Pick your detox diet

300_826792I’ve been investigating popular detox diets and cleanses recently, with the possibility of testing one (or a few) out for myself. These come in an array of varieties from which to choose, whatever your goal – to lose weight, flush out your colon or improve your energy levels. Apparently.

Although you can design your own detox, or find websites with “homemade” cleanses and detox diets, there are dozens of regimens and products for sale that purport to clear out the system. In fact, cleansing and organic supplements (mostly herbal-based cleanse and detox kits) are the fastest growing segment of herbal supplement sales, according to SPINS, a market research company. Here is a survey of the most popular, their claims, and advice from professionals who are quick to point out the downsides:

1. The Master Cleanse: a diet popularized by Peter Glickman in his book Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days. The cleanse involves drinking only lemonade made from lemon, maple syrup, water and Cayenne – for 10 to 45 days. Dietary deficiencies are an obvious downside, along with constipation and fatigue. According to Dr. Ed Zimney, the medical director of HealthTalk,”Your gastrointestinal tract does not need to be cleaned out because it is constantly in motion. This whole idea is a complete myth.”

693232. Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox: a 12-day plan that includes pills and elixirs made of a “Wild Rose Biliherb formula” to support the elimination of wastes from the digestive system. Participants  eat foods from a small list of “okayed items” like tofu and brown rice. At least you get to eat on this plan, but Afsoun Khalili, a clinic faculty member at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, warns about ingredients in the formula. Cascara sagrada bark may cause explosive diarrhea, red clover functions like estrogen in the body and licorice root should not be taken by anyone with high blood pressure.

3. Colonix: a fiber supplement that supposedly cleanses the colon of toxic build-up and prevents the digestive tract from becoming “clogged” with mucus and metabolic waste. By swelling and absorbing fluids, it breaks down and moves toxic matter stuck in the folds of the colon. Because the product is so high in fiber, participants who don’t stay well hydrated will suffer from extreme constipation and stomach cramps, and health forums are rife with complaints of severe headaches, stomach pain and bloating.

aqua_detox_after4. Aqua Detox: a program that requires buying an Aqua Detox footbath contraption, which is then filled with saltwater that a user soaks their feet in. As you soak, the water turns brown – according to the manufacturer, these are the “toxins” being excreted because of the contraption’s electrode waves interacting with the salt water. Mmhm. Several studies have shown that the water discoloration is due to rust produced from the metal electrodes, and Stephen Barrett, the founder of Quackwatch, calls Aqua Detox “medically worthless”

5. Inches Away: this one is only for those who want to go all-out with their detox.  Clients eat no solid food for three days and drinks only water with lemon juice and honey. The Inches Away folks say this cleanses the digestive tract of  waste and bacteria, cleans out major organs and blood, and provides mental clarity by stopping the mind’s bombardment by food additives. After three days, clients take four kinds of diet pills, up to 30 a day, and visit an Inches Away Diet Center for weekly body wraps. I don’t need to consult an expert on this one. I think it speaks for itself.


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