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Cleansing diets are nothing new. As far back as Buddha, people have taken on fasting for spiritual reasons. The monastic community considers it an ascetic or dhutanga practice, meaning to invigorate.
The idea of cleansing one’s body for the sake of shedding pounds has increased, especially since the fashion revolution when Twiggy, the first female model to convey the desire for women to be skinny, influenced the fashion industry.
In 2009, Tyra Banks publicized one way for women to achieve a lower weight. The diet consisted of ingesting a tape worm so it can eat away the stomach, causing one to lose up to eight pounds a week.
Diets like this give the impression a woman will improve her body by participating; however, they can be extremely harmful, such as the Master Cleanse diet.
The Master Cleanse, a strict detox, is designed to flush out bodily toxins resulting in a more vivacious body and mind. The recipe consists of fresh lemon juice, rich maple syrup, ground cayenne pepper and water. However, this drink is the only thing that the dieter consumes for the seven-day time span of the detox, besides nightly laxatives. The whole purpose is to flush out almost everything in the body.
Senior Lauren Kearns tried the detox without taking any laxatives; she orginally thought she received positive results.
“After the first full day I woke up feeling so clean, like my whole body was so rejuvenated and bright,” Kearns said. “I guess cleansing all the bad things you eat out of your system really makes you feel better. It makes you wonder what goes in our food we eat.”
Kearns started the flush under the impression that it would energize her body, but little did Kearns know that the detox would not have a good effect on her system after all.
While on the diet “you are missing out on most nutrients, which leads to vitamin or mineral deficiencies,” said Janie Garrett, Columbia Public Schools nutritionist. “Lots of these diets may say that they will make you energized or detox your body, but your body already has normal things built in for detoxing elements and that’s your liver, your kidneys, and all of those are detoxing. … So you don’t really need to do a detox diet because your body already has that taken care of that.”
Luckily, Kearns did not go through with the whole program, stopping at day four with a craving for a burger. Not only was she physically noticing a necessity for more food, but she needed it for emotional reasons too.
“The last day [of the detox] I woke up just knowing that today would be the day I would fail. I woke up at 8 a.m. from hunger pains and couldn’t fall back asleep. I got up for the day, tried to drink another drink for breakfast, but my stomach hurt even worse after. But I kept on pushing on with my day,” Kearns said. “By noon my mood was just so awful, completely irritable and upset. My dad started to get ticked off with me so he made me a Panini sandwich, and I ate [it] faster than anything I’ve ever eaten.”
As many people know, the way and how much they eat can affect their moods. In fact, it has a direct correlation to serotonin chemical levels in one’s body.
According to www.interactivepsychiatry.net, the lower the serotonin levels, the more susceptible one will be to depression, anxiety and a lower sexual appetite.
“When we aren’t eating enough calories our bodies feel like its starving, and the blood sugars go low,” Garrett said. “Then you might be more irritable and a little bit more grouchy.”
Though Kearns’ detox wasn’t a good diet, there are healthy options for someone looking to rid the toxins in their body as well as a couple unhealthy pounds.
Senior Sarah Henzel has tried one particular detox four times and has received good results. The detox requires just fruits, vegetables, water and vitamins. Yet after five days of this, her body still has its difficulties.
“The first two days are really difficult depending on your eating habits beforehand because your body really craves sugar and junk honestly. So during this time it really sucks, and you don’t have much energy,” Henzel said. “But after the first few days, you feel so great and not weighed down by all the unhealthy food and I find myself much more alert and awake throughout the day and generally happier.”
There is a large difference between the two diets. According to Garrett, one deprives the body of nutrients and uses laxatives to flush everything out — even the ones the body needs. The other is an acceptable detox because a person receives nutrition through fruits and veggies and, if needed, can take extra supplements and vitamins; however, cleansing can still be dangerous.
“Make sure you don’t do [detoxes] past five days,” Henzel said. “I’ve done that once and it really wasn’t healthy because your body needs more.”
Garrett said, ultimately, the goal is to be healthy. The best way to do this is to understand how the body works all together rather than going for a crash diet or extreme detox.
“I think it depends on the person,” Henzel said. “You just have to be careful not to become extreme with them because that is when they can become harmful — just do them sparingly. It’s all about the moderation.”
By Sonya Francis