Food & Drink

Detox Diets Are 100% Bullsh*t, and 6 More Food Myths, Debunked

Published On 11/15/2016 Published On 11/15/2016

Do you have an annoying friend who is always waxing poetic on the benefits of "detoxing"? Or about how foods containing chemicals are always bad for you, foods with GMOs are terrible, and eating any food that might have bacteria in it is a clear and simple "nah"?

Reddit -- the virtual crossroads of the interweb -- asked its resident scientists to expel and debunk some of the most common misconceptions "laymen" have about all things... um, science. 

Naturally, food became a prime topic, and the virtual scientists in question had no problem calling us non-science folk out for being uneducated, ignorant, and overall boorish in nature. It's embarrassing, really. But hey -- at least now we know. 

Not all bacteria are bad bacteria

If you're eating food, you're eating bacteria. Period. 

The scientist collective spent ample time describing how the world is filled with seemingly infinite levels of bacteria, including many that are actually good for you. But the key snippet is actually Redditor EssJay71 quoting famed biochemist Selman Waksman:

"There is no field of human endeavor, whether it be in industry or agriculture, or in the preparation of food or in connection with the problems of shelter or clothing, or in the conservation of human and animal health and the combating of disease, where the microbe does not play an important and often dominant role."

Essentially, we need to consume these microbes to live. And without them we would die. 

"Detox" diets are 100% bullshit

The aptly named Redditor damnthatsfuckinggood put it succinctly, "...those toxin diets. 'I'm only gonna eat X this week, gotta flush out those toxins.' Motherfucker you got a liver."

Scribbler8491 goes on to say, "Dr. Dean Edell used to rant about this. 'Next time someone tells you about the need to flush out toxins from your body, ask them to name a toxin. Just one.'"

And on that note, most people don't even know what "toxins" are

Wafflebringer breaks it down: "Everything is toxic. How much you have to consume or be exposed to is the deciding factor. It's healthy to drink a few liters of water a day, its unhealthy to drink a few liters of water in a short span of time because it will throw off your cells osmotic balance. Same with medicine, a little will solve your problem most of the time, a lot will cause more problems."

Essentially, "toxins" can be anything. Even orange soda -- the most innocuous and delicious of all the sodas -- can be deadly at the wrong dosage. 

"Also literally everything is toxic, including oxygen and water. Toxicology 101: everything is toxic, what matters is the dose," user Lestes said. 

Flickr/Jennucu

Chemicals can be good for you

"Tim Minchin has a great bit on this. 'And people think that everything natural is good forgetting that natural things include poo and arsenic and crocodiles, and that everything chemical is bad forgetting that....everything is chemicals. EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS. The day that they discover yoga mats are carcinogenic will be the happiest day of my life,'" ArTiyme said. 

Even your chemically loaded baby foods should be OK for lil' baby Noah or Emma.

"My sister was worried about chemicals in baby food. She showed me the one she bought: organic, local, two ingredients. She was bummed that it wasn't just apples. Instead it had citric acid, which is clearly bad because it's a chemical name. I said, 'you're afraid of lemons?'" Nmbr27 said.

"The only way really to not have that unknown stuff in baby food is to go out and buy the likes of a BlendTec. Then again, if you put a lemon into the food, it'll have citric acid," fuzzynyanko added.

The statement "if you can't pronounce an ingredient you shouldn't eat it" is a total crock

See above.

"Organic" food isn't always good for you

User Ephemeris7 went straight for the jugular of every farm-to-table purist: "I'd like to add the misconception that if food is organic, it's good for you and not dangerous."

While Redditor Prae_ goes after the people who think organic food is completely untreated. "For that matter, the assumption that organic food is not treated. It is, just not with pesticides coming from artificial synthesis. And some of the pesticides in organic farming are under controversy for being endocrine disruptor. Just like some of our favorite synthetic pesticides. Organic is better for the environment than for you. It's still a good thing, and I'm glad there is development in this field, but the amount of New Age obscurantism surrounding this thing is absurd."

GMOs are not the devil

GMOs -- like almost any technological advance -- have positive implications to go along with the more widely publicized negatives. The technology itself isn't morally wrong and can certainly be used for "good."

"And all these people in their comfy houses eating their high-priced non-GMO foods don't give a fuck that there are millions of children in the Third World who are only alive today because of GMO crops. It's selfish, it's blind, and it's very, very dangerous," said GAGirlChild.

User dontmakemepoop (who shouldn't be judged solely on his name) weighs in: "Agriculture researcher here. The general idea of GMO's....all of our food has been altered and bred in some way to get to this point. Our food plants are ever-evolving and there are a lot more terrifying inputs in our daily lives than wheat that may have gasp a bit of rye DNA."

While ShadowDragonCHW adds some context. "The Irish Potato Famine was solved with a modified potato. GMOs can be great. Genetic modification is a TOOL that can be used for GOOD or EVIL but it is not inherently EITHER."

"Geneticist here. Can confirm, inserting huge amounts of unknown foreign DNA into the genome of a plant is totally normal every day technique in 'traditional breeding'. Yet people do not care about this at all, but are terrified if we insert a very short, completely known DNA sequence into the genome," said Durumbuzafeju, rounding out the argument. 

Overall, these are words of wisdom delivered by anonymous strangers behind a computer screen. While you shouldn't take everything they say as base fact, a simple Google search will lead you to more detailed explanations of their claims. And for what it's worth, everything here holds up. Finally, some strangers on the internet we can actually trust.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He's never once peed on a busboy, but once he threw up on a horse. Follow him @wilfulton.

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