutely. I think it's worth noting that modern medicine has come up with a way to artificially recreate the function of the heart and the lungs and the kidneys and the gut, but it has not come up with a way to artificially replicate the role of the liver. And if you get liver failure, there's no dialysis, there's no ECMO machines, there's no total parenteral nutrition, there's nothing that can be done. We really need our livers.
Dr Lucy Burns: No. It's a transplant or you die. So you know, I love getting on my goat, my soapbox, my high horse.
Dr Mary Barson: I love the mixed metaphors there.
Dr Lucy Burns: I know, all of them. I'll get on my high horse with a box and a goat, but anyway. And adding some cheese, what's cheesing me off? All of the things. So when somebody is on a juice, you know people go, “I'm doing a juice cleanse”, or “I'm doing a juice detox”, part of the reason it gets on my goat is because of two things. One, like we've got organs to do detoxing, but two, what do you reckon your liver thinks about juicing? I'd love to hear your thoughts, Mares.
Dr Mary Barson: Yeah, so it's a bit rude to your liver, to be honest. First of all, it's rude in a few ways. Your liver probably isn't cognisant enough to care, but, to be offended, although it might be damaged. Yeah, it's rude in a few ways. So it suggests that cleansing and detoxification is something that we drink, or that we do to our bodies, rather than acknowledging that it is a miraculous process. And as I said, billions and billions and billions of chemical reactions going on every single second, all these parts of your body working so hard in this miracle of biochemistry, to keep you alive and functioning. And the other thing is that I mean, it does depend a lot on the type of juice detoxing, but many of the commercially available, you know six-day juice cleanses where you just buy the juice products, are quite high in fructose, in sugar, which really makes our liver work particularly hard. And it just gives your liver, basically another kind of headache to deal with. Don't think your liver can have a headache, but you know what I mean? We're all about mixing metaphors today. So it is an exceedingly strange concept to me, that first of all, cleansing and detoxification is something that happens by drinking extra fluids laden in fructose, and also that you're actually asking your liver to really step up. So fructose, which we've talked about before is a type of sugar. And it is, the only way that humans can deal with fructose, the only way that we can process it, is through our liver. Whereas glucose, for example, another other type of sugar, every cell in our body can burn glucose. So if you ate 50 grams of glucose, that would be shared and metabolised in theory through absolutely every cell in your 60, 70, 80, however kilo body you are. But if you then eat 50 grams of fructose, all of that fructose has to be managed by your liver. It is the only biochemical mechanism that we've got to deal with it. Very similar to alcohol, the only way we can process alcohol is via our liver. And indeed, the chemical processes between fructose metabolism and alcohol metabolism are strikingly similar.
Dr Lucy Burns: Mmm, absolutely. And we know that excessive consumption of either of those products results in fat being stored in the liver and the disease of fatty liver. So fatty liver was only ever a disease, this is in the 70s and 80s when I did my training, was rarely only, it was really only associated with alcoholic liver disease. And it wasn't until you know 90s, that they started seeing fatty liver in children, that they then coined the term non-alcoholic fatty liver, or NAFLD.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes.
Dr Lucy Burns: It's really hard to say.
Dr Mary Barson: It is hard to say.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah, but really, it's fructose fatty liver. Much easier, FFL. So then to me, yeah I've, I am offended by this idea that a juice cleanse, a juice detox is actually the antithesis of a detox. Your liver is having to work really hard to process this and if you already have fatty liver, then you're not doing anything at all. In fact, you're potentially harming your liver by just giving it a giant whack of fructose, or as Mary calls it fructose, to metabolise. Must be which side of the bay you come from.
Dr Mary Barson: That's right.
Dr Lucy Burns: So, if you really want to give your liver a rest, then the idea would be to minimise some of the toxins that it has to process. So like, you know, avoiding alcohol for a certain amount of time. That's a beautiful way to look out for your liver. Reducing or, you know your consumption of fructose, and a lot of people will think that fructose is just found in fruit, but that's not true. Fructose is half of sugar, so table sugar is half fructose, half glucose. So all sugar is 50% fructose. And so avoiding sugar, certainly avoiding excessive quantities of fruit juice is another beautiful way to detoxify. So, I actually think that juice detoxes should be called juice toxes.
Dr Mary Barson: Ha, ha, ha. That's right.
Dr Lucy Burns: If you want to toxify your liver drink six glasses of juice a day.
Dr Mary Barson: Yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: It's so interesting, isn't it, that they have taken hold? Why, why do you think Mares that people love the idea of a juice cleanse? What do you think it is?
Dr Mary Barson: I think it's a beautiful promise. I think that it's something that's relatively easy to do. Juice is sweet and delicious. And I think that it's something that has really taken hold in, like, especially in Australia, it's taken hold in the complementary alternative medicine circles, that we need to detox, and that detoxing is something you do with specific commercial products. You know, it's very handy for the companies that sell juice detoxes for this myth to be maintained, whereas the truth is a little bit, a little bit more boring I suppose, isn't it. There really is no silver bullet, there's not any sort of one magical way to quickly heal your body within a few days. But the idea of it is very alluring and I can understand why people would like to do it.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah, and I think, look the marketing around them is lovely. They often come with pictures of, you know brightly coloured juice. You know, there's usually some watermelon somewhere and a bit of a green thing and some orange. It does, it's very aesthetically pleasing. The thing about it, again depending on how long people are doing juice cleanses, juice has no protein in it. It has no fat in it, most juice. It has a whole lot of sugar, probably has no fibre. Some of them might have the pulp, but the majority of it doesn't. So they often result in people feeling hungry. Now again, this idea sometimes that people like feeling hungry because they think being hungry makes you lose weight. And that's you know, there's this association with being hungry. You must be hungry to, that must mean I'm losing weight, because you know, my body is starved of energy. In fact, juice is incredibly energy dense. And if we swapped the word energy out for calories, because that's all energy is, juice is a giant whack of calories. So you get to have all these calories. You get some vitamins; I think that's another promise. There's some vitamins, some phytonutrients in there, the colours and things like that. But you get no protein, you get no fat, you're missing an enormous amount of nutrition. But they are sold to us as being nutritious. It's these nutritious juices, they're so lovely, they're so beautiful, they taste delicious, and they're gonna make you healthy. No, they're not. That's mythology, misinformation.
Dr Mary Barson: Information.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah.
Dr Mary Barson: And I think the truth, the truth is beautiful, but for some people the truth may be a little bit less palatable. And the truth is that, you know if you really want to help your natural detoxification, natural cleansing capabilities of your body, if you really want to lose weight, normalise blood sugar, regain health, then you need to focus on first of all not putting the toxins in, as you mentioned. So reducing alcohol, reducing refined sugars, processed foods, carbohydrates, smoking, all of these things. You need to eat good food, you know, real food. You should get good sleep. Sleep is incredibly important for our natural detoxification systems. Seeing your friends and having social interactions is also really important. Getting some exercise and reducing your stress. Stress is a toxin to our bodies. So all of these things when you put them together, and when you are able to create some balance in your life, create some healthy, helpful habits to be able to undergo that identity change that happens with repeated good habits of you know, I manage my stress, I eat well, I do not drink to excess, I am a non-smoker. All of these beautiful changes in identity towards living a more healthy life, this is true cleansing. This is true detoxification. But it doesn't involve you know, giving $200 to someone for a six-day juice cleanse.
Dr Lucy Burns: Correct, correct. Oh, marketing mischief at its finest, isn't it? Just these promise the world. I think part of it is that it's exploiting humans' need for a loophole or a shortcut. And again, we're clever, why would you go the long way if there is a short way? That's normal, it's normal to do that. There's no way I'd take the long road if there's a short road. The problem is when the short road is not actually there. The short road is a myth, or when the short road is marketing, or when the short road literally is, it's short for short term. Short gains. That's not helpful.
Dr Mary Barson: You've got a beautiful term for this Lucy, “weight loss Tattslotto".
Dr Lucy Burns: I love the idea of weight loss Tattslotto. What it is, the concept goes, when people win Tattslotto or tatts, whatever country you're in, when they win lotto, you go from having whatever your money situation is to suddenly becoming wealthy or rich. Now the statistics show that the majority of people will lose that wealth within three years and that's because they never really learned the tools to manage money in the first place. So the habits that they had around money are the same whether you have lots of money or little money, and so the money just goes and in three years’ time they're back to where they were. We want the same often for weight loss Tattslotto. We want to be, you know thin, to have lost the weight and we don't always learn the tools around it. And some of the products that are out there, some of the other tools I guess, will promise this. You can eat, you know it's things like guilt free living. You can eat this food without guilt. I mean you know, you and I both know that there should be no guilt around it anyway.
Dr Mary Barson: Not a big fan of guilt, yep.
Dr Lucy Burns: No, but it's the promise of some sort of loophole that you'll be able to do this and still get the benefit without doing the hard yards. Well, my basic thoughts on that is, if that was true, wouldn't we all be doing that? Wouldn't we all just do five days of juice and be the healthiest specimens on Earth, glowing and doing just that once a year, and then just doing whatever we want for the rest of the time. You know, of course we would. That would be, because if there is a shortcut and it works, then we would take it. But just like learning to manage your money, budgeting, not spending more than you've got, all of those things, they're the same sort of techniques that we need to use to learn to manage our mind around food. It's boring and it's hard and you know, it doesn't promise the world. But it works.
Dr Mary Barson: It does work, and it can transform your life for the better. It just doesn't come in pretty, brightly coloured bottles.
Dr Lucy Burns: No. That's a wonderful way to end, Mares. Thank you for today's chat. I will hop off my high horse with my goat and my box and go forth and have a wonderful day.
Dr Mary Barson: I'm going to have a wonderful day of resting, quite possibly a nap right now.
Dr Lucy Burns: All right listeners, we'll catch you next time. Thank you, bye now.
Dr Mary Barson: Bye.
Dr Lucy Burns: So my lovely listeners, that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns.
Dr Mary Barson: And I'm Dr Mary Barson. We're from Real Life Medicine. To contact us please visit https://www.rlmedicine.com
Dr Lucy Burns: And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the real health and weight loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.