In part, it's a philosophical difference between East and West. There's a strong tradition of fasting for spiritual purposes in the East, and even in the West (think about Jesus going into the desert for 40 days. He didn't pack a cooler!) In general, the spa world is more open to Eastern ideas and traditional or "folk" medicine like Ayurveda. People open to detox are more likely to believe in alternative or complementary medicine and their own personal experience. There doesn't have to be a definite article in a medical journal in order to believe something works.
The Idea Behind Detox
The idea behind detox or juice fasting is to give the body's digestive system a rest and to eat simple foods for anywhere from one to 21 days, depending on the program. This is different from a "diet" where you might eat the same foods you usually eat, like steak and salad, just in smaller quantities and counting calories to lose weight.
Although it's true that our bodies are designed to detoxify naturally through organs like the liver, kidney and digestive system, detox advocates say these organs are overburdened because of the large amounts of harmful chemicals in the modern environment. These include things we have some control over, like our choice in food and what we put on our skin, and some we don't, like the air we breathe. Preservatives, smoking, and household cleaning products are all sources of contaminants.
What A Detox Can Do
A healthy detox or juice fasting program can work quickly to flush toxins that have accumulated in the body, according to detox advocates like Debra Koerner, executive director of the Destination Spa Group, a group of 24 spas that offer an all-inclusive healthy spa experience. Destination spas are one of the safest places to detox, says Koerner. "Destination Spas have doctors, nutritionists and trainers on staff to walk people through every facet of a safe, effective and successful detox."
The benefits of detoxification, Koerner said, include weight loss, improved sleep, increased energy, improvement in cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and decreased hormonal symptoms seen with menopausal women.
But you don't have to make a trip to a detox spa to start the process. “Personally, I like fasting one day a week," says Yvonne Nienstadt, nutritionist at Rancho La Puerta. I use herb teas and vegetable potassium broth. Short fasts of one-three days will not harm essential tissues (lean muscle) and they use up the food still in the gut from the day before.”
Detox is also about making small lifestyle and diet enhancements. Koerner suggested you start by trying raw fruit and greens smoothies two times daily, for a week, and see how you feel. Toss in ¾ fruit and ¼ greens into you blender, add water and blend. You can also add whey protein to the smoothie.
To detox slowly, pick a habit to change, such as eliminating coffee, eating more organic food, especially green salads, vegetables and fresh fruit, and greening your beauty routine. When you're stabilized with one, move on to another one. Try to change two to four habits a year.
Tips For a Healthy Home Detox
Find out more about detox programs led by members of the Destination Spa Group by visiting the website or phoning 888-772-4363.