Detox Cleanse: Safe or Dangerous?

Do liquid diets really work?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Celebs have done it.  Non-celebs have done it too. No meat, no sweets, no booze, no caffeine: Cleansing or detox diets.

    A liquid diet, it's made up of maple syrup, lemon juice, a bit of cayenne pepper and water -- which is essentially all you drink for ten days.

    “The purpose of the detoxification is to get out the toxins and other substances that make people tired, old irritable, unhappy and not function well and zap their energy,” said Peter Glickman in a Florida interview.

    He writes about the Master Cleanse in his book, "Lose Weight, Have More Energy, and Be Happier in Ten Days."

    “I lost 23 pounds and had just unbelievable energy,” Glickman said. 

    But not everyone agrees there is a lot of benefit.

     “When we look to find the toxins in the blood or colon, we can't find them, they're not really there, so it's a little tough. You're trying to remove something that's not there,” said Doctor Ken Fujioka, the Medical Director of the Scripps Center for Weight Management.

    He said our kidneys and liver do the job of removing toxins. As for weight loss, he said it's mostly water weight loss.  Not a lot of benefit, he said, but with the simple cleanses, there’s not a lot of harm either.

    “If somebody is healthy, they're doing it for three days or less and they're getting adequate fluid and in particular adequate calories, they're probably going to be okay,” said Fujioka.

    But he does warn against hard core cleanses that he said can be dangerous.

    “There are caffeine enemas or coffee enemas, different things that are stimulants to the bowel, so they’re trying to move things along,” Fujioka said.

    “More than that, with all the clients I’ve had, what I've found is that mentally something kicks into gear. They figure something out,” said John Lenz, a fitness professional and health adviser who said his cleanse diet is about jumpstarting a lifestyle change, not about losing weight. 

    He said people become aware of their emotions around food, their eating habits.

    The diets are made up of a vegetable juice, one you drink for breakfast, one for lunch. Dinner is protein -- maybe a piece of fish and steamed vegetables, so you are not starving your body, risking the loss of muscle.

    Doing something hard can lead to change, he said.

    “Bottom line is it's a lifestyle thing, you have to learn how to eat right,” Lenz said. “If it means to go through a cleanse to jump start that, then do it, it might help you.”
     

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