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Today we’re deep in detox mode, sharing our ideas for how to cleanse your body, home, and spirit this spring. But what about the major detox diets you’ve seen on bookstore shelves and celebrity mags?  Are they part of a healthy spring cleaning process, or are they unhealthy or even dangerous?

Much has been said–and re-said–in the media about this (and the debate really underscores the importance of doing any kind of cleanse under the supervision of a professional). I wanted to share this radio clip from The Brian Lehrer Show on NPR (listen below) because I think it raises some of the major “con” points about the health and usefulness of detoxing.  Brian’s guest Lisa Sasson (a dietitian and professor of nutrition at NYU) is not a fan of diets like The Master Cleanse. Her points, which I hope you’ll weigh in on:

  • Cleanses that involve ingesting few calories for days on end can send your body into ketosis, a kind of shock where you burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In its extreme form, ketosis can lead to kidney stones and organ failures.

  • The premise that your GI tract needs a rest from functioning for a week or more a year is as absurd as suggesting that your heart needs to rest by not beating for a week a year.
  • The kidney and liver are how our bodies are meant to cleanse themselves. You can supplement that by eating multi-colored fresh fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, which cleanse the body by fighting free radicals that come in via chemical pollutants that we can’t avoid in the modern world. But the suggestion that depriving your body of nutrition so it can cleanse itself is not nutritionally sound.

Here’s the radio clip:

 

What’s your take?  Do you swear by The Master Cleanse, or a similar program? Have you found a “middle way” cleanse that detoxifies but avoids the concerns outlined above?  Or is cleansing more a metaphorical process in your life?

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