Barring extreme fasts like the Master Cleanse (a regimen restricted to a mixture of lemon juice, filtered water, organic maple syrup and cayenne pepper), do detox diets that include a balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fiber and lean protein work? We picked four different regimens you can try over the weekend and judge for yourself.
Detox the right way
restore your body’s natural balance
Although most doctors think they’re unnecessary and often unsafe, detox diets to eliminate harmful toxins from the body are still all the rage.
Marilyn Diamond, author of the seminal detox diet guide Fit for Life, says the most successful detox is one that provides plenty of nutrients.
“Your body cannot achieve balance or maintain health without them,” says Diamond. “So make detox a time to cleanse [and] build. Make it so enjoyable and effective you look forward to it, not dread it.”
A balanced diet detoxIn her latest book, Young for Life (April 2013), Diamond outlines a simple detox diet.
“You need four meals a day,” she says. They can be in any order, but she recommends you start with a whole grapefruit, peeled and sliced. “This will fill you up, cleanse the liver and gall bladder, and signal to the colon to start moving,”
About 90 minutes later, eat a Waldorf salad with chopped apples, chopped walnuts or pecans, celery and raisins, and toss in some blueberries, with a dressing made with one tablespoon almond butter, fresh lemon juice, and a little cinnamon and ground ginger thinned to a syrup with four tablespoons of water.
Meal three consists of a Southwest blended salad of greens, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, celery and spinach topped with a puree of yogurt, salsa and chopped avocado.
For dinner, have a fish fillet sauteed in butter (you need fat-soluble vitamins and omegas) with a chopped baby green salad made with chunks of mango, sliced strawberries or papaya, and avocado dressed with lime, olive oil and a dash of cayenne pepper.
Diamond recommends drinking peppermint green tea throughout the day to promote fat loss and gut health. Supplements that support the Young for Life diet are vitamins D and B-complex in the morning to keep your mood boosted and preserve muscle mass, and vitamins C and E throughout the day for their natural and powerful detox properties.
A probiotic detoxAnna Luque, nutritionist and author of The Yogurt Diet, explains that to get the body back in balance, it’s important to know how the body gets out of balance in the first place.
“There are various causes and they don’t happen from one day to the next. This is a slow process encouraged by processed foods, antibiotics, chlorinated water and stress,” she explains. “All systems in the body are constantly at work, which causes deterioration, so they need to be replenished with nutrients that are found in wholesome foods in order to regenerate and keep working optimally.”
To restore balance, Luque suggests you eliminate all foods that may be harmful to the body, causing inflammation. They include processed foods, wheat, sugar, vinegar and pasteurized milk. Instead, include foods that replenish the systems in the body, specifically the gastrointestinal tract. This means consuming plenty of yogurt, which should not be categorized with other dairy products such as pasteurized milk.
“The most important characteristic of yogurt is that it’s full of probiotic bacteria, which is imperative for proper digestion and ultimate health,” she observes.
Luque recommends eating four to five ounces of whole-milk Greek yogurt with live probiotic bacteria three times a day, before or after a balanced meal or as a snack.
Tea and sympathyIf you can’t stomach juice and liquid-only fasts, which can leave you feeling weak and unable to function, try I.Am.You.Studio’s DETOX to RETOX herbal tea and whole foods-based cleanse. During the yoga studio’s three-day program, participants drink three glasses of custom-blended Chinese herbal tea a day and follow a menu plan (which they prepare at home) that’s full of whole grains and legumes (quinoa, kidney beans), leafy and cruciferous vegetables (kale, cauliflower, beets, asparagus) and fish (salmon, tuna or white fish). Menu options are available for vegetarians and vegans.
Reportedly, 85 percent of DETOX to RETOX participants lose weight and keep it off, and 77 percent have increased energy.
Organic juices and raw foodOrganic Avenue has numerous locations in the New York City area and offers several levels of LOVE (Live, Organic, Vegan, Experience) cleansing. With its alkaline-balancing, detoxifying menu of live, raw and vegan food and cold-pressed organic juices, LOVE Easy is ideal for newbie detox dieters and for those who find liquid-only cleanses too limiting.
Each morning of the cleanse (a three-day minimum is recommended for first-timers), you are emailed affirmations like "I am happy, I am joyous, I am free,” with instructions on when to consume the sequence numbered on each container of organic juices and raw foods. Surprisingly flavorful sample menu items include creamy coconut milk, kale salad with creamy almond dressing and a raw chocolate mousse.
Detoxers are encouraged to chew their juices, and in between each nutritional beverage and live food item, participants can drink eight ounces of water. They are also encouraged to go to bed earlier.