Fresh start the flavour of the month

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LifeStyle

Date

January 2, 2013

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Sarah Berry

Sarah Berry

Life Style reporter

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Visual treat ... nutrient-dense juices not only keep taste buds entertained, they look appealing, too.

Visual treat … nutrient-dense juices not only keep taste buds entertained, they look appealing, too.

FESTIVE obligations fulfilled, the chance for a fresh start is here.

Detoxes are the favoured formula for many in the new year. They are seen as a cure for celebratory congestion and act as a quick kick back to bodily balance and health.

A new survey by Hepatitis Australia has found about 70 per cent of people believe a detox diet or product can restore their body and liver’s health. This is despite the fact that going on a detox diet “is futile when it comes to liver health”.

Instead, it encourages a constant focus on health. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help optimise liver function and prevent liver damage,” it says.

A GP, Ginni Mansberg, is also critical of the quick fix of a cleanse. Her main frustration is the “pseudoscience” behind many detoxes and the often epic prices charged for the privilege.

“The concept of a detox is that your body is full of toxins . . . that your body can’t [process] on its own. It’s complete crap,” she says, pointing out that sweat, urine, faeces and the breath all work to rid the body of toxins.

That’s not to say cleansing is complete crap. Mansberg says there are three things that “are ubiquitous to detoxes and they’re really good”.

First, hydration. As little as 2 per cent dehydration is detrimental to our brain function, she says. “So more water is No. 1.”

Second is cutting alcohol intake. “Most of us drink too much, particularly in the merry season,” she says.

Third is eating fibrous foods, and the benefits that brings. As most detoxes encourage consuming a lot more fruit, vegetables and fibre, “that will have you pooping for Australia and [subsequently] means you have less bowel gas.”

Plus, a restart to the system can set you back on the path of relative virtue.

With longer-term lifestyle changes in mind, this is what to expect from three different detoxes:

EASY

It ought to be the easiest detox but losing the social lubricant of alcohol in the lead-up to Christmas proves a challenge. Also, a short shock of a detox seems more manageable than something sustained.

But sustainable is indeed the point, so I start an plan, called 10 Days to a Healthier You, created by Kathleen Alleaume, a nutritionist.

It’s as simple as it is sensible and she provides an eating plan with recipes including high-fibre fruit smoothies (psyllium husks and chia seeds blended with yoghurt, milk, cinnamon and frozen berries) and harissa lamb with a chickpea salad. It’s based on proven weight-loss principles of loading your plate with good greens and combining lean sources of protein with low glycemic index carbohydrates. There are free foods, including green vegetables, cherries and berries, and you can even enjoy a treat twice a week (100 millilitres of wine or a couple of squares of dark chocolate, for instance).

It’s helpful getting into the rhythm of portion sizes, which she provides. Alleaume also suggests five daily rituals for feeling healthier: hydrating to quench your thirst; “eating a rainbow” as “each colour carries its own set of unique, disease-fighting chemicals”; exercising for 30 minutes a day; chewing each mouthful 10 to 20 times to improve digestion; and getting eight hours’ sleep a night. Quality sleep, she says, resets your metabolism and “is essential for optimising appetite and controlling hormones.”

CHALLENGING

Lucky You juices are apparently Miranda Kerr’s tipple when she arrives in Australia. And if it’s good enough for Miranda . . .

The idea of a juice fast is to “shake the junk from the trunk”, says the founder of Lucky You, Heidy Jameel, who insists the fasts are not about deprivation, but rejuvenation.

The benefits, she says, are giving digestion a rest, rehydrating, alkalising and creating better eating habits. As a virgin cleanser, I start with a three-day program. You can also do five or seven days.

Lucky You  delivers cold-pressed juices (which retain more vitamins, minerals and enzymes than other juicing methods) to your door. The array of juices is visually appealing and the different flavours of nutrient-dense juice keep my tastebuds entertained. There’s even a sweet, protein-packed nut and date “mylk” to sip on “if you are feeling overly hungry or in need of something sweet”.

Chaste as I feel, by the end of day two I’m pretty over it and my colleagues taunt me with solid food. Jameel sends an email to touch base. If you feel “like things are unravelling . . . Don’t PANIC. This too is normal,” she says. She suggests taking 15 minutes to chill out.

By the time I’m done I do indeed feel cleaner, lighter and happier and continue with a lemon and warm water to start the day as well as vegetable juice later on to amp up my intake of greens.

It is something I’d happily do once or twice a year. While it’s on the expensive side, it’s a whole lot easier having someone else do the hard work so you can just sit back and . . . have a drink.

HARD

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared about having a plastic tube put up my bum and pumped with 20 to 30 litres of water.

But, when I read in Dr Bernard Jensen’s book Dr Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care that “the average person may have 10 to 25 pounds of dried fecal matter in their colon,” I was terrified.

I turn up not knowing what to expect, but Natalie Purcell, who runs Byron Bay Detox Retreats, makes a daunting process as decorous as possible.

I’m on another three-day juice fast, this time with a daily colonic. As juicing removes the fibre of the fruit and vegetables, making sure you eliminate is important.

She uses the FDA-approved and TGA-recognised open system. This means a smaller tube and gentle flushing rather than the forceful pumping of the “closed system”.

One problem with colonics is the removal of beneficial bacteria along with bad from the gut.

With up to 80 per cent of our immune system residing in the gut, a growing body of evidence reveals just how essential good bacteria is for health and metabolism as well as allergy and disease prevention. Purcell addresses this by reinoculating with probiotics.

After three days, I’m hungry but squeaky-clean and ridiculously relaxed. I have sparkly skin, clear eyes and a flat belly.

I’ll do it again and have taken much from the three programs on board. But I do have one word of advice. Remember that the purpose is to kick-start a cleaner you. If you’re going to bother doing a detox, try to refrain from rocking straight into a retox.


76 comments so far

  • Good to see that the detox article starts with the admission that there are no such things as toxins to detox from.
    So we’re left with a regimen of things that make you feel virtuous, with 2 out of 3 unlikely to harm the average person.
    Perhaps most dubious of these healthy moves is the notion that there 10 to 25 pounds of dried fecal matter in the colon. If only it were so, weight loss would be a simple matter of colonic irrigation. An average male in Australia could lose 10% or more of body weight in one … er … lavage. Since Dr Jensen was an entrepreneurial chiropractor who specialised in iridology, I would not place too much creedence in his colonic claims!

    Commenter
    Professor Rosseforp
    Location

    Date and time
    January 03, 2013, 9:04AM

    • Fools and their money are easily separated.

      Nothing new here (see ‘blood purifiers’ claims from the 19th century.)

      Drink more water, not expensive fruit juices. (they are full of sugars anyway. -The lighter happier feeling is probably sugar rush ;-D)
      Eat more vegetables with your food. In fact, eat the fruit too instead of juicing it.

      “Colour carries disease fighting chemicals”?
      No it doesn’t.
      Exercising, sleeping properly and chewing your food well is good advise, but please stop making things up.

      A cleaner you? Well, the wallet will be cleaner, that’s for sure..

      No harm in listening to nonsense? -Ask Steve Jobs…

      Commenter
      Angantyr
      Location

      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 11:37AM

  • Oh, and what’s “alkalising” – these alternative medicine clowns seem to use it to mean anything from acid to alkali.

    It’s seriously like someone discovered a year 7 science book with only half a page left.

    How about you fact check the people making these claims:

    1 * do any have a medical or science degree or any science beyond high school (and what mark did they get in the sciences). I’d lay money most of these people failed science did a weekend course in fake medicine terminology quack treatments in someone’s lounge room.

    2 * when they use a word (“alkalising”) ask them what that is and then go ask a doctor/scientist what it might mean.

    3 * “eating a rainbow” as “each colour carries its own set of unique, disease-fighting chemicals” – no, you should eat a balance based on the type, not the colour. “Disease fighting chemicals” – where to start.. you mean “basic nutrition” perhaps? And “chemicals” – sounds like someone just plucked another science sounding term to stave off any real questioning. What “chemicals” and what diseases? This is the base of dubious claims about fighting cancer quack treatments.

    4 * fact check claims like “10 to 25 pounds of dried fecal matter in their colon” or just think about it for more than 2 minutes – would it be “dried” when it is in the body and what is the colon (I presume they mean the whole of your intestines) for in the first place: oh, that’s right – for processing fecal matter! If there was dried fecal matter in your ears then it might be scary – but it’s like worrying there’s salt water in your tear ducts – THAT IS WHERE IT SHOULD BE.

    Commenter
    Nathan
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 03, 2013, 9:08AM

    • I couldn’t agree more! All of this crap that these “health scientists” are expounding is causing a lot of anxiety among the general population, it’s like a low, almost audible hum. And most of it is absolute rubbish. It feels like it’s just guilt loaded on guilt….mother guilt, health guilt, etc. There are already too many things to worry about in this world and if anyone else tries to come to me and say “only drinking juice for a week and having a hose shoved up your bum is the best way to be a good person and not die” I will punch them in the face.

      Commenter
      ezbot
      Location
      Earth
      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 10:19AM

    • While I actually take great exception to a few things in this article BECAUSE I have done my research, Nathan, I would like to point out that:
      1) There is a ton of research dating back to the 1930s (indeed research that won a Nobel Prize) that would back up the idea of understanding the effects of an acid versus an alkali diet and its effects on disease. It would really be worth investigating. If I tell you, you will dismiss it. Discoveries are best made on your own. While you do, please make sure you realise that much discovery and information is filtered by pharmaceutical companies who would rather you NOT be empowered about the power of food, but would prefer you get sick and take their drugs.
      2) See above: BTW I am very wary about the misinformation about alkalising! FWIW, There are many companies that abuse the truth and market it as detox. Eat lots of green leafies (and I mean lots) and that’s a great start.
      3) While i get that there is a great deal of cynicism (some of which i share) in your response, eating a rainbow is THE BEST PLACE TO START as long as it’s fresh food and not gatorade! Hehehe
      4) While faecal matter may not be dried completely, it could be. For a start, I would recommend looking up what happens to water in the colon. It gets removed from the colon and faeces. The longer the faecal matter is in there the ‘drier’ it gets. For most people this is not a problem and it can cause some degree of constipation. Heavily impacted faecal matter needs physical removal (ie after weeks of inability to defecate). This is THE time to get attention. Otherwise just visit the loo!

      Commenter
      Please go check your facts
      Location
      Buderim
      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 1:54PM

    • Ok I really feel the need to wade in here with my 2 cents worth on the whole acid-alkali diet thing. As a naturopath who started out with a pharmacology degree I hope both sides of the fence will appreciate my stance on this:
      Rather than talking about ‘acid and alkalising foods’ which the skeptics pronounce as ‘total rubbish’ let’s use words that people today can identify with ie free radicals and anti-oxidants.
      ‘Acidic’ foods are merely those who promote the production of free radicals (ie unpaired electrons thus unstable compounds that promote cell damage) such as chargrilled meats and certain fats. “Alkalising’ foods are merely ANTIOXIDANTS (such as leafy green veges) which mop up those free radicals and restore the balance. So in other words if we include plenty of leafy green veges in our diet we can prevent the damage caused by some other less virtuous aspects of our diets – not so wierd and hocus pocus after all is it? And there’s PLENTY of science to back up the health-promoting effects of antioxidants. Nuff said!

      Commenter
      sparky
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 1:58PM

    • A forensic examiner who was head of the forensic team at the Sydney Morgue once told me we all carried heaps of fecal matter in our colons that would be ‘washed’ through if we ate more fibre and drank more water. Colonic irrigation was the faster way, but not a weight loss trick and no point at all if you weren’t planning to ‘clean up your act’ from then on. I figure he might know it was true, given his qualifications.

      Commenter
      Liz S
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 2:22PM

    • Plenty of science?
      Not quite ’nuff said’ yet..
      Any pointers to studies you care to point to? Peer reviewed papers?

      Claims about antioxidants vastly exceed the science available.
      Cellular damage have been found together with oxidative chemicals.
      But oxidative chemicals can be released as a cause of cellular damage in order to trigger an immune response. Cause and effect?

      Benefits are plausible, for some conditions. -not proven.
      Eat veggies with you meal, of course. That’s common sense.
      Buying everything that says ‘Antioxidant’ on it, is not.

      Also note that the immune system uses some free radicals, others are used in neurotransmission.

      Before embarking on unproven actions, remember that there can always be unintended consequences. Especially when taking things to their extremes..

      Eat your lettuce. Have an apple. :-D

      Commenter
      Angantyr
      Location

      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 3:09PM

    • @sparky
      You have used the words”acidic” and “alkalising” in ways which I can not find in any biochemical textbooks, including those that I am a co-author of. However, I agree with your general premise – eating lots of fresh veges and fruit is a good idea.

      “And there’s PLENTY of science to back up the health-promoting effects of antioxidants.”

      Peer-reviewed examples are…?

      There is good science (a Cochrane meta-analysis of a number of clinical trials with around 300000 subjects) which shows that dietary supplementation with a number of antioxidants may lead to *increased* mortality.

      From its Abstract:

      “The current evidence does not support the use of antioxidant supplements in the general population or in patients with various diseases.”

      See: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD007176/antioxidant-supplements-for-prevention-of-mortality-in-healthy-participants-and-patients-with-various-diseases

      Commenter
      Dr Kiwi
      Location

      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 3:18PM

    • @ Angantyr
      I’m confused. You ask for research citations yet you make un-cited statements yourself.

      Commenter
      bleebs
      Location

      Date and time
      January 03, 2013, 3:26PM

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Article source: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/fresh-start-the-flavour-of-the-month-20130102-2c56y.html

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