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The liver is about the size of an American football and weighs three pounds. It does many jobs to keep our bodies running, from helping the immune system to creating proteins for blood clotting.
The liver also deals with harmful substances, almost like a factory. It takes nutrients from the food and drinks we consume and breaks them down to be packaged in a usable way while removing the waste in the bile or via the kidneys, usually in the form of urine.
A popular cleanse is the cayenne pepper and lemon juice drink to "help your liver flush toxins."
You drink it, and it gets digested. Nutrients get absorbed in the blood and arrive at the liver. But the liver processes these nutrients the same as everything else. It packages what's useful and disseminates it throughout the body. What it can't use becomes waste. So there's nothing exceptional about mixing cayenne and lemon. It doesn't "clean the pipes."
You might lose a few pounds at best because you aren't eating much. At worst, you could go into starvation mode.
The idea of cleansing has been around for thousands of years. For centuries, there was a lot of focus on ridding the body of impurities and sickness. Bloodletting, purging and fasting were all well-guarded treatments.
Today's wellness industry picked up on our desire to get rid of things. The word "detox" is a medical treatment for people with drug and alcohol addictions, yet the wellness industry uses it to make it sound like getting rid of all the dirty stuff. It sounds right to us because of our lack of understanding of how our liver works.
People often want to know if they should do a detox or cleanse, hoping it will remove toxins from their bodies.
Dr Jen Gunter says that isn't going to happen.
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