Tag Archives: Clark’s 101

To DE or Not to DE…TOX That Is

By Craig “Duece” Doussett MPH, RDN

Much of the information and misinformation surrounding the concept of detox diets and supplements could only be murkier and more perplexing if it was written by William Shakespeare in unrhymed iambic pentameter. This may be due, in part, to the knowledge gaps that exist in the literature regarding how detoxification processes work in concert to keep us from acute toxicity. The science (often described as the meat of the matter a.k.a., the “steak”) certainly doesn’t exist in large enough quantities to justify the hype (or “sizzle”, to extend the metaphor). It may also be due to the lack of one dedicated detoxification “system”, like the muscular or cardiovascular system, further allowing speculation and “marketing” (a.k.a. effectively-targeted speculation) a megaphone for popular science. Popular science being any and all efforts to appease an impatient population with imprecise and “sciency” sounding jargon. Or it may be that the aversion one feels towards a word (CrossFit, Vegan, Paleo, Yoga, Microbrew, or Mandscaping) creates an antipathy that blinds one from exploring beyond first sight or sound. In any case, the desire to detox, to effectively assist the body’s efforts to gain or remain healthy is not a futile or fruitless endeavor. It is however an effort that must be governed with safety, prudence, and a boost in health literacy. To this end, the following questions must be asked:

Can we assist or speed up detoxification through supplementation and elimination diets? Here it is imperative to note that the toxins being targeted are from outside (exogenous) sources. Chemicals found in foods (fertilizers, pesticides), cleaning products (dyes, softeners, and preservatives), and household wares (chemicals used to treat carpets, leather, and composite materials).

Can we approach a “detoxified” state and is this state desirable above normal (read: healthy) levels? The goal of a well-thought-out detox may be more about what we remove (toxic burden) than what we include.

Is “detox” a much maligned buzzword employed to avoid the use of trite words such as ‘resolution’, ‘goal’, ‘diet’ or ‘dedication’? Would we be better off using these words and making small and lasting changes to our diet (spoiler alert: Yes! This is the best way to achieve lasting health).

Now that our health literacy has been boosted, what supplements are worth our time? Aloe-Vera, Senna, Red Clover, Milk Thistle (unless allergic to ragweed), and insoluble fibers in powder form can be used judiciously. While these are the least harsh and safest “detoxifiers” on the scene, always seek the advice of your doctor and inform them of any and all supplementation.

Detoxification efforts receive the majority of their benefits from the following:

Increase fluid intake (kidneys, bladder, skin, and fat cells)

Increase fruit and vegetable intake i.e., increased levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber (digestion and colon health)

Secondary emphasis on grass-fed and organic meats and reducing consumption of processed carbohydrates

Tertiary emphasis on reducing food sensitivities, allergies, and trigger foods that feed the stomach but starve the brain.

Detoxification diets are fads in the classical sense i.e., the science has not caught up with the marketing machine which includes word-of-mouth and inspiring testimonials. Yet it is vital to remember that many common place approaches to life started out as a fad e.g., high fat diets have now been shown to improve the symptoms of epilepsy in children and insulin sensitivity in Type II diabetics, and high-complex carbohydrate diets are standard for some liver disorders. The goal is to engage in a behavior that is healthy, safe, sustainable, and above all eliminates deficiencies in lieu of creating them.


Clark’s 101

Magnesium the Magnificent!

By Clark’s Nutrition

Medieval Latin named it “magnesia”, a white lodestone mineral that was highly magnetic and very highly prized by the 15th century alchemists. This group of protoscientists aimed to purify base metals into gold and craft elixirs of mortality, and believed magnesium deposits could be used to craft the mythical “philosopher’s stone”. While unsuccessful in their pursuit, this historically significant movement produced many writings that would eventually be of benefit to geologists, architects, physiologists and biochemists. Today, we know magnesium to be one of the most important, most studied, and most dynamic nutrients in our bodies. As a major mineral, magnesium assists the body in carrying out over 300 enzymatic reactions, stabilizing our cell’s energy currency, and helping our muscles and nerves relax. Individuals with physiological appropriate levels of magnesium tend to suffer less from conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension. But the benefits do not end there, magnesium may also improve short and long term working memory by improving the density and strength of our nerve network. Luckily, nature has made magnesium ubiquitous and easy to ingest, no matter the eating philosophy, dietary needs, or food selection of even the most finicky eater. Good sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy, fish, and legumes (magnesium is mostly synonymous with high fiber foods). As easy as finding and ingesting magnesium should be, there are still large swaths of the population that are in deficiency states. Individuals in chronic unmitigated high-stress lifestyles, alcoholics, caffeine abusers, those engaging in long periods of sweating without proper hydration (exercisers), and individuals eating a highly refined “fiber-less” diet are most at risk for a magnesium deficiency.

Inadequate magnesium may also exacerbate the following conditions:

  • Depression- by reducing serotonin levels. Serotonin positively affects almost all of our 40 million brain cells by regulating sleep, mood, sexual desire, appetite, and learning and social behavior.
  • Heart health- low levels of magnesium may lead to heart arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) in combination with calcium.
  • Diabetes- magnesium helps to regulate the effects of blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Osteoporosis- 50-60% of our body’s magnesium (~25 grams total) are found in our bones.

Magnesium recommendations are 310 milligrams for women and 420 milligrams for men. This dose may be increased in times of acute deficiency with one caveat, high doses of magnesium may cause loose and watery stools (which may be the desired effect for those suffering constipation). Upper tolerable levels for daily use are between 800-1200 milligrams for up to three months. Magnesium can interfere with some medications therefore it is imperative that individuals currently taking any medication discuss magnesium dosing with their doctor.

Magnesium is found in powder form, which can easily be mixed into a drink as well as capsules and liquid. Taking 100 milligrams (up to 250 mgs may be well tolerated after a ramp up period) an hour before bed may help to relax muscles and increases the function of GABA receptors (GABA is a calming “inhibitory” neurotransmitter). If the alchemists taught us one thing, it is our interaction with minerals may greatly influence our longevity and health span. As always, have a healthy day.

C Doussett MPH, RDN