Should You Spring Clean Your System With a Detox?

Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.

Calorie Counters want to know whether or not it is wise to cleanse the system with a detox diet. Here are a few of the readers’ favorite “Ask Mary Q+As” about spring cleaning.

Should I fast to prepare my system for a change?

Fasting is unnecessary. Your system does not need to prepare for change. In a fast lasting longer than a day or two, the body starts to breakdown some of its muscles and organs to generate fuel for the central nervous system. Because muscle is a major calorie burner, less muscle could lead to lowering overall calorie requirements, which could make it more difficult to lose weight in the future. And then, due to feast-or-famine thinking, food deprivation could lead to overeating when food becomes available again. Instead of fasting, it’s best to just go ahead and begin to eat a balanced diet of wholesome food at a lower calorie level.

How what are the pros and cons of colon cleansing?

Colonic cleansing is unnecessary because the body has systems to eliminate toxins. A diet with plenty of fiber and water – along with healthy habits – keeps the colon clean. I am not in favor of colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy for colon cleansing. Colon irrigation can upset the fluid balance in the colon, causing cramping, nausea and vomiting, and it can upset the balance of beneficial bacteria. The procedures have also resulted in bacterial infections and deadly perforations of the colon.

How can I cleanse the colon naturally with food?

Eat a high fiber diet and drink lots of water to cleanse the colon naturally. The highest fiber foods are bran cereals, whole grains, dried beans and lentils, leafy-textured greens, berries, dried fruit and, generally, all fruits and vegetables that have their skins and seeds intact. You can use a nutrition program such as Calorie Count to literally count the grams of fiber you eat. Before you make a change, count the grams of fiber you usually eat, and then gradually increase to 35 grams of fiber a day. Adjust your fiber intake over time to your personal responsiveness. If you develop gas, take BEANO natural food enzyme as directed on the package.

Are Slim-Fast shakes good for losing weight?

Slim-Fast has popularized a diet plan that has been clinically proven to promote weight loss, at least in the short run. The diet consists of one “sensible” meal, two Slim-Fast shakes, and three healthy snacks in a day. Slim-Fast’s meals-in-a-can are nutritionally sound and may be more balanced than a randomly chosen meal, but Slim-Fast meals are truly “mini” and so expect to feel hungry again very soon. Also consider that liquid diets do not provide opportunities to practice new lifestyle behaviors needed to maintain weight loss.

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