Lately, all the rage is about Cleansing and Detoxing our bodies internally. A surplus of detox diets and drinks (fruit juices, water containing fruit juice) are being sold both in stores and on the internet. Their popularity is increasing and misleading communities. The reason being propaganda from the media, TV health personalities, naturopathic doctors and more. According to them, adding a few tangerines, mint or grapefruit juice in water gives you a bona fide Grapefruit juice detox water.
All these drinks/diets are advertised as detoxing the toxins out of our system but no one ever tells us which toxins are they trying to get rid of? How are these products achieving the detoxification? I am pretty sure metabolism proves Liver is the organ responsible for detoxification process in the body.
The question is: Is the grapefruit juice detox water really magical?
According to metabolism and scientific literature, the simple answer is No.
“More water makes the body’s job of flushing toxins easier,” said Cornell nutrition and chemistry professor Thomas Brenna, “but I can get that water from my tap.”
How then the grapefruit juice detox water take over the role of an entire organ and enzyme system?
There are a whole bunch of companies selling ‘detox water/products’ containing grapefruit juice in stores and over the internet, promoting cleansing of the body systems internally, weight loss, control of blood pressure and practically a cure for every and disease out there. Their detox drinks contain different combination of juices and other ‘natural’ products like Aloe Vera, flax seed etc.
Misinformed communities and individuals buy into this fabricated truth thinking they are doing something good for their health. In reality, they are only wasting their money, and are being deceived.
Because of all these folk tales of magic of grapefruit, there have been quite a few Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials that have examined the effects of grapefruit or grapefruit juice consumption per se on metabolism. Data from these studies show there was no significant decrease in body weight, lipids or blood pressure as compared to their control counterparts.
Any weight loss or improvement in circulating HDL seen is because of low caloric diets e.g. Grapefruit Diet. The weight loss seen was not because of supernatural properties of grapefruit but because of caloric restrictions, not consuming carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes, incorporating more servings of protein and so forth.
Therefore, the Moral of the Story is: grapefruit is good for health but has No magical properties of inducing weight loss or detoxification. Incorporating grapefruit in an otherwise healthy diet might promote health benefits. Of course eating a grapefruit before a meal would make you full faster and you will eat less.
Grapefruit is worth it, but grapefruit juice detox water is not
It is true that grapefruit juice is relatively rich in nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, and has fewer calories than other many juices. So, what could be the trouble with water made out of juice of such a fruit that is almost a powerhouse of
- Vitamin C: which is needed for a strong immune system
- Lycopene: which is an antioxidant, meaning it fights free radicals
- Limonoids: that shows some cholesterol reducing properties2
- Naringenin: a flavonoid that has been shown to repair damaged cells
- Glutathione (GSH): this is often referred to body’s master antioxidant
The Myths and Facts About Grapefruit Juice Detox Water
Myth #1: Grapefruit Juice cleanses your body in a natural and healthy manner. It is known as one of the best detox diet fruits because it is full of antioxidants thus keeping your body healthy and clean.
Fact: Liver and Kidneys are body’s ‘Natural’ Detox Systems. It is true that water is good for health, and keeps liver and kidneys in good shape. Liver picks toxins from the bloodstream and converts them into water soluble substances that are excreted in urine. The kidneys help as well.
This is a natural, everyday process, essential for life. Plain, old-fashioned water is the much needed ingredient to keep this detox system working. But adding cucumbers, mint, fruit juices or Grapefruit juice and other ‘Natural’ ingredients to water does not give it any extra powers to ‘detox’ the body.
My question including other scientists is “what special toxins the specialty waters are supposed to be helping us flush? No one is telling us that.”
Myth #2: Grapefruit juice detox water contains high amounts of glutathione, thus clearing the entire body from harmful toxic substances produced by the body
Fact: It is true that glutathione (GSH) is referred to as the body’s master antioxidant, and is present in virtually every cell of the human body. It is composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. Our cells produce glutathione from these three amino acids. The highest concentration of glutathione is in the liver, making it critical in the body’s detoxification process.
Grapefruit (3.5 oz, 100g) contains about 7.9 mg of glutathione, so do other fruits like strawberry (6.9mg/100g), cantaloupe (9mg/100g), with asparagus and avocado containing the highest content of glutathione (28.3 and 27.7mg/100g respectively).
Daily glutathione intake from foods high in glutathione averages 100-150 mg. A healthy adult has about 10g of glutathione circulating in the body tissues. In comparison, dietary glutathione content is very small (about 1-1.5% of circulating GSH). This means grapefruit consumption cannot increase the glutathione levels in liver indicating that GSH from grapefruit is not aiding in detoxification of human body.
Why does glutathione from grapefruit water does not increase detoxification process?
The widespread belief is that if you have consumed a supplement, it has to benefit you. Right?
Anything entering our digestive system has to pass through body’s stringent systems in place, to filter out the toxins, bacteria, etc. One reason being that stomach acids would degrade most of these unwelcome substances. Therefore, no benefit from every consumed substance. e.g. glutathione (GSH), essential oils, DNA, ATP.
This is the major obstacle in drug development as well. The coating of the medications has to be able to deliver the medication in its full form to blood stream without getting degraded.
- Consuming dietary glutathione or pills are unable to enter bloodstream because
- Most of it is lost in the digestive tract
- It is a small protein molecule that gets hydrolyzed (broken down) by an enzyme (gamma- glutamyltransferase) present in the intestine
- Thus it is unable to raise intracellular glutathione levels in most important detoxification organs, namely liver, kidneys, lungs
- Accessibility of glutathione supplements by organs/organ systems in humans
- Bioavailability of dietary supplementation of glutathione in laboratory animals has been established
- However, this has not been shown in humans. There are few clinical trials of oral glutathione supplementation in healthy subjects but the data is heterogenous at best.
- This means the results of every trial were different and no real conclusion on the benefit of GSH supplementation in humans can be drawn from these
- For sake of argument, let us assume oral consumption of GSH leads to increased bioavailability in humans
- Only one trial has shown an increase in GSH in body compartments after 6 months of regular intake of large amounts of GSH 250mg – 1000mg daily
- Even then the lowest dose to show any results is 250mg per day for 6 months before an increase in GSH content is seen. Only buccal cavity contained most of the GSH that increased
- Rest of the trials showed there was no significant change in GSH content even with 500mg of GSH consumption daily
- Now compare the above dose of GSH used (1000mg daily) with GSH content present in grapefruit
- 100g of grapefruit contains only 7.9 mg of glutathione which is negligible in comparison to that required to raise the GSH levels in the body (only buccal cavity)
- Furthermore, in grapefruit water drink, this content would be extremely minute negligible the juice is diluted when mixed with water.
- Moreover, when the grapefruit juice is in water and kept for extended periods glutathione disintegrates.
So, advertising that the grapefruit detox water/grapefruit products that have properties of cleansing and detoxing our body especially because of glutathione is completely misleading.
Myth #3: The natural supplements (e.g. vitamins, antioxidants etc) in the grapefruit water/products facilitate the detox process and gently cleanses the system long term and in a natural way
Fact: Once again, the liver plays a key role in most metabolic processes, especially detoxification.
- The liver neutralizes a wide variety of toxic chemicals:
- produced in the body (internal sources), and
- those coming from external sources like the environment
- Even the normal metabolic processes produce a wide range of chemicals and hormones for which liver has developed neutralizing mechanisms
- and, liver detoxifies every time a harmful chemical comes in the body.
- Not just once for a long term, as the common misconception is
Detoxification process of human body explained in simple concise manner
The liver plays several roles in detoxification:
- Filters the blood to remove toxins (Phase I)
- About 2 quarts of blood passes through the liver every minute to be detoxified.
- The blood from the intestines contain a lot of toxic substances e.g. large number of bacteria, bacterial endotoxins, antigen-antibody complexes, and more.
- Detoxification is done by a group of enzymes called Cyt P450 (Cytochrome P450) and NOT by a grapefruit detox diet or water.
- These enzymes change the toxins chemically either into:
- water soluble form where they can be excreted by kidneys in the form of urine (e.g. Caffeine), or
- converts them into a chemical form that makes it easy for Phase II enzymes to metabolize.
- A healthy liver clears 99% of the bacteria and other toxins during the Phase I.
- this does not mean that a damaged liver can be restored to health by grapefruit water/products
- Liver synthesizes and secretes bile that is full of cholesterol and other fat-soluble toxins: This is liver’s second detoxification process (Phase II) where bile is made and secreted
- Each day liver makes about 1 quart of bile, which carries toxic substances, and throws them in the intestines
- Here, fiber absorbs the bile and toxic stuff and eliminates via bowel movement
- However, if the diet is low in fiber, it cannot bind all the toxins and they stay in the intestine
- This is a larger problem because the bacteria in intestine modify this toxic waste to more damaging substances
Phase I is where free radicals are formed in the detoxification process
- For each molecule of toxin metabolized by phase I, one molecule of free radical is generated
- This is where our most favorite antioxidant comes in picture: Glutathione
- Glutathione is the one that neutralizes these free radicals
- Individuals with overactive Phase I system will be relatively unaffected by caffeine drinks.
- Patients with under active phase I detoxification will experience caffeine intolerance, intolerance to perfumes and other environmental chemicals, and an increased risk for liver disease.
- I am pretty sure in this case, no matter how much of grapefruit detox water these patients can drink it would NOT help them to properly metabolize or detoxify.
Myth #4: Grapefruit juice/water leads to weight loss in a healthy manner because it cleanses the system by emptying the intestines completely thus getting rid of toxins as well
Fact: Restricting your diet to only grapefruit, grapefruit juice/juice water might produce a drastic weight loss just in a few weeks. But the moment you go back to eating even a normal diet, you will gain all that lost weight and more, rather aggressively.
In addition, this weight loss is not from burning fat, but from break down of muscle and losing water weight. This will do more harm than good by creating severe deficiencies in your body leading to more health problems
- e.g. Red grapefruit inhibits bioavailability of iron in the body.
- could lead to chronic diseases like Type II diabetes and heart disease.
In contrast, adding grapefruit, and other fruit and vegetables to an otherwise balanced diet along with exercise will help you lose weight in a healthy manner that you would be able to keep off in the long run.
Take home message:
- It is true that grapefruit like other citrus fruit is relatively rich in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and has fewer calories than many other juices.
- Incorporating it into a balanced diet would definitely produce health benefits.
- Regardless of what the folklore is or what the famous personalities/weight loss companies promote, any diet that restricts food groups is unhealthy. [Don’t forget that our metabolism requires the presence of both micro and macro nutrients simultaneously].
- Eating a whole fruit is much better than 100% juice, let alone a fruit juice water.
- Whole fruit would generally have more dense fiber content (soluble and insoluble) and other nutrients in comparison to juice or juice water that contains only soluble fiber if any.
- Grapefruit does not have magical properties to achieve detoxification, weight loss, glowing skin, boosting immunity or fight cancer. If someone does get diagnosed with cancer, going on a grapefruit diet or detoxifying your system with grapefruit juice water is NOT going to solve that problem.
- The only magical part of grapefruit diet/water/juice/ is watching how fast the weight comes right back after you thought you lost it forever, and/or developing chronic diseases like obesity, Type II diabetes and so on.
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