Bizarre Internet fads are by no means a new creation. From the lemonade diet that was eventually popularized by Beyonce to any regime claiming to completely rid your body of toxins, many so-called cleanses are based on half-truths. More recently, the medical world has seen one that’s genuinely dangerous: the soy sauce colon cleanse.
What is the soy sauce colon cleanse?
The soy sauce colon cleanse involves drinking a liter of soy sauce over two hours. According to its proponents, the salt you consume will encourage water to rapidly move through your colon. Those same proponents believe this then ‘rids’ your body of toxins.
First, it’s true that salt moving through the colon will drag water with it. That’s pretty much where the soy sauce colon cleanses truths end. Drinking liters of soy sauce with the aim of consuming lots of salt is no safer than…consuming a lot of salt. You’re likely to encounter dehydration and all the risks that come with it.
So, why is this cleanse gathering so much attention? There’s been a very recent case of someone dying after trying it.
How does this cleanse produce fatal consequences?
The human body and all of its cellular functions depend largely on a normal electrolyte balance. Although this involves lots of different electrolytes, two are particularly important: sodium and potassium. If you have more sodium than your body can handle, you’re in a hypernatremic state. Conversely, too little results in hyponatremia.
On average, human adults should consume no more than 3400mg of salt per day. We already get most of that from processed foods. Drinking two liters of soy sauce means you could consume as much as 118,000mg of salt in one sitting.
In response to this, most people won’t be able to ignore the desire to drink lots of water to recorrect the balance. The vast majority would also probably vomit (which isn’t at all helpful if you’re dehydrated). In the case I mentioned earlier, the woman didn’t vomit and she resisted the urge to drink water. As a result, she encountered something called pontine demyelination.
Pontine demyelination is a condition where the protective sheath surrounding your brain’s nerve cells encounters severe damage. Depending on your anatomy knowledge, you may have guessed that this mainly occurs in the pons. The pons is a crucial part of your brainstem that corrects other areas responsible for basic functions. If it’s damaged, you’re highly unlikely to survive.
As a side note, simply treating your body well will promote cleansing
Always remain wary of a fad that claims to rid your body of toxins. For one, you’ll never ditch all toxins. Two, your liver and your kidneys are there to perform that exact function. They don’t need weird concoctions or ridiculous fads to work. Just treat them well and lead a healthy lifestyle.