Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body
Set aside a weekend, it's time for spring cleaning -- more
accurately, spring cleansing --even though it is already summer. Perfect
for the procrastinators among us.
Spring cleansing means detoxifying your body, says Linda Page,
ND, PhD, a naturopathic doctor, lecturer, and author of the book
It's a way to recharge, rejuvenate, and renew, says Page.
"Anybody can benefit from a cleansing. The body is coming out of what might
be called hibernation. It's a way you can jump-start your body for a more
active life, a healthier life."
There's no vacuum or mop needed for this little
"housekeeping" ritual. It means drinking juice -- a whole lot of
juice and little else -- which pushes everything thing else out of your system,
Page tells WebMD. You get the picture. You're clearing out all the tubes and
pipes, as they say.
But to purists like Chris Strychacz, PhD, a research
psychologist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif., fasting
means "water only," he tells WebMD. He's been fasting for at least 25
years now, an annual weeklong ritual every spring.
"There's a big difference between fasting and dieting [as
Page advocates]," Strychacz says. The effects on the body are quit
different, he says.
Strychacz vividly remembers his first fast -- 17 days long.
"It was extraordinary, a mystical experience. I felt like I'd figured out
why Jesus and Plato and Socrates and Gandhi did it -- the clarity of thought,
Fasting indeed has a long-standing spiritual tradition.
"Almost every religion has some type of fasting ritual -- Lent, Ramadan,
Yom Kippur ... the Hindus and Buddhists fast, too," says James Dillard, MD,
assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons in New York City. He's author of Alternative Medicinefor Dummies.
"There's definitely a spiritual factor," Dillard tells
WebMD. But he's among the skeptics. "Whether [fasting diets] have any
physiological benefit, I'm not so sure."
A study of anthropology gives plenty of evidence, Page says. In
Chinese medicine, fasting is part of preventive health care. For many ancient
cultures, fasting helped people "lighten up" after a long winter, shed
the extra winter fat layer that provided warmth.
Our bodies naturally detoxify every day, Page tells WebMD.
"Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing
toxins through the colon, liver,
If you feel "congested" from too much food -- or the
wrong kinds of food -- you may want to detoxify, she says. If your energy level
is low, if you have been taking many medications that have not been eliminated from your
system, a weekend detox may help you feel better.
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."