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The Promise

The Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox promises to peel off a pound a day and rid your body of toxins. But is it a good idea, given that your body detoxes itself, regardless of what you eat?

On the plan, you drink liquid every 2 hours, take supplements that have a laxative effect, and do enemas.

The plan boils down to three principles: rest, reduce, and rebuild. The rest comes from not chewing food and not working out. The reducing is the weight loss from being on a liquid diet. Rebuilding is what author Roni DeLuz says will happen to your cells after 21 days on this plan.

DeLuz, who is a registered nurse and naturopathic doctor (not an MD), recommends a 21-day detox each year, a 7-day detox each season, and a weekend detox every week. She says it's great for metabolism and energy levels. The plan also calls for an organic coffee enema once a week, supplemented by more traditional water enemas on other days.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

DeLuz has detoxers stick to water, herbal tea, juices you make from organic vegetables and fruits, homemade soups, and powdered antioxidant berry and green drinks she sells on her web site.

In a typical day, you will drink 40-48 ounces of water, 32-40 ounces of herbal tea, 16 ounces of vegetable-based soup, and 32 ounces of either a green drink made from vegetables, vegetable juice, or a berry drink.

Not allowed: Anything that has to be chewed, processed food, meat, cow’s milk, alcohol, salt, or coffee (except in that weekly enema).

Level of Effort: High

Besides limiting what you can eat, the plan also calls for getting a "high colonic" at the beginning of the plan and recommends getting lymph drainage massages, cellulite treatment, liver flushes, body wraps, and detoxifying baths. Again, there's no proof that any of this helps your body.

Limitations: You're probably going to eat very differently than you did before this diet or after it ends.

Cooking and shopping: You need to keep organic fruits and vegetables on hand, juicing and blending them into drinks and soups. If you don’t have the time to do all that juicing and soup making, DeLuz sells supplement powder that you mix with distilled water to create a shake.

Packaged foods or meals? Not required.

In-person meetings? No.

Exercise: DeLuz recommends doing very specific forms of movement, including using a Chi Machine and bouncing on a small trampoline called a rebounder to drain lymphatic fluids. Yoga, stretching, and 1-mile leisure walks are also part of the plan.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: These allowed foods would work for you:

  • Juiced, pureed, or powdered garlic
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Summer squashes
  • Most green vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Purple cabbage

Gluten-free: You'd need to check the diet's web site to see if the kit of products is gluten-free.

What Else You Should Know

Costs: If following the plan to the letter, you would also take enzyme capsules, an herbal cleansing formula, and aloe vera. DeLuz sells all of this on her web site in a kit for $199 plus shipping and handling.

A better, cheaper, and less punishing path to weight loss and good health, say nutritionists, is to eat a variety of fresh produce, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains while avoiding processed foods, salt, and too much alcohol.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:

Does It Work?

There are no known health benefits to the diet, supplements, products, and techniques that DeLuz recommends in her book, such as not chewing, coffee enemas, and laxatives.

Despite the popularity of “colonics” in recent years, they don’t make you healthier. There’s no reason to detoxify your body as it takes care of that on its own. It may even be harmful for some people.

You won’t have the energy to do much on this program, but the recommendation to avoid exercise is counter to everything experts know about exercise and health.

You'll likely lose weight on such a strict plan. But much of that will be water and muscle, since the plan offers very little protein.

Your metabolism will also likely plummet, making it even harder for you to burn calories throughout the day. Any diet that promises you’ll lose a pound a day is not a healthy approach and not one you’re likely to stick with. You'll likely regain the weight after you go back to eating normally.

You also may have headaches and feel fatigued during this detox plan. Overall, you probably won’t feel very good.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

If you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease, this is not the program for you. You need to find a program that you can stick with and that will help you manage your health.

If you have diabetes, this diet could be harmful. If you take diabetes medicine, your blood sugar could fall to dangerously low levels.

Before starting any strict diet program such as this, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure it’s right for you.

The Final Word

The Martha’s Vineyard Diet is not a healthy approach and may leave you worse off than before. Such a strict program will leave you frustrated. It will not deliver the long-term effects you’re looking for.

The only positive thing that the diet has going for it is the focus on vegetables. That’s an excellent strategy for getting your health in order.

But skip this plan and find another that focuses on lowering calories through a well-rounded diet and exercise program that works for you.

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