In the last decade the planet has been overtaken by a new kind of green fever – a growing consciousness of the planet earth and the complex relationship we have with its diverse living organisms. Pesticides, battery chickens and animal testing are out; organic veggies, recycling and detoxing are in. There’s no doubt that sustainable and balanced living is a goal to work towards – but on the detoxing front, have we pushed it too far? While some swear by its health benefits, others feel the fad has gone overboard. Just what is the deal with detoxing?
‘Many medical professionals don’t think detoxing is necessary,” says dietician Tracy Morris. ‘The natural function of the liver is to flush toxins out of the body and it’s a highly effective organ, so on a physical level we don’t really need detox diets. On the other hand, some people value the mental and emotional effects of such a drastic food and lifestyle change – its helps them to get back on track.’
Advertising executive Grant Rightford is one such person. At the age of 49, after realising his weight was starting to affect his quality of life, he joined the Executive Wellness Centre, where he was introduced to the Lisa Raleigh weight loss approach and lost 16 kilograms and 60 centimetres around his girth in 12 weeks. The programme kicks off with a 12-day detox, which Grant believes was pivotal to the process.
‘Detoxing is something most guys steer clear of, but after 12 days of it I couldn’t believe how good I felt,’ he says. ‘It really motivated me to continue with the weight-loss programme and get to where I am now. I’ve changed my whole approach to food – I eat a balanced diet and snack on nuts and dried fruit instead of sweets. My energy levels are up, my stress levels are down and I have a whole new lease on life.’
The problem is that some detox regimes can be too extreme, cautions Tracy. ‘A programme that demands you have only fruit and vegetable juice for five days straight is not actually healthy. It’s high in sugar, slows down the metabolism and rule out nature’s own detoxifier: fibre.’
If you do decide to detox, adds Tracy, rather eliminate elements such as sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and processed foods. ‘Stick to foods as they appear in nature: eat a diet high in natural fibres – beans, lentils, fresh fruit and veg, grains, oats. Theoretically, this kind of diet is the perfect detox, because you’re getting rid of the junk.’ In fact, it’s not so much a detox as a healthier way of eating.