To anyone with a scientific bent, Dr. Oz continues to be a source of amazement, amusement and frustration. His most recent foray into optimizing our health takes him down the “detox” path. It’s a treacherous path, full of pseudoscientific weeds. If we the advice of the Great Oz we can can rid our body of toxins and boost our energy levels in just three days! It worked for him, and he guarantees it will work for us. Here is the actual claim: Eliminate harmful toxins, restore your system and reset your body with this detox cleanse. All you need is 3 days, a blender and $16 a day! There’s something else you need. A big dose of credulity.
The whole idea of “detox” or “cleanse” is bogus. The body is not some sort of network of pipes and storage vessels that periodically have to be flushed out like a coffee machine. Neither is it a computer that can be reset. And just what sort of toxins is Oz proposing to eliminate? These are never named, neither is there any evidence provided that they are being eliminated.
The magical detox program is based on consuming only liquids for three days along with some multivitamin and probiotic supplements. There is a morning detox tea and beverages for breakfast, lunch and dinner made by blending flaxseeds, almond butter and coconut oil with a variety of fruits and vegetables. A “nutritional expert” who is on the Oz bandwagon tells us that these ingredients are chock full of phytochemicals. She got that right. The term phytochemical just means chemicals derived from plants.
There is nothing wrong with any of these ingredients but there is plenty wrong with making unsubstantiated claims. Like Oz’s physician guest who chimes in to tell us that limonene in lemons boosts the liver’s ability to detox. And that green tea binds metals in the liver. Really? Where is the evidence for that? He also calls coconut butter a “superfood.” That’s usually a giveaway of scientific folly. There are good diets and poor diets but “superfood” is a nonsensical concept.
Then there is another component to the detox regimen. A nightly Epsom salt detox bath. This, we are told, draws toxins through the skin. What toxins? Who has measured these? Then Oz’s doctor colleague tells us that magnesium in the Epsom salts activates enzymes and sulphur boosts levels of glutathione. How is this supposed to happen? Absorption though the skin? That just doesn’t happen. There is supposedly more convincing evidence when Dr. Oz brings out two audience members who tried the three day detox and lost weight. No surprise there. That’s what a three day low calorie liquid diet will do.
As most of you know, I’m all for eating lots of fruits and vegetables, cutting down on meat and getting plenty of exercise. Not just for three days, but as a lifestyle. The idea that we are full of toxins that have to be periodically purged is scientifically bankrupt. But it does great things for Dr. Oz’s bank account.