Maybe it is because I was raised in Canada, maybe it is because my grandparents were products of the Great Depression, but I am frugal. I’m a dollar and cents kind of gal. I always want to know exactly what I’m buying and what it is going to end up costing. So, in the course of my meticulous comparison shopping, I have created a small chart detailing the most commonly referenced weight loss programs on the internet and their respective costs. Not that I consider it a true comparison, however, because the TruVision combo works from within and does not involve gritty shakes, bars, or meal replacements of any kind. However, since so many people are watching their pennies in this day and age – this should give you good insight on what things actually cost and what you get for your dollar.
There are literally hundreds of diet products on the market, and I can’t investigate all of them, but the following list contains the ones that came up most frequently in my research. Each ‘system’ or ‘plan’ takes a slightly different approach — some focus on dietary restriction, other on pills, appetite suppression, shakes, etc. Some involve extreme dietary restrictions for their duration, which I am not a fan of. The long-term viability of program like that is not good. Some involve healthy lifestyle modification, others position themselves as being ‘magically’ effective. Popular products like Body by Vi will set you back $311 for 30 days of shakes. NutriSystem costs anywhere from $299 to over $500 depending on the package of meal replacements you choose. Isagenix, another shake and pill program comes in at $383. Jenny Craig averages $100-$130 per week and involves follow-up office visits. The TruVision combo isn’t for everyone, but it did work for ~80% of the study participants- which is a phenomenal track record by anyone’s standards. It works to balance the underlying body chemistry so your body can release the weight it has been hanging onto. It works even better if you take advantage of their 10K Fitbit program and work on getting in 10K steps per day (thereby winning free products from the company). You eat real food of your own choosing and you never have to drink gritty shakes or consume chemical cocktail franken-foods. I will be the first to admit that it is hard to compare apples to oranges, and some of these programs are very good and some are very bad. I leave it to you research each plan’s individual components, but know this: most good diet plans will have you lose 1-2.5 lbs per week on average, so if you are paying $80 to lose 10 lbs vs. paying $400 to lose 10 lbs – then your Cost Per Pound Lost is $8 vs. $40. It is clear that you don’t have to spend big money to get big results!
Cost Comparison of Popular Weight Loss Programs
||Length of Program
||Retail Cost (average)
||TruFix & TruWeightEnergy combo, pills
||Pills, patches, shakes
||4 body wraps, Thermofit, Greens, pills
||Drink additive, pills, laxative, probiotic
|| $120- 220+
||Coaching only, food extra
|Body By Vi
||Transformation kit: Shakes
||24 Day Challenge, pills, fiber, shakes, MR
||Meal Replacements (MR) kits
||Ult. Wt. Loss kit; shakes, pills
||Pills , shakes
||$60 – $120+
||Drops, $50-$120 per bottle, 1 bottle for every 20 days, $$$ charges for Dr.’s appt
||$50 – $240 av ++
||Paid per week @ $100-130/wk, MR
|South Beach online
||Centered on ‘good carbs’, foods can be costly
||MR, does not include Center fees or food upgrades
|LA Weight Loss
||3 levels – all have juice & bars, upgraded pkgs have additional shakes, fiber, and supplements
||$199 Silver$299 Gold
||Weight loss coffee, @ 2 per day
||Weight Loss Bundle; pills
||Reset Weight Loss, pills, MR,
||180 Turnaround Kit; tea, bars, shakes
||Smart mix, AM/PM combo, XM+; drink, pills
| NuSkin /Pharmanex
||ReDesign Weight Mgmt ; pills, shakes
|Physician Weight Loss Centers
|Fit Team Global
||Fit Sticks: drink mix
||Zen Shape: Mix, pills, shakes
||Shakes, portion control, exercise
||Loyalty Pack, shakes, pills
This is an aspect of weight loss that perplexes a lot of people – they start a new diet and notice their clothes getting looser, or their face getting thinner – but their weight is staying the exact same! It is frustrating, because you *think* your diet is working but you step on the scale and feel like a big old failure.
Well, I am here to tell you that you can relax! You are not a failure! You are experiencing the wonders of the fat cell in action (I can hear you saying, “big whoop — skinny thighs are what excites me!”).
Let’s start off with a little physiology lesson. In your body you have 10-30 billion fat cells, and that is if you are of a healthy weight. Overweight people can have 75 billion fat cells or more, and it is not unheard of for morbidly obese people to have 250-300 billion fat cells overwhelming their boney frames! That is a LOT of fat cells (adipocytes). Picture each fat cell like a little deflated balloon. That balloon can be relatively empty or filled to the brim and be stretched over 10x its normal size. Now these fat cells are stubborn creatures – you can always make more, but once you have them, they are yours for good. Up until very recently1, it was thought that the only way to get rid of fat cells was to cut them out, but you can deflate them — and this is the key to losing weight effectively.
You see, fat cells are little storage tanks, and despite your most heartfelt desires to the contrary, they are remarkably efficient at storing fat in the form of triglycerides within the cell. When we want to burn fat – it isn’t an easy matter of having your brain tell your body, “we need more energy – let’s burn that love handle”. It doesn’t work that way! We need two enzymes, hormone sensitive lipase and adipose glyceride lipase to break down the triglyceride within fat cell where it is then released into the bloodstream as FFA’s. The more blood supply an area has, the better it can whisk away those FFA’s that are getting dumped from the fat cells. You can see this on your own body — take a second and poke your facial cheeks. See, the fat there is nice and soft because it has a good blood supply. Now grab the fat on your belly or on your butt. Feel the difference? It is dense and hard. It doesn’t have a good blood supply to whisk fat away. This is why when you start losing weight, it usually leave the ‘soft’ places first – your face, breasts, and arms and leaves you feeling like a saggy humpty dumpty for a while. This blood flow issue also leads us to our key point – when you start a diet and are burning fat, the scale often stays immobile despite you noticing that you are shrinking. This happens because the body abhors a vacuum. When the adipocytes dump out their fatty contents, your body doesn’t like to see an empty cell – so it shuttles water into the cell to fill up the space the fat just occupied. This is also why fat loss can be considered an inflammatory process and why you often feel bad, tired, sick, or swollen when you are dieting (there are other chemical factors, but we will discuss those at another time). Your body is literally replacing the fat with water! This process is more extreme for some people than for others, and some fortunate souls experience very little of this water replacement. This is also why your stomach or thighs can feel mushy or spongy when you are losing weight – you are replacing a dense fat with water.
So, what you can do, especially if you know that you have resilient fat or are a water hoarder? Well, there are a few simple things:
- Stay hydrated. I know, you’re thinking, “Why put more water into a swollen body?”, — Well, you need to flush out the metabolites from breaking down those FFA’s.
- Limit Caffeine and Alcohol. A little of either substance is OK, and small doses of caffeine can even be beneficial because it has a mild diuretic effect. Large amounts of either (and by large I am referring to more than 3 caffeinated beverages or more than 1 glass of wine or beer each day) can cause you to swell up like a balloon at the Macy’s Day Parade AND make your hard-earned weight loss come to a grinding halt.
- Shake your booty. Yes, I said it. The largest lymphatic pump in your body is the quadriceps muscles in your legs, so anything that gets those quads pumping — like walking, dancing, or biking, increases your lymph flow and your blood flow. If you work yourself up to a decent exertion point, then you will really increase systemic blood flow, and breathing (and breathing is the means by which your body excretes the metabolites of burnt fat cells!). Dig out those Richard Simmons’ shorts you’ve been hanging onto for the past 20 years — (they are back in style) and get ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies!’
So there you have it! Know that you are not hallucinating – your face is thinner, your breasts are shrinking, and those bingo wings are real. Your scale just hasn’t caught up with your body! The more you follow the above steps – the faster you will purge that excess water (and inflammation) and the scale will start moving in the right direction.
It recently came to light that the health & wellness MLM company, Visalus has had a 50% decline in profits and has lost 40,000 of its distributors over year-to-date figures.1 This follows on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission opening an investigation into Herbalife2, and Italy’s Antitrust Authority scrutinizing three other health and wellness companies; Organo Gold, Vemma, and Asea3. There are some waves afoot in our industry!
Now some of these issues have been brought on by the companies themselves for less than desirable behavior, but other things were entirely preventable. Within the confines of network marketing, rules are established to ensure that a certain percentage of sales are direct-to-consumer and that product sales are not supported entirely upon the backs of fellow distributors. Many companies, and distributors in general, feel the pressure to push for larger and larger down lines instead of building a solid core of devoted consumers. We can see this frequently in how compensation plans are structured, promoted , or (mis)understood. As we have seen in other countries, the day is quickly coming in which all network marketing companies will be required to maintain a specific customer to distributor ratio. These requirements are a good thing because they ensure that not only is the product desirable and worthwhile, but it’s pricing is competitive. This establishes need for a superior product, and reduces the onus on sole profitability, thus eliminating the proverbial ‘pyramid’ where the few ride upon the backs of the many. As someone who readily supports network marketing, and wholeheartedly believes in relationship sales, I feel we need to look at these news reports as learning opportunities regardless of the company we personally promote.
To ensure longevity and success in any network marketing company, we should make a point of educating ourselves on the concept of CUSTOMERS FIRST. Some of the best products in the world come from the network marketing industry. The marketing model itself should be a boon not a hindrance to sales. Your consumer may very well love the product, but may have zero interest in the opportunity. If you take a product-centric approach and promote the product first, you can go back at the two or three month mark and approach your [happy] customer about the business opportunity. However, if you lead with the business opportunity, and that person doesn’t have a true desire to be involved in selling, or if their best efforts at selling result in failure (which is statistically probable) – then not only have you lost a [unhappy] distributor, but you have lost a [unhappy] customer, and you have created a disgruntled person who will share with others their displeasure with your company. If you lead with the product, then your product has to be worthy to lead with. You won’t run into the catch-22 that people are just buying your product to meet their qualification criteria. For a company to lead with their product, it creates an environment of progressiveness. The company usually will not rest on their laurels and just hope for the money to roll in but will be driven to create new and exciting products of exceptional caliber to further increase their market share.
I have seen this issue come to light recently with distributors arguing over the decreasing value of pay points, and pointing blame at the distributors who are quick to sign up people to their business who have no intentions of ever promoting the business. Yes, this is a valid point, but the responsibility cannot fall solely on the shoulders of eager distributors. Ultimately the responsibility falls with the parent company itself. If their compensation plan is not geared towards product sales, or if their compensation plan is not abundantly clear that distributors make as much, if not more money from product sales, then they have done their brand managers a disservice. Leading with the product helps to ensure exceptional customer service as opposed to creating a “churn ’em & burn ’em” mentality where you are constantly looking for the new person who will be your recruiting rock star. Leading with the product also creates stability in your pay structure, and helps you ride out industry ups and downs. If every network marketing company demanded that customer acquisition was a part of their promotional structure, then our entire industry would be seen in a more positive light because we would have, in essence, destroyed the pyramid model that overshadows us.
One of the things I have people private message me at least a couple of times a week with – is asking me how they should approach their doctor about potentially carrying their new MLM product. Now, I have been in private practice, and I have worked as an expert in the supplement industry, so I can look at this from both sides of the fence, and I will tell you , there is a definite RIGHT way to do this and a WRONG way to do this!
First, let’s start with some basics. You always stand better odds contacting doctors that you already have relationships with. Cold-calling doctors or just showing up in
their office isn’t going to be a good use of your time or theirs and is the activity most likely to turn them off of your opportunity. So, I highly recommend that you start by approaching the doctors that you have personally seen and who know you. Also keep in mind that many physicians have a no MLM policy in effect in their office. In some States, the medical board frowns upon doctors promoting anything in their office in which they have a financial interest (which is ironic, since an office in and of itself is a financial interest). Other doctors may be receptive to finding products which may help their patients, but they are absolutely not interested in creating business relationships with their patients (and this is another grey issue for many State medical boards). So tread carefully.
1. Don’t Cold-call or just show up in the doctor’s office expecting to be seen. That is the #1 sure-fire way to have your literature and product samples ’round-filed’. Make an appointment. Doctors all pay their office staff to intercept sales calls. Every office out there gets multiple calls a week of someone trying to sell them something, so just because you are excited about your product, it doesn’t mean the doctor will share that enthusiasm. In fact, if you want the doctors attention, offer to bring in lunch so you can present your opportunity to them and their staff. On this point: prequalify with the office manager that the doctor and key staff will be present for the lunch. You don’t want to drop money on salads or sandwiches and not have the decision-makers of the office present.
2. Don’t dive right into your ‘PITCH’. You have to solve a problem. You HAVE to keep in mind the doctor’s demographic. Ultimately, the doctor wants to help their patients. If you are selling a product that helps with erectile dysfunction, but 80% of the doctors patients are under 30 years old – then erectile dysfunction likely isn’t a big concern of the doctors. Before you ever delve into your ‘pitch’, you should ask the doctor questions. Lots of questions. Find out who is a typical patient, what are the most common health issues that they see, and what do they find people have a tough time dealing with or resolving. If you have done your job right, the doctor will be talking 80% of the time, and you will be talking 20% of the time. Once you have equipped yourself with this information, then you can solve the doctors’ problem. Everything you say and do should be centered on how your product can help the doctors patients and practice. Nothing else matters.
3. Don’t be insulting. I see this sales & marketing FAIL all of the time. People come into your office and try to tell you how their product is superior by knocking down other products, or worse – they come in armed with product literature that tries to ‘baffle you with BS’. Don’t expect that the doctor knows a lot about the ingredients that you may be discussing, but alternately, don’t assume that they are ignorant. You have to walk a fine line between being informational and educational without being condescending. When you take product literature to the doctor’s office, don’t give them everything you’ve got! Keep it simple and brief – so the doctor will actually read it. This also leaves you the opportunity to be able to offer them more detailed information when you follow-up.
1. Do your research. Before you ever make an appointment with your doctor, you should have paid attention during your personal office visits to see if they even carry nutrition. You should check their web pages too. Often that will tell you if they are receptive to nutritional supplementation, and if they are fixated on a specific brand. Some nutritionally focused doctors have been indoctrinated on one brand of supplements only and look disdainfully on all others. Supplements are like religion: it is a waste of your time to try to ‘convert’ anyone who has already closed their mind to alternatives.
2. Keep the ‘relationship’ in ‘relationship marketing’. The best way to see your doctor implement your product is to have them or their staff become PRODUCTS OF THE PRODUCT. If the doctor or one or more of their staff members can use your product successfully, then they have instantly developed their own testimonial and are far more likely to recommend your product to others. If you have a fantastic weight loss product, and you see during your presentation that the doctor is wafer-thin but their staff could all use to lose 30 lbs, then your ‘IN’ at that office may be to develop an in-office weight challenge for the staff so they can personally see how effective your product is.
3. Remember that doctors HATE the word ‘SALES’. I can unequivocally say that I have met very, very few doctors who admit that what they do on a day to day basis is SALES. Most would emphatically deny that they DO sales, and would be adamant in their distaste for all things SALES. Yes, it makes no sense, but it is the paradigm that they operate under. So for this reason, you have to be very careful on how you present the business opportunity. Yes, most doctors want to diversify the potential revenue sources in the office. No, they don’t want to give up ‘doctoring’ to become ‘sales people.’ If your opportunity can provide the doctor with a passive source of income for which they don’t have to aggressively pursue patients – so much the better. Remember what I said at the beginning of this post, about some medical boards not being receptive to MLM companies? In many States, the doctor may have to personally become an ambassador or distributor, then make their practice one of their clients or vendors. That way they can sell patients the products, but they are not promoting the business opportunity to patients. This eliminates much of any potential legal liability if patients only have the option of purchasing the products as retail or preferred customers
4. Communicate a plan for follow-up. Make sure the doctor and their staff knows when you will be following up. That way they can read any literature, try any samples that you may leave, or prepare themselves with any questions they may have. Be very specific about this timeline if you want a specific answer. Don’t say, “I will follow-up with you next week”. That is vague and creates no urgency. It is far better to say, “I will call you Thursday morning at 10 am to see what questions you may have for me and see how you did with those samples.”
The key to success is not to be emotional. Be professional and considerate, and whether the doctor loves or hates your product, leave a good impression. Even if they are not interested in the product or the opportunity, you want them to feel confident that it is a safe and effective product for their patients, because sooner or later one of their patients will ask them whether they should be taking that product, and if you’ve done your job, the doctor will have no problem giving their approval to the patient regardless of their financial involvement. Lastly, keep in mind, that most high-commitment sales involve 4 points of contact. Rarely will people give you a definitive YES or NO with your first contact. Again we come back to the ‘relationship’ in ‘relationship marketing’. Build a relationship with these doctors. Even if they say no now, that doesn’t mean that will always be their answer. If you come across an interesting article that supports an ingredient in your product, mail it to them with a little personal note. If you present yourself as a problem solver, you can’t help but to succeed.
Copyright (c) 2013 Miranda Jorgenson. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part with out the express written permission of the author. You are welcome to share this link or print this page and use in its entirely
This isn’t an exciting post but we have to stop throwing the word ‘detox’ around. If you do not define what you mean by it, the term is meaningless, and the vast majority of people are using the term as a symptom catch-all and that is simply not how detoxification works.
DETOX. For such a little word, it is sure used a lot in dietary supplement claims and reports.
Starting a new supplement & you’re feeling bad? You must be detoxing!
How does supplement X work? It detoxes you!
Have a headache? You are detoxing!
Do you have gas & bloating? You are detoxing!
Constipation? Diarrhea? You are detoxing!
You have a rash? You are detoxing!
Not losing weight? Your fat cells need to detox!
Blah, blah, blah.
Let’s start by detoxing the term detox!
I really don’t like the word DETOX. I think it has become highly overused, and most people don’t have a clue what it means or what they are actually referring to when they use the term. So in effect, it has become a vague term that people use when they don’t have anything better to say. In fact, in one British study, a network of 300 career researchers investigating ‘detox supplements and products’ found that no two companies even used the same definition of “detox” and most companies made vague claims without even referencing what “detox means or proof that it actually works.”1
Do I believe that the body accumulates toxins which impair health? Absolutely. Can I think of any science proving or even suggesting that a specific supplement can detox the body of all of these environmental toxins? Absolutely not.
To be clear, this isn’t an exciting blog post. There is nothing exciting about detoxification, especially when so many people have it so spectacularly wrong. First, let’s review some basic physiology. Everything your body ever comes in contact with, and everything you ever breathe in or consume needs to be processed through either your liver, your kidneys, your lungs, your bowels, or through your skin. Water soluble substances don’t pass through the skin readily but are filtered by the kidneys fairly efficiently. Oil-soluble substances can be absorbed readily through the skin and are processed by the liver, and sent through the bowels for elimination. Gaseous substances, like anesthetic, are cleared directly from the lungs. Most of the toxins you are exposed to will be via your mouth in the form of what you eat and drink. Looking at the digestive tract for a moment, consider it a ~30 foot tube connecting your mouth to your anus. Approximately 80% of your immune system is centered in and along that tube, and maintaining its balance is a single, fragile layer of cells only one-cell thick. If this layer of cells is damaged, the selective barrier loses its selectivity, and foods, toxins, and other substances that would normally pass through your system with little consequence, can now be absorbed directly into your system (where your body can mobilize antibodies and inflammation for protection against this onslaught). In addition, there is an intricate balance of over 500 different types of bacteria (about 3 pounds worth all together) that live along is this tube which form part of a collective ecosystem to help you digest food, produce vitamins, make nutrients available, regulate hormones, and excrete toxic byproducts of your metabolism. When this lining or bacterial ecosystem become impaired, then you suffer from a wide variety of health complaints because your organ systems simply cannot operate at full function. Now, your body being the masterpiece of engineering it is, it tries to maintain an equilibrium, or ‘steady state’. So it takes these substances that it recognizes as foreign and it walls them off or stores them in the tissues it deems less critical for survival. As far as your body is concerned, your fat stores are less critical to your immediate survival needs than the health of your ligaments, nerves, and muscles. So initially, your body packs away these metabolites and toxins in fatty tissues and this can lead to cysts, lipomas, or benign tumors. Next in the line of potential storage spots, your body likes the myelin sheath – that fatty layer of insulation that surrounds your nerves and aids with nerve conduction. Connective tissues like ligaments, bones, and blood, and then tissues such as nerve and muscle tissue come next. Areas bathed in fluid, like joints are always prime targets for metabolite deposition (an example would be uric acid crystals depositing in joints in people with gout). If toxic and metabolite exposure goes on long enough, entire organ systems can be affected and thereby become dysfunctional.
Getting back to your gut, many supplement companies do not take into consideration actual human physiology when they talk ‘detox’. I swear that most people think the word detox is synonymous with the word poop. Let me be very clear, just because something makes you have a bowel movement – that doesn’t mean you are detoxing. Every symptom you have is not a sign of detoxing, nor is it a sign you need to detox. Nothing gets me more wound up than all of these ambiguous posts online that blame every negative side effect or symptom on toxins. And please, don’t get me started on all of these posts where people come to a group forum and ask a legitimate health question, only to have their symptoms brushed off or minimized by some well-intentioned but ill-informed individual under the guise that “all is fine, you are just detoxing!” As a health care professional, when I see someone referring to the word ‘detox’, I read their statement as “I don’t know what I’m talking about and have nothing better to say, so I am going to baffle them with BS”.
On a very simplistic level, when we were embryos and our guts formed, one collection of nerves, the ‘neural crest’, forms and divides with one section becoming the central nervous system and the other section becoming the enteric nervous system. These two nervous systems are connected by the longest of your cranial nerves – the vagus nerve. This vagus nerve starts in the brain and terminates in the gut and this is the source of the brain-gut connection that you read about. It is also why you have ‘gut feelings’, why eating certain foods are addictive or simply make you feel good, why you want to eat when you are stressed, why food sensitivities can cause behavioral changes, and why medication such as antidepressants can cause stomach upset or nausea.
When most people refer to detoxification they are referring to liver function, or to Phase 1 and Phase 2 conjugation in the liver specifically. This is truly your major site of detoxification and it is the organ most intimately connected to hormone balance. In Phase 1, blood carrying toxins enters the liver, and the liver prepares these toxins , usually moving them towards being water soluble, and makes them more accessible to Phase 2. In Phase 2, there are a sophisticated set of reactions involving a multitude of things, including Cytochrome P450. In all, there are 6 main types of reactions that occur in the liver – with each one being completely chemically different. That is why there is no magic detoxifying agent that can clean you out entirely. Of these 6 main reactions, 3 (glucuronidation, methylation, and sulfation) are the most likely to be impaired, and the other three are more likely to affect your hormone levels.
- During sulfation, your body adds sulfur groups to certain toxins so they can be removed. Your body requires sulfur-bearing amino acids like cysteine and methionine, and B-vitamins like B12 and B6, and folic acid for these processes.
- During methylation, your body requires methyl donors to facilitate the toxin removal. Up to 40% of the population may carry genetic anomalies which hinder this process.
- During glucuronidation, your body requires glucuronic acid, various B vitamins and a significant amount of specific magnesium ions to work properly.
This all leads to glutathione conjugation, where your body then uses master antioxidants like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, along with the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, and selenium.
OK, so have I bored you to death yet? This is as exciting as watching paint dry, right? But if you have stuck with me this long, you might be asking me what this really means? In a nutshell, it means that there is no single supplement or product that can act as a total detoxing agent. Anyone who suggests otherwise, is steering you wrong and just doesn’t understand basic physiology. CBC Marketplace (click link to watch the video) , Canada’s version of 20/20 style news exposè , recently did a show where they had a group of sorority girls from my alma mater follow Dr. Oz’s popular 48 hour detox or act as a control group. Extensive blind testing was provided by a team of medical specialists before and after the ‘detox’, and would you be surprised by their conclusion that they could discern absolutely no differences between the two groups upon the completion of the detox program? This leads us to a very important point, if you can’t find any biochemical proof that toxin levels are decreasing, then what are you really doing? There is an incredible lack of scientific literature that supports most detoxification claims; not only can people not agree what detoxification is, but they can’t prove that they are causing it.
You can take specific supplements or combinations of supplements to pull, chelate, or adsorb (not absorb) specific toxins from the body, like using chlorella to bind with excess mercury you may have in your body from consuming shellfish or having amalgam fillings; using EDTA to pull lead from environmental exposure; or using N-acetyl-cysteine to detoxify from acetaminophen exposure. But (big BUT) when it comes to detoxification, there is no magic bullet. You can’t go around claiming that every supplement under the sun is ‘detoxing’. They just don’t work that way, and even if a substance supports a step of detoxification, it doesn’t cause detoxification in its own right, and blaming all negative symptoms on detoxification is haphazard and potentially dangerous.
I have kept a running list of the ‘detox’ references I have seen in the online groups I follow over the past few weeks. Here is a list of symptoms that I have seen people blame on supplementation:
- hives and other skin rashes
- weight gain
- nausea, vomiting
- inability to concentrate, mental fog
- heart palpitations
These are not symptoms of supplement-induced detoxification!!! These are symptoms of dehydration and starvation. When many people undertake a detox plan or a new diet, they dramatically cut their caloric intake and unfortunately the do not consume enough water, or consume substances with diuretic properties which therefore increase their odds of becoming dehydrated. On day one of a typical ‘detox ‘/ diet, people often feel bad. They are hungry, may experience dizziness or irritability, and feel fatigued. By day two, their body starts breaking down muscle mass to provide them with energy and they may experience additional mood swings, difficulty sleeping, or overwhelming fatigue. By the third day, they are likely having headaches, muscle pain or stiffness, and even dizziness or nausea. Rolling into the fourth and fifth days (if they have lasted that long), their body has started to adapt to the new situation and slowed down your metabolism so they don’t feel the same degree of hunger, but they still may be dealing with altered mood, headaches, and nausea. Many people who report a 6-8lb weight loss during the initial period of any detox or diet are truly losing water and a small degree of muscle mass. They are not losing fat! You will notice that when you look at symptoms in this light, they are nearly all truly the result of dehydration and lack of calories, they have nothing to do with ‘detoxing’.
Yes, we can take steps to reduce our intake of toxins, and that may be the most practical approach to detoxification, but we can also take supplements which reduce inflammation or support optimal liver functioning so that our livers are best equipped to deal with the chemicals we assault them with. For anyone interested in detoxing, it should be clear that this isn’t a process you undertake in a few days or weeks, it should be a lifestyle change where you eat ‘clean’ and provide your body with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with vitamins and minerals, and other key nutrients to ensure that our systems are always handling toxins adequately. When someone tells me that they want to ‘detox’, my number one question is what they want to accomplish. Most commercial detox programs are nothing more than fancily packaged bowel stimulants. They make for expensive laxatives, and have no proven, measurable results, and for that reason, I do not recommend them.
While I am at it, I want to tackle ‘gluten sensitivity‘ and ‘candida overgrowth’. As these are two other catch-alls that get as much ill-informed press as detoxification. First, let’s look at gluten. Do I believe that gluten is an issue? Yes. Do I think it is anywhere as prevalent as what people like to say? No. In fact, a recent study2 found that people with self-reported (and to be fair, the gluten sensitivity tests are horribly unreliable) gluten sensitivity actually had no physical reactions from consuming gluten and instead experienced a total elimination of all of their GI symptoms by eliminating FODMAP’s (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Mono-saccharides and Polyphenols, or rather fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates) from their diet. FODMAP’s are what we would traditionally consider to be high-residue foods, things that linger in the gut and prove a fertile ground for bacteria to grow and feed off of. When bacteria thrive in disproportionate quantities or in imbalanced ratios, people can experience significant gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, etc. So what are these FODMAPS? The most common ones are fructose containing substances such as fruit, agave, honey, and HFCS. Oligosaccharides such as beans, lentils, wheat, onions, cabbage, and the other cruciferous vegetables. Disaccharides like dairy (particularly in unfermented dairy products), and sugar alcohols like xylitol, malitol, and sorbitol, which are found in many diet products. So looking at this list, you can be eating what you think is a perfectly healthy diet but causing undue havoc with your gastrointestinal tract and immune system. A lot of people are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon as of late. In fact, I have colleagues who make their living being gluten-free gurus. I have sat down with internationally known scholars in the field and I just don’t see that gluten is the whole answer. Face it, we were all raised on gluten, and while there were a small portion of the population that have celiac disease and cannot metabolize gluten, the majority of us, for hundreds of generations, did just fine with it. It was the advent of genetic modification that heralded the onset of all of this gluten fuss. It countries that do not allow GMO wheat, they do not have the same gluten issues that we face in the United States. I will say that in the allergy blood tests I run on people, I frequently see wheat as an allergic agent but infrequently see gluten, so my personal experience supports the findings of this and other studies.
Lastly, I have received a bunch of questions lately about candida, and specifically the validity of the candida saliva test. I am of the professional opinion that everyone has candida, it is just a matter of whether your immune system keeps it in check or not.
Truthfully, candida is like Epstein-Barr virus; if you go looking for it you are going to find it. It may be more advantageous and easier on your wallet to simply treat for candida if you believe you have symptoms of candida overgrowth. Now, the candida saliva test (where you spit a mouthful of saliva into a glass of distilled water and look for ‘strings’) isn’t overly accurate.3 It can be better said that it is a test of saliva viscosity or thickness, it isn’t reproducible, nor is it specific. Yes, some people have oral candida (also called thrush) and will produce a positive spit test, but many people have candida-free mouths but may have candida over growths on their skin, or in their intestines or vagina’s. Yeast is an equal-opportunity offender. You can spend hundreds of dollars having blood, stool, or skin tests done, but does that really change your course of treatment? If you believe you have it, it may be a lot easier and cheaper just to treat for it, and treat for the appropriate length of time* (*most treatments need to be for a minimum of six weeks to be truly successful). Now I am officially on the record as saying I feel the candida saliva test is a no-harm-no-foul test. You can do it if you want, it doesn’t cost you anything but 10 minutes of your time, and it may or may not help you confirm that you have an issue. I do not think it is fool-proof or diagnostic by any means, but some people need to see things in order for them to believe them, and this is a tangible test that anyone can do but it should not be something you bet the bank on!
1. Detox Dossier. Retrieved 1/24/14 : http://www.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/resources/48/Detox-Dossier-Embargoed-until-0001-5th-jan-2009.pdf
2. No effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates. Retrieved 1/24/14 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23648697
I am going out on a limb to say something that may not be very popular with a lot of people. Quit mixing your Plexus Slim and Accelerator into hot water!
Yes, I know that several high ranking ambassadors are advocating this, but as a physician with 10 years of concentration in nutrition, it really makes me uncomfortable. So here is your five cent chemistry lesson:
From a chemistry perspective, the greatest enemies of dietary supplements are time, moisture, oxygen, light , and heat. When you take a product out of a capsule, and consume the ingredients directly, you have changed the dynamic of how they are absorbed. Take oregano oil for example, if you take it orally, approximately 70% of its bioactive components, including carvacrol, will be deactivated by your stomach acid, leaving a paltry 30% remaining to do the job. If you take a sustained release tablet however, nearly 100% of the active compounds will reach the target tissues so they can best work. Most modern capsules have a dissolution rate of 15 to 30 minutes. That means that once you swallow them, they chyme around in your stomach for approximately 20 minutes before they make their way from your stomach to your duodenum and jejunum (small intestine). The pH of the stomach compared to the small intestine is radically different, and many more nutrients are meant to be broken down or absorbed in the small intestine than in the stomach. Most encapsulated supplements will open or release in the small intestine – where they are intended to work. Therefore opening capsules does not make for ideal nutrient delivery, and stomach acid can seriously impair herbs and volatile compounds.
In general, powder supplements are safe to mix into water below 120*F (warm, not hot) if (BIG IF) it is consumed very quickly. That said, most coffee makers’ processing temperature is 197*F-205*F, and beverages like tea and coffee are usually served at 155*F to 175*F – which are significantly hotter than the 120*F safety threshold. So, if you are using your kettle or coffee pot to provide hot water to mix your supplements into, or if you are mixing them into your coffee or tea, then you are denaturing your supplements. Minerals are not typically affected by heat, however certain nutrients are impaired by heat, these include virtually all proteins, vitamin C, B1, B5, B6, and B9. In fact, it can be argued that all water-soluble nutrients are potentially damaged by heat. A very large percentage of herbs are also degraded by heat, this can be directly, or indirectly as volatile compounds oxidize or bind with fibrous content or other chemical structures. In fact, one study, Novel Approaches for Stability Improvement in Natural Medicines, found that ,“Temperature and moisture are the two major factors that affect quality and stability of a herbal product. A chemical reaction increases by a factor of between two- and three fold for every 10°C rise in temperature.”1 So, if you are consuming your Plexus hot, even at the low-end temperature of coffee, you are potentially affecting the quality and stability 6- to 9- fold. That is huge! The same study also noted that moisture and the presence of enzymes also increase the rate of chemical degradation. If you open up a capsule of a product that contains digestive enzymes, and take the contents orally, you can potentially damage your teeth and the soft tissues of your mouth and esophagus. The caustic potential of most herbs have not been tested adequately, and we simply do not have long-term data on how they will affect your soft tissues. Therefore it is prudent to take herbal extracts and concentrates in capsule or tablet form.
And it is just not basic vitamin potency that we need to consider, we have to consider how heat affects the organoleptic, physical, chemical, pathological, and microbiological characteristics of the components. Organoleptic properties include ingredient strength, chemical finger print, ingredient degradation (and by-products thereof). Unfortunately, we don’t have specific stability data on most herbs. We just know, that as a category, they do not fare well under heat. They also do not fare well when mixed with fiber, therefore taking the Slim and the Accelerator+ together in hot water could potentially bind the herbal components in Accelerator+ with the fiber content found in Slim. If you were to mix your 96 Whey Protein into hot water, you would denature the proteins, and physically render the immunoglobins useless. But back to the question at hand, Accelerator+ contains a few different herbs (hawthorne, higenamine, and hordenine) that are both chronotropes and inotropes – meaning they speed up heart rate, both time and force. If you gradually [ie. slowly] absorb these herbs, they shouldn’t be problematic for healthy individuals, however, if you were to take these herbs in hot water, you can thereby force or push the absorption rate, and potentially cause tachycardia, arrhythmia, or other cardiovascular side effects. That is probably why some ambassadors are reporting such a ‘rush of energy’ when they drink their combo hot – they are impacting their heart rate! This isn’t enough to damage healthy individuals, but it is estimated that upwards of 80% of people with cardiovascular disease are walking around undiagnosed and oblivious to their condition. Do you want to be the person to send them to the hospital because they forced their absorption of these herbs, or took this supplement while ignoring the warning on the label: Not intended for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or any other cardiovascular condition. Hawthorne, higenamine, and hordenine are all relative newcomers in the supplement industry, and even the Physicians Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine, 4th Edition doesn’t list stability data for these ingredients. Therefore, it is only prudent to tell your customers to take the product as directed on the package.
It is very important that we NEVER tell a customer to take a product contrary to the instructions set forth by the company that tested and manufactured that product. Period. Not only is is against FDA labeling guidelines, but it comes off as unprofessional. When products are formulated, a lot of thought goes into their delivery system. Manufacturers choose to make their products as tablets, capsules, tinctures, or powders based on the ingredients they want to use, and where they want those ingredients to be absorbed. Some nutrients, like vitamin C can get absorbed directly in the mouth and stomach. Other ingredients, like vitamin B12, require the presence of adequate levels of intrinsic factor in the stomach to activate their uptake, or you will absorb very, very little. There are even some nutrients that bind together if taken in close proximity to each other like iron and fiber, so you end up absorbing neither. All in all, product developers spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out optimal delivery of their ingredients. There is a reason why your dietary supplement labels say “take one capsule twice daily with food”, or “mix thoroughly into 10-12 oz water and consume within 15 minutes”. Imagine how you would feel if you went to your local pharmacy to purchase some acetaminophen for your headache, and the pharmacist told you to ignore the instructions on the label, and to grind it up and snort it instead. You would think you were dealing with an utter nut-job! If ambassadors routinely tell customers to take the products against label recommendations, they place a huge liability upon both themselves and Plexus Worldwide. Until Plexus Worldwide changes their packaging to reflect that the herbs are heat stable and can be taken with hot water, you should not tell your customers otherwise. If these directions are not in writing, they do not exist!
In closing, if you enjoy drinking your Slim warm, and by that I mean 120*F or less, you can go ahead. Wait at least 15-20 minutes before you take your Accelerator + for optimal results (so the fiber in the Slim does not bind with any of the standardized herbal extracts in the Accelerator+). I absolutely do not recommend that you open the capsule or make a tea of the contents of the Accelerator+. If you choose to do so, you are doing so at your own risk. It would be foolhardy to recommend that to your customers.
So now that I have perturbed a bunch of people who have been raving all week about drinking their Slim/Accelerator tea, I’m just waiting to see the magnitude of the disturbance in the force that I create when I burst everyone’s bubble about ‘detoxing’ when I post my next blog post in the next day or two…
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1. Lovey Thakur, Umang Ghodasra, Nilesh Patel, Mahesh Dabhi. Novel Approaches for Stability Improvement in Natural medicine. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan-Jun; 5(9): 48–54.
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