As part of my Month O’ Smoothies Challenge, I decided to do one day of nothin but smoothies. (As a reminder, my “diet” for this month is replacing my breakfast with a delicious, produce packed smoothie. Just one a day, nothing too crazy.)
There is a definite craze going on these days that supports the notion that we need to “detox” our bodies. It’s hard to make a list of my least favorite words that arise whenever people want to talk about health and nutrition because there are so many of them, but “detox” definitely makes the top 10…along with “anti-nutrient” (see my original post on Paleo for more information on that). “Detox” is one of those very vague terms that floats around the media. No one really knows what it means, but it sounds important, so people keep saying it. Here are some important questions that you should chew over when considering a “detox.”
Q: What are the toxins of which you’re ridding your body when you go on a “detox”?
A: Pesticides? Inflammatory molecules? Antinutrients? Cancer? The boogey man?
I use question marks in my answer because I don’t know what the answer is.
Q: How, exactly, are drinking a bunch of fruits and vegetables going to rid your body of these toxins?
A: I’m not knocking fruits and veggies here. If you’ve been paying attention this year, I’ve got nothing bad to say about them. But, unless you’re eating organic, you’re actually going to introduce pesticides (and who knows if that’s even a bad thing? I’ll go into detail on that when I do my Sustainability Month). Eating fruits and veggies that are packed with anti-inflammatory agents will promote health and reduce the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, but they aren’t going to get rid of the ones you have. You can actually just eat lots of fruits and veggies on the reg — there isn’t some transformative value of putting them in a blender that gives them miniature superhero capes. And doing it for a day only isn’t really going to do anything at all.
Q: Does the body lack the ability to get rid of “toxins” (put simply, things that are bad for us)?
A: No, it doesn’t. It actually has some really incredible organs called the small intestine, liver, and kidneys whose jobs are to prevent bad stuff from getting in / getting rid of The Badness when it does get in. These organs stop working properly when they aren’t treated properly (i.e. binge drinking, doing drugs, eating an unhealthy diet). The body is composed of a pretty incredible set of systems, and a single “detox” isn’t going to do much for them. In fact, a detox could actually hurt those organs, because they require a proper balance of nutrients to work, and most “detox” programs are deficient in nearly every nutrient. A better program is to just eat a healthy diet full of foods that are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich components pretty much all the time. But that just doesn’t have that glamorous ring to it, does it?
Q: What about cleanses? Aren’t those good? Don’t I need to cleanse my body? (This is sort of a tangential thought, but it seemed like the right time to answer this question).
A: No. See above answer about the organs that get rid of bad crap — same thing. Also, anything that involves a “colon cleanse” is a bad idea. There are lots of really beneficial bacteria that have formed a symbiotic relationship with your gut – they live off what you eat and they help to promote a healthy immune system and overall keep your insides happy. Don’t get rid of them. YOUR COLON SHOULD NEVER BE CLEAN (unless you’re getting a colonoscopy. Have fun with that).
I decided to follow Dr. Oz’s three day smoothie detox because 1) I saw it on Pinterest, so I figured lots of other people had too; 2) I didn’t look for any others. This doesn’t mean that I support anything Dr. Oz says or does. I don’t know everything he says because it makes me too angry to listen to him, but I do know that he’s a really important contributor to the propagation of whack ass health information out there. He’s making my life harder than it needs to be. Anyways, back to my smoothie challenge. I decided ahead of time that I was only going to follow this thing for a day because it’s so low in calories, and I’m not trying to lose weight. Also, I didn’t want to become a huge bitch due to not eating for a few days. I was really just thinking about everyone else. You’re welcome, loved ones.
Here’s how it goes:
I did take a fish oil supplement because I had one. I didn’t take a multivitamin or a probiotic supplement because I didn’t have those, and I wasn’t going to spend money on them. I also decided to do a nutrient analysis to see what my intake was for that day:
|Total Calories||2000 Calories||1047 Calories||Under|
|Protein (g)***||46 g||21 g||Under|
|Protein (% Calories)***||10 – 35% Calories||8% Calories||Under|
|Carbohydrate (g)***||130 g||170 g||OK|
|Carbohydrate (% Calories)***||45 – 65% Calories||65% Calories||OK|
|Dietary Fiber||25 g||37 g||OK|
|Total Fat||20 – 35% Calories||36% Calories||Over|
|Saturated Fat||< 10% Calories||13% Calories||Over|
|Monounsaturated Fat||No Daily Target or Limit||11% Calories||No Daily Target or Limit|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||No Daily Target or Limit||8% Calories||No Daily Target or Limit|
|Cholesterol||< 300 mg||0 mg||OK|
|Calcium||1000 mg||658 mg||Under|
|Potassium||4700 mg||3485 mg||Under|
|Sodium**||< 2300 mg||610 mg||OK|
|Copper||900 µg||2840 µg||OK|
|Iron||18 mg||8 mg||Under|
|Magnesium||310 mg||405 mg||OK|
|Phosphorus||700 mg||595 mg||Under|
|Selenium||55 µg||13 µg||Under|
|Zinc||8 mg||4 mg||Under|
|Vitamin A||700 µg RAE||698 µg RAE||Under|
|Vitamin B6||1.3 mg||1.6 mg||OK|
|Vitamin B12||2.4 µg||0.0 µg||Under|
|Vitamin C||75 mg||295 mg||OK|
|Vitamin D||15 µg||1 µg||Under|
|Vitamin E||15 mg AT||16 mg AT||OK|
|Vitamin K||90 µg||833 µg||OK|
|Folate||400 µg DFE||263 µg DFE||Under|
|Thiamin||1.1 mg||0.9 mg||Under|
|Riboflavin||1.1 mg||1.2 mg||OK|
|Niacin||14 mg||7 mg||Under|
Clearly, I was deficient in nearly every nutrient, which is to be expected when there is absolutely no variety in the types of foods you’re eating. Some whole grains and a couple of lean protein sources could have done this body some good. I was kind of surprised that this day didn’t provide more fiber (37 g is still pretty substantial, but that’s the goal for the average man, so it’s really not that much). What’s most interesting to me is that a standard low calorie diet that is prescribed to someone trying to lose weight is 1200 calories. This was only 150 shy of that, and I can think of a lot of lean, satiating foods that I could have eaten with the same number of calories and felt a lot better. But pain is health, right? …Wrong.
This day was pretty hard for me. I tried to drink the smoothies slowly so that there wouldn’t be much time in between meals for me to get hungry. It worked between breakfast and lunch, and I wasn’t too terribly hungry. But the lunch smoothie was pretty weird. The consistency was more like apple sauce than a smoothie, and I ended up eating it with a spoon. It was also the only time that I did any chewing throughout the day, and it was pretty unsatisfying. Which brings me to things that I couldn’t stop thinking about throughout the day: chewing, food, food, chewing, food, food, I hate vegetables, chewing, I hate fruit, food, food, food. I also had some interesting cravings for things I really never crave including BBQ chips, fried chicken, orange chicken, fettucine alfredo, and Olive Garden breadsticks. Now that I’m not hungry, those things sound gross to me, but that’s what a day of low calories, low fat, low protein, and no salt will do to you. I’m pretty sure my attempt to detoxify my system only made me want to re-toxify by the end. Not really much of a homerun on the health front.
However, the smoothies were actually really good (minus lunch, whose flavor was nice, but was too weird of a texture to want to enjoy again), and I have since made them for breakfast. As you may have guessed, I noticed no positive changes in how I felt. No little health cherubs descended from the heavens and kissed my forehead and eradicated all my ailments. I ended the day disappointed and hungry and then went back to my normal, overall healthy eating pattern the next day. What a sad, boring story.