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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Nutrition Experts denounce Detox Diets

"Detox" diets are an unhealthy way to lose weight after the holidays, experts say.

The controversial diets often involve fasting and avoiding food groups to cleanse the body of toxins as people try to lose several kilograms in a short time.

Christchurch public health nutritionist Bronwen King said most people went on detox diets because they had been overeating.

"They've been eating too much and drinking too much and feel they've got to do something about it."

However, extreme detox diets were "one of the worst things you can do to your body", she said.

"If you take in very few kilojoules, the body adapts by getting by on less. When more food comes on board, the body puts it away into fat stores because it doesn't know when you are going to starve it again."

Most of the weight lost when people went on detox diets was water.

A better way to lose weight was to eat sensibly and be active, King said.

"I'd advise people to enjoy good healthy food, but people want quick fixes," she said.

"They think they should do something drastic, but the drastic measures aren't the ones that are going to work long-term."

Dr Jane Elmslie, a registered dietitian at Otago University, said detox diets were nothing more than "a quick fix".

"My view is that at best detox diets ... represent a very temporary solution to the problem of Christmas weight gain," she said.

"They may be harmful in people who have diabetes or eating disorders and in growing children, teenagers, pregnant women and older adults.

"They are not safe for anyone as a long-term weight-loss strategy because they can cause electrolyte imbalances, muscle as well as fat loss and a reduction in metabolic rate," the dietitian said.
Source if story: Stuff
Gary comments:
I got into the detox business mainly because I had an upsurge of inquiries from people who had or were doing extreme detox diets, mainly the "Lemon Detox". They were seeking advice about how to alleviate problems with extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, heart palpitations and sleep problems that arose or got worse while on these diets.

My initial advice was to simply stop doing these stupid programmes; but my research into the matter and a number of nutrition courses attended over the last few years led me to think otherwise. "Maybe there are good detox programmes?" In fact there are and I settled on one that was has been developed by a NZ herbalist, Brett Elliot of Tauranga.

I have now had dozens of people complete Brett Elliot's Herbal Detox programme and the results have been impressive. The consistent result is people look much more healthy after completing the detox and issues like pain and fatigue definitely diminish or even disappear. Squishy belly bulges and hard liver under the ribs disappear. Some have been able to safely reduce or cease some or all of their medication for conditions like high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol.

Of course, there are many people who should not do this herbal detox programme. This is mostly to do with timing and commitment and there is little point in doing a detox if one is basically lean and healthy. If a person has an eating disorder then a detox programme is not for them that is for sure! If a person is on medication then it is advisable to consult the prescribing doctor before doing any kind of detox, simply because the elimination programme may reduce the uptake of the medicine.

Success is assured if the programme commences at a time when you know you have about three months of stability in terms of work, home and social life. There is little point in being halfway through the programme and then having a round of indulgent social events to mess it all up! Starting the programme after a round of indulgency is good psychological timing on the other hand.

Couples who do it together have better success because of the mutual support they give and not having to prepare special meals for one or the other.

The detox programme works in very well with the ICL Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and the Active Elements programmes. These provide longterm nutrition guidance and therapy. The Herbal Detox programme is used to clean out the system after which these longterm therapies can then kick in. This staged mix of therapies works very nicely in practice for most health issues. Brett Elliot has recently launched a Herbal Slim package that is worth looking at for those seeking safe, longterm weight management.

What I like about Brett Elliot's Herbal Detox programme is that is based around a vegetarian diet that uses all kinds of delicious New Zealand sourced foods. There are a number of protocols that you can follow that are outlined in the booklet that comes with the detox pack. The protocol I favour is the the 10 day detox: Short, sharp and over with in next to no time. There is a lead in period of several days, then you take the herbs full on for ten days and then its over! However; its not all over. Of course, it is nuts to go to all the trouble and expense of a detox programme and then slip right back into old unhealthy habits.

The detox programme is like a rite of passage: Once finished you are into a new beginning. The idea is to keep the basics of the new diet going while carefully adding in a little meat, eggs, fish and other sources of protein. Regular exercise, sunshine, fresh air, laughter, rest and relaxation complete the healthy new lifestyle.

So, while I agree somewhat with the experts quoted in the article above about the limitations of detox programmes, I feel they are exposing their own lack of practical grounding in nutrition. This sort of generalised bagging of a type of therapy that has been around for a very long time does nothing to promote health and wellbeing. They make my job all the more difficult by causing widespread confusion.

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