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"Detox Symptoms" - Scientific Basis?

Answered on April 11, 2014
Created April 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM

I have a question about the process of eliminating foods from the diet and the symptoms caused by this. I'm not strictly talking about the change from a non-paleo to a paleo diet, but more generally, such as removing any combination of gluten, dairy, eggs, fructose/FODMAP foods, soy, grains, etc. Most of us can testify to feeling lethargic, grumpy/irritable, generally 'ill' for a few days afterwards - "detox symptoms". The general consensus among the natural health community (I've noticed) is that this is the process of your body eliminating "toxins" - therefore making symptoms worse for a little while before they get better.

What are these "toxins"? Is it based on scientific findings that this is a natural phenomenon that occurs when a person eliminates foods that have been adversely affecting their health? A cursory google search doesn't tell me much except that "Web MD" and his cronies believe these toxins are a complete myth.

Thoughts?

6a67d10bc4a9b73ebcc5adad4a3b5c42

(75)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:04 AM

Thanks - that makes sense. Explains why, for example, you can have a diet high in sugar and processed foods and not feel bad - then you cut it out, re-introduce it and notice how sugary things taste, let alone the headaches, etc.

6a67d10bc4a9b73ebcc5adad4a3b5c42

(75)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:02 AM

Agree on the reasons behind withdrawal symptoms. I'm less sure about why some symptoms, like alternating extreme digestive issues would occur, unless it's an adjustment in relation to fat intake?

6a67d10bc4a9b73ebcc5adad4a3b5c42

(75)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:00 AM

Agree - it's very non-specific. Could refer to anything at all. Thanks for your comment :)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 10, 2014
at 03:25 PM

Reading that old Melissa post yesterday reminds me that we develop real food allergies to the food we eat most commonly. Over many generations. Short term reactions to diet shifting could be biota, bad food prep, etc. Not some bogeyman.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 10, 2014
at 03:19 PM

Only that WebMD is 100% right. Using generic terms like toxin when you can be specific is the domain of bunco artists. I respect the opinion of an educated professional to pyramid salespeople.

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3 Answers

0
Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:16 AM

I hear a lot of the nonsense talk when you mention "toxins." Going into the Paleo diet, I had a viral (highest count the doctor had seen) + bacterial (mrsa + staph) + fungal infection going on for a few months that almost killed me. I'm also MTHFR+ and MTRR+, among some other interesting genetic mutations that limit my ability to detoxify against microbial / environmental toxins, when I don't consume a diet rich in b vitamins.

Every time you use the bathroom you're eliminating toxins that would kill you if you weren't removing them. Looking at all of the strange chemicals that goes into foods / synthetic materials or even the air quality and the possible metabolic pathways for potentially unwanted compounds, it seems pretty legit to me that there could be a threshold in nutrient intake to toxin intake that leads to increased toxin flushing vs toxin storage with potential side effects as those run through your organs.

It's hard to look at wheat or fructose for any sort of toxins that could accumulate, but without the ability to detoxify, toxins could accumulate, imo. If you're sensitive to wheat + fructose and that beats down your immune system with inflammation for a lifetime, it's going to limit your ability to detoxify. When you correct that issue, out come the toxins.

I like Amy Yasko's take on toxins.

http://www.dramyyasko.com/resources/autism-pathways-to-recovery/chapter-3/

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 10, 2014
at 12:02 PM

Myth/nonsense. There's a real effect called the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, which is a toxic effect when bacteria die off, and people with SIBO claim to experience it when they recover from SIBO, but even that's not really well supported.

What you describe is simply a reaction to a low-carbohydrate diet, which is completely avoidable if you make a gradual change in your diet. Our GI systems adapt to our regular diet, to make a drastic change means it will have to readapt, which is not always going to be pleasant even if your new diet is "better" than the original. This also explains why paleo folks to stray back to their former ways experience "intolerances", but rather, it's simply not being adapted to that food anymore.

6a67d10bc4a9b73ebcc5adad4a3b5c42

(75)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:04 AM

Thanks - that makes sense. Explains why, for example, you can have a diet high in sugar and processed foods and not feel bad - then you cut it out, re-introduce it and notice how sugary things taste, let alone the headaches, etc.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 10, 2014
at 03:25 PM

Reading that old Melissa post yesterday reminds me that we develop real food allergies to the food we eat most commonly. Over many generations. Short term reactions to diet shifting could be biota, bad food prep, etc. Not some bogeyman.

0
7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 10, 2014
at 11:53 AM

Sounds like Bs to me. I wonder why someone who recently switched to a new - less palatable diet - a few days ago would be a little grumpy?

I could see withdrawal symptoms maybe going from a high sugar diet to a no sugar diet. I could also see the low energy being because your body is going from processing carb heavy to fat heavy and needs to properly adjust to burn the new fuel.

6a67d10bc4a9b73ebcc5adad4a3b5c42

(75)

on April 11, 2014
at 12:02 AM

Agree on the reasons behind withdrawal symptoms. I'm less sure about why some symptoms, like alternating extreme digestive issues would occur, unless it's an adjustment in relation to fat intake?

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