‘Banuary’ and the ‘Janopause’ are just two of the nicknames given to our tendency to detox in the January, after the indulgent festive period. Yet did you know that banishing booze from your diet for the first month of the year is actually medically futile?
While a month-long holiday from drinking can give the liver a rest, experts warn that it doesn’t rejuvenate the organ in the long-term. In fact, forgoing the pub for a month lulls drinkers into a false sense of wellbeing and security, leading them to consume more from February onwards.
It ‘feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything out with a quick fix,’ says Dr Mark Wright, consultant hepatologist at Southampton General Hospital.
Though the liver is fantastic at detoxing, giving it a rest doesn’t reverse the alcohol damage. ‘The liver treats alcohol as a poison that the body needs to evacuate. To break alcohol down, the liver produces enzymes. High levels of enzymes can lead to liver scarring and eventual cirrhosis, which can be fatal,’ explains Dr Wright.
Even Dr Christian Jessen describes the word ‘detox’ as the bane of his life. ‘It represents a multi-million-pound industry and has spawned so much pseudo-science on packaging, boxes and in magazines that it has become an established term, despite being devoid of all scientific sense.’
There’s no such thing as ‘detoxing’, according to Dr Christian. ‘Your body comes with several remarkably efficient organs, your liver and your kidneys, that can remove most harmful substances.
If humans stored toxins as much as the manufacturers of detox products would have you believe, then we would have died out years ago. Gentle exercise and adequate fluids are all that are needed to get the human body back on track after a period of over-indulgence.’
In light of Doctor Christian’s wisdom, to the pub it is! Everything in moderation..
Picture credit: Tobyotter