Detox Diets: Juice Up Your Health?
Fasting and "Cleansing" Not Necessary, Some Experts Say
Vegetarian Eating and Fasting
Richard DeAndrea, MD, ND, has developed a 21-day detox program.
During the first week, you follow a strict plant-based vegan diet -- no meat,
no dairy. The second week is raw fruits and vegetables only.
The third week, you're drinking fruit juices and special
smoothies some call "green sludge." According to his web site, the
smoothies contain a "superfood" supplement specially blended for
detoxification -- pulverized alfalfa, barley grass, algae, herbs, enzymes, and
But for purists like Chris Strychacz, PhD, a research
psychologist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, fasting
("water only") is the way to go. He's been fasting for at least 25
years now, an annual week-long ritual every spring.
Although there are no studies of juice-fasts diets, water
fasting does have some scientific evidence behind it, "but very scant,"
For some people, a detox diet might be a first step toward
healthier eating, says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of nutrition therapy at
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic
"If it means someone has decided to eat a vegetarian diet,
the benefit may be that they're consuming more fruits and vegetables than they
usually do, more plant-based foods," Moore tells WebMD. "But I wouldn't
consider that to be detoxification."
It's true that pesticides are stored in body fat. "But
there's no evidence that a detox regimen, which works on the GI
[gastrointestinal] tract, is going to do anything to get rid of those stored
pesticides," says Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, associate dean of the College
of Health and Human Sciences and professor of nutrition at Georgia State
University in Atlanta.
A healthy body needs no help ridding itself of toxins,
Rosenbloom tells WebMD. "There's no reason to do any kind of
detoxification. The toxins don't need to be forced out by some kind of fasting
or laxative or enema regimen."
In fact, some measures -- such as colonics -- "can actually
be dangerous, because you're introducing something foreign into your body that
could cause infection or perforation of your bowel," says Rosenbloom.
Also, detox diets aren't a great way to lose weight, she
explains. "All you lose is water weight." Stay on the diet too long,
and you could lose muscle mass rather than fat -- which will slow your
metabolism. That translates into no weight loss at all, she says.