Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body
"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
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
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
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 Nutrition 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."