Episode 127 Show Notes
In this episode, Grant and Heavey talk about marathons as the ultimate marker of health (or is it?) as well as their thoughts on cleanses, weight loss, chronic toxicity and supplementation.
[01:57] Kidney Wrecker
Grant and Heavey discuss an article called Running a Marathon Is as Traumatic for Your Kidneys as Heart Surgery. A new study from the Yale School of Medicine suggests that besides the sore muscles, running a marathon wrecks your kidneys for a few days.
They found that around 80% of runners who complete marathons have kidney function that resembles that of patients who just went through heart surgery or are hanging on for dear life in the ICU.
[02:45] A Marker of Health?
What’s interesting, Heavey thinks, is that a lot of people put marathon as a marker of health and something to aspire to being the “accepted” form of fitness.
Running a marathon is traumatic to the body but comparing this to having a heart attack is pretty wild. The article suggests that blood and urine samples from marathoners post-run showed high levels of creatine and inflammatory proteins, similar to patients who have an acute kidney injury.
The Yale nephrologist who conducted this study suggests that this could be caused by a number of reasons including dehydration and elevated body core temperature.
But while they’re still trying to figure out the exact cause, they’ve proven that the body goes back to normal after a couple of days, assuming you don’t have an underlying condition.
[04:00] Is This Healthy?
So you won’t be seeing runners dying over a marathon since the body has that capacity to recover. But it’s interesting to see the manifestations it has on the body at an acute level which does look unhealthy.
[04:40] Detox and Cleanse
People talk a lot about detox and they want to cleanse so they can detoxify. They claim the functions of their liver and kidney have been compromised so they want to give their organs an opportunity to repair themselves to restore normal function.
Grant and Heavey actually did an episode on cleanses before where they did a 5-day Neera Cleanse. Grant was not quite ecstatic doing it and remembers feeling hungry and grouchy the whole time.
They basically did 5 days of no eating except for drinking a syrup juice occasionally to try to quench their hunger. The purpose of that diet was to actually to restore organ function.
Heavey sees a continued growth of interest in detox and cleanse. Yet while detox is popular among the alternative medicine crowd and yoga people, this is often smirked at by the scientific guys. But this idea of detox is undeniably growing in popularity.
[07:53] Detox = Weight Loss?
People tend to hide behind the detox concept or cleansing thing when they’re really just trying to lose weight. During that 5-day cleansing, Heavey actually lost five pounds from doing it but more than half of it was lean mass which is a combination of muscle and water weight.
But this isn’t a fat loss thing and definitely not a healthy way of losing weight. When people say they want to cleanse, a lot of times, what they really want is a quick way to lose weight. Heavey says if that’s your intention then you definitely shouldn’t attempt doing it.
[09:25] What is a toxin?
The body actually has this built-in capacity to detoxify itself through our kidneys, liver, and other organs so we can excrete toxins by way of urine, sweat, etc.
But first, we’ve got to identify what a toxin is. When people say they want to detox, they want to purge themselves of heavy metals like mercury, pesticides, and food additives, and other pollutants. There’s no question these are harmful to your health but you have to recognize that any substance can be harmful too.
Just to put things in the right context, chocolates for instance, are eaten by humans but they’re lethal to dogs. Conjugated linoleic acid is the healthy transfat available in grass-fed dairy that while safe for humans, can actually cause fatty liver in mice.
That said, when we talk about being toxic, knowing that there are certain species and how that relates to scientific literature is important. So if a rodent study suggests you’re going to get fatty liver from grass-fed milk, you have to know that although it’s true for the rodent, it’s not going to be true for you.
[12:43] Toxin in the Right Context
Poison is related to toxin in that toxin can poison you. But then again, there are three important pieces to consider here. First is the species affected. Second is the dosage. You can die from drinking too much water. While water is the healthiest substance on the planet, it can still be toxic to you. So the dose makes a big difference in the discussion of toxins.
[13:43] Chronic Toxicity
The third piece in the context of toxin is the capacity for accumulation. For example, people won’t eat fish worried they can ingest mercury and the body isn’t great at purging itself of mercury.
Heavey tells a story of some people living on the mountain having contaminated water in their well. The people were unknowingly ingesting mercury for an extended period of time until they got sick. They ultimately found out the culprit and it was mercury accumulation over so many years that caused the problem. In this case, their body’s built-in detox capacity was not equipped to rid itself of the toxin.
[14:50] Is Lemonade Your Magic Pill?
The Master Cleanse, also called the Lemonade Diet, is where this all started. The recipe consists of lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and grade B maple syrup.
The point, however, is that calling something toxic without the context of all these three components is far too simplistic.
Unfortunately, any sort of lemonade is not going to help chronic toxicity, which refers to the exposure to toxin over time.
[16:07] Eliminating Toxins
The first line of defense is a well-fed body. Any magic syrup or secret supplement is not going to help you clear things out. The best approach is to eat a well-balanced diet that’s going to adequately fuel your organs to work to their full capacity.
Companies, however, make this argument that cleansing is done to make it much easier for the body to easily digest food and save energy so it can instead spend that energy taking the bad stuff out.
An interesting piece to this argument is this study conducted in 2009 that looked at fifteen detox supplements. They went to the companies and asked for evidence to support their claims of efficacy. Out of those fifteen, none could actually produce any scientifically reviewed evidence.
Taking a look at scientific literature, none of these cleansing supplements or these so called “cleanses” is actually able to be of much benefit in terms of removing toxins from the body.
[18:30] Cleansing Benefits
Heavey is strongly against this week-long fast or lemonade diet for the purpose of eliminating toxins from their body and for weight loss. He just doesn’t think a lemonade diet makes sense.
But a lot of people who have done this stuff say they felt so much better. So it’s really hard to argue with anecdotal types of evidence. However, Heavey argues that if they are feeling better, it’s most likely because they were eating crap before and then they do some cleanse (like eating fruits and vegetables). It’s more of moving from a shitty diet to eating better food so their body is nourished and as a result, they obviously would feel better.
Heavey’s other theory is their body had been through a stressed state and their adrenals are pumping out cortisol causing their body to release adrenalin and they feel good from that. However, that is only short-term because you only end up taxing your body in a different way.
[20:40] Targeted Supplementation
Heavey has seen people on cleanses and doing targeted detoxes who are not doing a fasting-type diet but a supplemental protocol designed around supporting organ function such as that of the liver. He has seen some labwork of this that have marked improvement in them.
What people could do then if they’re feeling their detox capacity is being compromised is that they should look into it and test things to see. For instance, Heavey has run some labwork on sex hormones where they can see all the different metabolite levels and they were able to discover that lack of vitamin B for example is the missing link that needs to be supplemented in the diet.
This all comes back to eating a healthy diet because we get all the vitamins and minerals we need through a well-balanced diet. But sometimes, we need additional support when we’re in a compromised state and that’s when targeted supplementation can help.
[23:13] What’s Your Option?
It’s not all mumbo-jumbo though. Heavey has seen someone with wonky lab results and then they pulled out protein from their diet for a week and then came back to eating protein where they got dramatic different lab results. This is an interesting data point making it difficult for him to conclude that things are absolutely wrong or right. But there might be circumstances that wonky diets can actually prove valuable for somebody.
Generally speaking, eating better is the number one path to improving the body’s detoxification capacity.
[24:44] Vitamins and Supplements
Grant and Heavey are running their hormone levels and there results are going to come out in a few weeks which they will discuss in a future episode. Based on such data, they would be able to identify problems and then be able to make a decision on targeted supplementation. But without that data, by and large, Heavey thinks blanket supplementation is not a good idea because having too little and having too much are both not good. For instance, an excess of Vitamin D is toxic just as deficiency of it is bad for you. So it’s not a good idea unless you know you need it.
[27:10] Don’t do it, period!
The next time you see someone about to do or are already doing a cleanse, especially because they’re trying to lose weight, Grant and Heavey encourage that you call them out on it.
Sadly, a lot of people do that stuff without even being backed by science-based evidence. Some people are super fixed in their minds that they only choose to believe in things they want to believe.
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