Every now and again I hear on twitter that a wine trade colleague is having a break from the booze. Frequently, this is badged as ‘detoxing’, and is accompanied by a peculiar and rather frightening diet.
Now, unless you are caning rather too much wine than is good for you—and just what this harmful level might be is unclear, and is likely to differ among individuals—detoxing doesn’t make much scientific sense.
Our bodies are continually detoxing. It’s why we have a liver and two kidneys. Drinking mineral water for a week and having a colonic irrigation to remove small undigested bits of meat and childhood-ingested marbles is not going to flush out ‘toxins’ from our body, because unless we are gravely ill, our bodies are pretty effectively detoxified anyway.
But I can see that there is some value in detoxing, even if it doesn’t make medical sense.
That value is in the symbolic act that changing our diet for a while represents. Cutting out certain foods and drinks for a period signals two powerful things. First, it shows we are able to change; we still have control. A period of temporary change such as this acts as a punctuation mark in our lives.
Second, the outward act of the detox has a symbolic value, and can precede and mirror necessary internal changes. It is made more powerful because it concerns food and drink, which is taken into the body, thus reaching inside us. In a sense, it is an outward sign of a spiritual act, although I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word because it is so polarising. What I mean by this is that we are more than just physical beings; we have an internal life that transcends our physical make-up, however you want to term this.
For this reason, I think that we shouldn’t dismiss the notion of detoxing, even if it has a fragile (or false) scientific basis.
Personally, I like to view wine drinking as healthful. For this reason, I don’t see the need to cut it out altogether, as if drinking wine were a harmful act in which the pleasure outweighs the harm, so we tolerate that harm. By all means, reduce consumption – perhaps to a glass a night – during a detox routine, but then savour this glass as something healthy, natural and life-enhancing.