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Times of India
19 May 2010
By Kalyani Sardesai
Pune, India

I These diets, nutritionists say, can work if they are a part of the solution. But in the long–run there is no substitute for a balanced diet and exercise plan

Detoxification diets are supposed to put the spring back in your step, help shift stubborn weight–loss plateaus, rev up your metabolism and improve your digestion with glowing skin and silky hair thrown in. That is, if you get past the initial sense of deprivation.

A detox diet removes environmental and dietary toxins from the body is a big hit with celebrities who then rave about what it has done for their movie–star looks.

“Detox diets flush your body of toxins accumulated over a period of time due to increasingly stressful and hectic lifestyles and pollution,” said nutritionist and dietician Ketaki Chaudhari. “Beginning with two days of a pure liquid diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, the diet gradually goes to the next phase which includes semi–solid multi–grains and then the next level which finally allows you solid food. Done step–by–step, the programme will not boomerang by making you put the weight back on once you resume your regular meals,” she added.

While the period of the detox could vary from three days to a week, 15 days to a month, the list of banned items is wheat and wheat products, milk and milk products, oil, fat, sugar, junk food, nonvegetarian fare, tea and coffee. What is recommended is fruit and vegetable juices, flax seeds, multi–vitamin pills, softboiled rice and multi–grains, green tea and hot water.

Fortynine–year–old cardiologist Archana Sathe who has been on the programme twice for fifteen days each said that the benefits were visible straight away. “The first two days were challenging as only liquids were allowed, but I was able to carry on with all my routine activities. The rationale behind initiating the programme with liquids is to generate more urine to flush out the toxins. Initially, one can feel a little nauseated, but that’s about all,” she said.

In a couple of days the body gets used to the new regime, and gradually semisolids and solids are introduced. “However, to counter the feeling of fatigue, multi–vitamin and iron pills are needed,” said Sathe.

Twentysix–year–old Tasneem Quereshi said she had lost about 5 kgs in fifteen days. But the detox diet puts your metabolism on a high for the next three months. It improved my health considerably,” she said.

It was not easy. One has to shop for the appropriate food items and plan one’s day meticulously. Plus, if you are working, you need to carry a lot of parcels with you. But if you are single–minded about it, you can go through the diet successfully.”

On the other hand, a fifty–something retired defence officer quit in a day. “I wanted to lose weight, but somehow a detox diet did not do the trick for me. I am pretty active and I need balanced meals to be able to sustain throughout the day. I cut back on the alcohol, said no to rice at night, bid goodbye to endless social engagements for a month or two—and I lost four kg,” he said.

Nutritionist Varsha Vaze points out, “Contrary to popular perceptions, and despite the long list of dos and don’ts, detox diets are not extreme. Care is taken to include various vital ingredients that are good for health. Weight loss is a subsidiary benefit. The focus is overall health. But detox diets every now and then are not a substitute for a long–term healthy eating plan.”

Chaudhari adds, “Detox diets are recommended for those between 20 to 60 years of age. However, they are not prescribed for those with diabetes and two or more ailments.”

Detox diets help cleanse the body
Why go on a detox diet
Many chemicals are ingested through food, water, and air. These get deposited in the fat cells. A diet that lacks nutrients may impair our natural ability to detoxify chemicals. The cumulative load, called the ‘body burden’, can lead to illness, hormonal imbalance, impaired immune function, nutritional deficiency, and an inefficient metabolism. The signs may include indigestion, bad breath, fatigue, poor skin, and muscle pain.

Who should not try
Consult a qualified health professional and/or a medical doctor first. It is not to be tried by pregnant or nursing women or children, people with anemia, eating disorder, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, terminal illness, certain genetic diseases.

Watch out for
Side effects like headache in the first few days, excessive diarrhea, constipation, tiredness, irritability, acne, weight loss, and hunger.

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