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Re: Question for those of you who have researched MC
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Published: 19 years ago
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This is a reply to # 225,369

Re: Question for those of you who have researched MC

“Dietitians have been fighting the misconceptions surrounding detox diets for years and say that not only are the diets ineffective but they can also be dangerous.”

I agree, detox diets and fasting can be risky, but they aren’t always so for all people. You have to take into account many factors, how healthy you are, how fit you are, how much unhealthy living you have accumulated, what the fast/cleansing diet is comprised of, what your lifestyle is. This program is working for me, as a busy mom, because it has calories and minerals, I’m keeping my energy up. A water only fast would never have worked for me.

“Dr Ferraretto sees a dozen people a year after Christmas who have been on detox diets and says that while increasing fruit and vegetable intake is desirable for most people,
short-term diets will not affect long-term health.”

Agreed. Any detox diet is useless if it isn’t followed up by a lifestyle change.

“"I recently saw a woman, she was in her 30s ,and wanted to lose weight and started on a restricted diet of fruit and vegetables. When she came to me, saying that the diet was not working, she displayed the classic symptoms: tiredness and lethargy, constipation and bad breath."

NOT true!! Fruits and veggies do not cause bad breath. When I’m fully veggie, I can smell my meat-eating husband coming, but my own body, breath and stools take on a mild, fairly sweet smell. As soon as I begin eating meat again, I can smell my own breath, body and stools. I have had episodes during this fast of bad breath, only on detox days.

”But Ferraretto says while these are relatively mild symptoms, if a diet involves restricted food intake over a long period more serious conditions can develop, varying from bowel and respiratory problems to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”

They don’t define “restricted food intake.” I know people who live on an all raw fruits/vegetables diet with a little overt fat in the form of nuts or avocado, and do very well. Some people define that as a restricted diet. I’ve done very well on a low-fat cooked vegan diet, and some people would define that as a restricted diet.

“However, recent US trials of detox plans at the University of Southern California found that none of the prominent detox diets, including a version of the popular liver-cleansing diet and the fruit-juice diet, lived up to the claims that they would purge environmental toxins over and above what the body does naturally.”

More information is needed here. How long were the “trials” conducted? What diet did the participants practice before and after the trials? What clinical tests were used to determine the efficacy of the “trial?” The body can detox without a detox diet, if one is consuming a very clean diet, but not so well if otherwise, and long-term success of the detox does depend upon what you do after the detox. I know for a fact that I have had significant days of detoxing during my now 29 day run here.

“Lowering energy consumption slows down metabolism and reducing or eliminating protein, found in meat and fish, can slow the function of the liver.”

The arguments here and in the preceding paragraphs of the article assume the detox diet requires lowered energy consumption. That isn’t always the case in detox dieting. Further, the dietician consultant assumes that meat and fish are necessary to human health, that is absolutely not true. I’ll defend anyone’s right to eat meat and fish, but it isn’t a necessary ingredient of human diet. If this person is wrong on this count, which I believe she is, then the rest of what she has to say is questionable at best, IMO.

“The physical symptoms of a fast can include headaches, constipation and bad breath - a result of your body burning muscle.”

No studies are quoted here to “prove” that burning muscle is the cause of the bad breath. I doubt that my bad breath on day three was due to burning muscle, since I had more than enough body fat to burn for energy. The body goes after excess body fat first during restricted eating. Muscle is one of the last things the body will go after for fuel.

“Many advocates of detoxification diets believe these symptoms are signs that the body is detoxing, purging itself of poisons - a theory Collins refutes.”

Refutes, yes, but on what basis? Again, what studies? If I wasn’t having detox and was merely burning muscle, then why, at about day eight, did I have significant kidney pain, strong thenar muscle pain (a kidney point on the palm of the hand) and physically HOT urine?

“Collins says the most extreme example of a spiritual detox in Australia is the now infamous Breatharian diet, where a Brisbane woman died after a week of "consuming" nothing but air.”

No one in their right mind would call breatharianism a detox diet. This is an extreme group that advocates breath only as a lifestyle, not as a detox diet. Obviously, this one won’t work. This woman consumed nothing, not even water. It is sensationalism to include this case in an article such as this, sensationalism that seeks only to prove a point.

“People who fast for prolonged periods also face a higher risk of what Collins calls the "refeeding syndrome". "If you have fasting for a long period of time, you can't start eating normally because your cell content is disturbed. If you try and ingest huge amounts of calories you can die," Collins says.”

Trying to ingest “huge” amounts of calories under any circumstances is unwise and unhealthy. Duh.

“Ferraretto agrees with Collins that the psychology of a detox diet can appeal to people who are already vulnerable to control issues surrounding food, and that when taken to the extreme - such as in the case of the Breatharian diet - detox diets can become eating disorders.”

I’d agree with that. But in this case, folks aren’t using it as a detox diet, that’s a whole other can of worms. You can’t discredit detox diets because people misuse them any more than you can discredit the automobile because some people get behind the wheel drunk.

“Earlier this year Ferraretto treated a 15-year-old girl who started on a detox diet of fruit and vegetables but, after the two-week period of the diet was up, found herself unable to go back to eating normal food. By the time she saw Ferraretto, she was exhibiting the physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa, had vitamin deficiencies, couldn't concentrate at school and her hair had started to fall out. "She was already vulnerable, and was prescribed this diet by a natural medicine practitioner," Ferraretto says.”

Again, there are many people on fruit/vegetable diets who do very well. This child was, no doubt, severely restricting her caloric intake, and likely had little body fat, if any, to lose. They don’t say how long it was before she saw Ferraretto, but two weeks won’t begin to produce the symptoms this kid presented.

“Trent Watson is a nutritionist from the University of Newcastle studying the effects of anti-oxidants on the performance of athletes. "A fruit and vegetable binge will fill your body with anti-oxidants, but how much good that is going to do you is very questionable," Watson says.”

These are stupid arguments that are meaningless. A fruit and vegetable binge is meaningless if your overall lifestyle is Standard American Diet with other forms of unhealthy living.

“Ferraretto claims that people need to understand that food is not going to detoxify the body and should stop seeking answers in ready-made solutions. "Many of the claims made by the now famous liver-cleansing diet are fairly unsubstantiated," she says. "Your liver, like the rest of your body, does its job best when you are eating a balanced diet, including carbohydratesand protein."”

Right, the diet doesn’t detox the body, the body detoxes the body. But how can the liver efficiently do that cleansing job if it’s still being stressed by the current diet? I suspect that I could have detoxed by cleaning up my diet alone, but I suspect it would have taken longer to accomplish what I have thus far, and, for me, using the detox diet has totally freed me from food habits that would have been hard to avoid during a transitional time of changing what I’m eating.

“Collins says the celebrity status of many detox diets - such as the orange food diet and the raw food diet - create misconceptions that many foods such as meat and dairy are loaded with toxins. For many people, it is easy to believe that "toxins" are responsible for feeling sluggish or for being overweight.”

Meat and dairy CAN be loaded with toxins. Dr. John McDougall ( has written extensively about this. Dr. McDougall has over twenty years of research and clinical practice under his belt, and has shown that environmental toxins will far more readily settle in animal fat than in vegetation.

"Our food supply in the Western world is quite safe.”

No, not all of it is.

“"Most detoxifying diets rest on the myth that you are somehow flushing the system, and you have to wonder why people feel the need to do that. "While the minerals and vitamins in fruit and vegetables are undeniably good for you, they cannot do a better job of cleansing the system than your liver and your kidneys."”

This demonstrates the misconception that we somehow believe the detox diet is detoxing our bodies. We know it is not, it is simply creating an atmosphere in which the body can more efficiently do its work.

“"People are bored with the concept of a balanced diet, but so far it is the only one that has been shown to make a real impact on long-term health," he says. "Nutrition isn't rocket science."”

No, people are not bored with the concept of a balanced diet, people are sick and tired of being sick and tired!!

This type of “journalism” is irresponsible. It pulls out isolated reports and opinions and uses them as “data” to make a point.

Can detox be dangerous? Sure, if not executed with wisdom and discernment, or if it is used for purposes for which it is not designed. Will detox diets fix everything? Hardly, and again, that’s an issue of common sense.

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