The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Water is the best purifier

London, Jan. 3: Those who overindulged during the Christmas season would be better off drinking more tap water and going to bed a little earlier than wasting their money on expensive “detox” products, scientists say.

Every January people are urged to buy ever more products and practices designed to purify their bodies.

The multi-million-pound industry pushes a large range ' from detox footpads made from bamboo and crab shells, '195 “bio-energiser” foot spas, body wraps and diets to nettle root extract, herbal infusions and “oxygenated” water.

Now a number of scientists, infuriated by some of the misconceptions about the nature of chemicals, have contributed to a 16-page report, to be published later this month, aimed at debunking some of the myths.

Prof. John Henry, a clinical toxicologist at St Mary’s Hospital in London, said: “If you party to excess it is more than likely that you won’t be feeling your best.

“The cure' A good night’s sleep, your normal diet and plenty of water. Special detox diets and products are not going to do anything to hasten this process.”

Prof. Martin Wiseman, visiting professor of human nutrition at the University of Southampton, said: “The detox fad ' or fads, as there are many methods ' is an example of the capacity of people to believe in and pay for magic despite the lack of any sound evidence. It is a trend that should worry us all.”

John Emsley, a chemical scientist and popular science writer, said: “Our bodies are very good at eliminating all the nasties that we might ingest over the festive season.

“There is a popular notion that we can speed up the elimination process by drinking fancy bottled water or sipping herbal teas, but this is just nonsense.”

The report, produced by Sense About Science, a charity that promotes evidence-based public discussion of science, will focus on debunking popular misconceptions.

These include the view that it is possible to lead a chemical-free life, that man-made chemicals are inherently dangerous, causing cancers and other diseases, and that it is beneficial to avoid synthetic chemicals.

It points out that food additives identified by their E-numbers are broadly seen as harmful, even though E300 is ascorbic acid ' Vitamin C ' and the tocopherols, E306-309, are forms of vitamin E.

Human bodies have their own mechanisms for breaking down and processing harmful chemicals.

The gut prevents bacteria and many toxins from entering the rest of the body.

When harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver acts as a chemical factory, usually combining them with its own chemicals to make water-soluble compounds that can be excreted by the kidneys.

Ordinary tap water is perfectly adequate for rehydrating the body, say the scientists.

Tracey Brown, the director of Sense About Science, said: “The rise of lifestyle campaigns and products has created snowballing public confusion about health, chemicals and nutrition.

“We were surprised to find such strength of feeling about the detox industry among scientists.

“The criticisms were unanimous across our working group, and were echoed by other scientists and clinicians that we consulted about our forthcoming lifestyle and chemicals report.”

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