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Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body.

Juice Up Your Health

What You Can Expect

While a "water only" fast is pretty straightforward, Page's cleansing is a bit more involved.

The diet starts on Friday night with a green salad, but Saturday's menu shows you what's really in store: Breakfast starts with plenty of vitamin C, then take your choice of fruit juices. "Because of its high water content, fruit will flush you through much quicker," she says. "Green things give energy, but sugars will wash the system easier."

"You're going to be drinking something every 90 minutes to two hours, so you won't feel deprived or hungry," Page tells WebMD. "As your body gets lighter and lighter through the weekend, you can feel what's going on. You're getting rid of toxins accumulated during the winter. Your body is starting to release fat, those extra pounds."

Dinner? That's miso soup with some chopped sea vegetables (like the Japanese nori, used to make sushi) snipped over top. Or you might choose a cup of brown rice with a few chopped vegetables mixed in. "Brown rice gives your body plenty of B vitamins, which is a stress reducer. It's very high fiber, will fill you up, will help you sleep, and will flush you out in the morning."

She also advocates "cleansing boosters," including herbal laxatives, colonics, probiotics (that replenish healthy bacteria), and antioxidants. Relaxation techniques -- massage therapy, sauna, aromatherapy baths, deep breathing exercises, walking -- help round-out the cleanse.

 

But Does Detox Really Remove Toxins?

In evaluating Page's detox diet, Dillard says, "Certainly, the human body carries huge loads of petrochemicals. We know people usually die with the full burden of PCBs they've ever been exposed to -- from fish, animals -- stuck in their liver. DDT sticks around, too."

But can fasting remove these? "Theoretically, yes," he says. "When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too -- should, that is," Dillard tells WebMD.

Although there are no studies of juice fasts/diets, water fasting does have some scientific evidence behind it -- "but very scant," admits Strychacz.

In the book Triumph Over Disease, Jack Goldstein, DPM, outlines his true story in overcoming ulcerative colitis by sticking to strict water fasting and a vegetarian diet. Goldstein is one of very few people who has tested his own tongue scrapings, urine, feces, even perspiration during a water fast, Strychacz says. "He found that the contents [during a fast] are different than normal -- that toxins like DDT do get removed."

Strychacz would like to conduct a study of fasting's effects on atherosclerosis. "Look at Dean Ornish's low-fat diet. He claims not only to arrest but actually reverse atherosclerosis. That's huge. I would argue that if a low-fat diet will reverse it, then what about a no-fat diet?"

Some still consider fasting -- in any form -- to be "out there." "When I review diets that are not based on science, the question I ask myself is: Would I feed them to my family? In this case, the answer is a clear no," says Susan Roberts, PhD, chief of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Research Center on Aging and a professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.

But the psychological or spiritual effect can't be discounted, says Dillard. "People love the idea of cleansing, of purification rituals, going to the Ganges, to the spa. It has powerful psychological, religious, spiritual meaning. That has its own positive effect on health. But we need to separate that from saying this is science or good medicine."

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