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    Archive for the ‘Master Cleanse’ Category

    In The News: Starstruck

    In an article titled “Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Food Advice Perfect for the Recession?” published in this week’s New York Magazine, writer Mark Adams preposterously hails “the Goopster” (my nickname for her, don’t you like it?) as some sort of nutrition visionary.

    “We’ve entered a moment in which it’s perfectly acceptable to talk, if not boast, about the purity of one’s digestive functions, as Diddy did when he recently Twittered minute-by-minute details of his “spiritual” 48-hour juice fast,” Adams states in his opening paragraph.

    I almost threw my copy of the magazine across the room after that sentence.

    If we are going to use “Diddy” — a record label executive with more flops than I care to count and bigger delusions of grandeur than your average reality show contestant — as a thermometer of nutrition trends and sensibility, we’re in trouble.

    Alas, let’s continue.

    Adams explains that that during the Great Depression, a man named Bernarr Macfadden launched a magazine titled Physical Culture, which published recipes along with health and fitness tips.

    Adams equates this to Gwyneth Paltrow’s health and wellness- oriented website, Goop.com, which is big on detoxing and cleansing (click here to read my impression of one of her recent postings).

    “Macfadden’s main idea—one echoed by Gwyneth, Diddy, and anyone who has completed a Blueprint or Master cleanse—was that an empty stomach is the path to detoxification and wellness.”

    This notion that empty stomachs are somehow virtuous sets up a horrendously disturbing slippery slope that leads right into eating disorders.

    “An empty stomach is the path to wellness” might as well be the mantra of someone living with anorexia nervosa.

    Again, why are we looking to Gwyneth Paltrow and Diddy for health advice? Are people that blinded by fame that they consider celebrities to somehow know the answers to everything?

    For that matter, Mr. Macfadden (who, in his defense, had some good ideas in terms of the virtues of whole grains) himself was a self-appointed nutrition expert (thus explaining his belief that 7-day fasts were healthy).

    “Many more people are going to lose their health insurance before anything approaching universal coverage gets passed. Meanwhile, we might all be better off if we literally tightened our belts and followed the stars for a while instead,” Adams feebly concludes.

    No, Mr. Adams. We shouldn’t follow the stars. We should simply use common sense. Cut back on processed junk, eat more fruits and vegetables, add whole grains to our diet, keep tabs on calories, and stop turning to celebrities for nutrition advice.


    In The News: Flushing Out The Facts

    Unfortunately, detox craziness isn’t limited to the United States.

    Over in Australia, these programs are also heavily promoted at the beginning of every year, hoping to empty out the wallets of gullible individuals high on New Year’s resolutions of weight loss and overall health.

    The Sydney Morning Herald briefly touches on them in a short article brilliantly titled “Put Down Detox Kit, Let Body Do Its Thing.”

    In it, one professor of complementary medicine at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology mentions that “there have been no robust clinical trials of any detox programs,” and thinks “detox is more sales pitch than science.”

    My kind of guy!

    Meanwhile, Simone Strasser, “a liver specialist and chairwoman of the Digestive Health Foundation, said the liver, kidneys and colon effectively converted toxic substances into harmless byproducts and flushed chemicals out through urination and sweating.”

    Music to my ears.


    Celebrity Diet Secrets: A Steaming Pile Of… Goop

    Last September, Gwyneth Paltrow launched a lifestyle and wellness website named Goop, which she describes as a “collection of experiences [of] what makes life good.”

    Well, wouldn’t you know it, in her latest newsletter, “Gwyn” talks about… detox diets!

    “I like to do fasts and detoxes a couple of times during the year, the most hardcore one being the Master Cleanse I did last spring,” she writes.

    Turns out the the A-lister’s detox specialist — who I refuse to name in this post since I do not want to promote him with yet another Google hit — told her the Master Cleanse wasn’t healthy because it doesn’t adequately meet the liver’s nutritional demands.

    Forget the liver, how about the fact that it simply doesn’t provide much of anything in the way of nutrition and that there is absolutely no reason to believe that lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper play any role in detoxing?

    I digress.

    Gwyneth then proceeds to share her own “detox-doctor approved” seven-day elimination diet to “help decrease the amount of work your digestive system has to do.”

    If it’s any consolation, she will “be suffering along with you to kickstart [her] year a bit lighter.”

    Before going into detail, she shares tips from her detox-doctor, including:

    “If your bowel movements get sluggish, you can accelerate things by drinking half a cup of castor oil or using a mild herbal laxative. Bowel elimination is paramount for correct detoxification.”

    Well, yes, bowel elimination is paramount to overall good health, as it is one of the body’s ways of removing waste material.

    That said, the castor oil and herbal laxative suggestions are ridiculous and, in my opinion, are tacked on in an attempt to make this detox plan seem special.

    Whatever happened to simply speeding up digestive transit by consuming a higher quantity of fiber-rich foods?

    Anyhow, you can see Gwyneth’s week-long detox plan here. Disturbingly, the average day barely adds up to 1,000 calories!

    For the record, “there can be no dairy, grains with gluten, meat, shellfish, anything processed (including all soy products), fatty nuts, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant), condiments, sugar and obviously no alcohol, caffeine or soda.”

    Which makes me wonder:

    * What are examples of non fatty nuts?
    * What about those four nightshade vegetables makes them detox “enemies”? I would just love to hear her “detox doctor” explain this one.
    * If sugar is banned for this plan, then why is the Master Cleanse — which calls for cups and cups of maple syrup (sugar!) — considered such a pinnacle of health?
    * If dairy is banned, why do some of Gwynth’s recipes call for whey protein powder?
    * If sugar is banned, why do some of Gwyneth’s recipes call for agave nectar?
    * If “anything processed” is banned, why is almond milk used in some recipes?

    Above all, why do celebrities with no health credentials think they are authorities on nutrition?

    Thank you to Kristin MacBride for passing along the newsletter link.


    Thud, Thud, Thud…

    Oh, don’t mind me. That’s the sound of my head hitting my desk repeatedly.

    Why? Oh, I just found out about the latest diet book making the Internet rounds — The Lemon Juice Diet.

    Really? Yes. Really.

    I’ll let the publisher’s description speak for itself.

    “Instead of just suggesting dieters drink a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne, and maple syrup, The Lemon Juice Diet starts there and then integrates lemon juice into a healthier, easy to maintain, long-term plan. Lemon is a natural powerhouse; its great flavor makes it an easy addition to your diet and its low glycemic index provides a steady stream of energy, without the sugar high and subsequent crash we get from high GI foods.”

    Oh, it gets better: “Lemon juice, when taken regularly first thing in the morning, acts as a tonic to the liver and stimulates it to produce bile making it ready to digest the day’s food.”

    Anyone else in favor of a 100-year moratorium on any diet plan that suggests any beverage that combines lemon juice with cayenne pepper?


    You Ask, I Answer: Health Consequences of Master Cleanse

    Amidst all my warnful cries, my coworker and two friends, like martyrs, trudged their way through Stanley Burrough’s ten day “cleanse”.

    One friend reported to me on day 9 that she almost fainted on the subway, and had to get off only to ensue in dry heaving on the platform.

    I naturally suggested she eat something, to which she declined. [She instead] went home to rest.

    She said she has 50+ bruises all over her body. I asked if she thought it had anything to do with the cleanse, and possibly being malnourished.

    What are your thoughts regarding this bruising issue, iron deficiencies, etc?

    — Brooke Green
    Brooklyn, NY


    I can’t say I’m too surprised that your co-worker felt nauseous and weak after subsisting on nothing but water, maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne peppers for 9 consecutive days. Who wouldn’t?

    Of course, the people who profit from the Master cleanse (none of which have any nutrition credentials, of course) claim that fainting is normal, simply a consequence of your body going through the “detox” process.

    No. Fainting is a consequence of your body not getting enough nourishment, plain and simple. If anyone tells you otherwise, run away. Fast.

    What’s truly disturbing about the Master Cleanse and similar “regimens” is that many people with a variety of health problems (i.e.: hypoglycemia, diabetes) go on it without ever consulting a physician or dietitian, thereby exacerbating their conditions.

    Even people in perfectly good health, for whatever reason, think that those four foods will perform some sort of magic on their internal organs.

    In any case, as I have explained before, the Master Cleanse is deficient in almost every nutrient, and the weight loss incurred from it is due to loss of water and muscle mass.

    Losing muscle mass and consuming such few calories results in metabolism slowing down, thereby making true weight loss even harder.

    There is absolutely nothing about the Master Cleanse that I find even remotely healthy, valid, or sane, and I can’t believe millions of people are being deluded by such quackery.

    However, as I have been learning with this blog, people will hold on to unsubstantiated nutrition ideas no matter how much evidence or reasoning you attempt to provide.

    As for her bruising, I don’t attribute it to the cleanse because iron-deficiency symptoms do not show up after 9 days of low iron consumption.

    If her iron intake has been low for several months, it very well may be coincidental timing.

    In any case, she should definitely get some bloodwork. The sooner, the better.


    Weekend Fun: Trying the Cleanse

    Here is a fun Memorial Day “bonus” video from the YouTube Small Bites Nutrition channel.

    Everything starts off as fun and games.

    That is, until I sip from my “Master Cleanse” glass…

    Watch the video here or enjoy it right below this sentence!


    You Ask, I Answer: Fasts/”Detox” Cleanses

    I’m getting into a rather heated argument here at work with my coworker who swears by Stanley Burrough’s Master Cleanse.

    He says it provides mental clarity and gets him “back on track” whilst cleaning out his system.

    Admittedly, I’ve tried it before and went off after the 5th day due to headaches, extreme bitchiness, etc, etc. I also felt like my tooth enamel was being eroded due to all the citric acid.

    I’ve read your blog entry on the topic, and was hoping you could go into more detail regarding liquid cleanses/fasts.

    When are they healthy? When are they not?

    Does cayenne pepper actually bind to the toxins/whatnot in your intestines and do anything beneficial?

    Does the master cleanse actually make your body go into a starvation mode? What are the side effects of this?

    Why is this “cleanse” still such a hot topic?! Why hasn’t it successfully been filed under crap to never try?

    Are there any REAL physiological benefits?? What about juice fasts??

    — Brooke Green
    Brooklyn, NY

    Great questions! Let’s take them one at a time.

    Fasts – of any kind – are not healthy in general.

    This is especially true if they fall below 1,200 calories, are all liquid, restrict you to a handful of foods or only one food group, or simply do not enable you to get enough nutrients.

    There is no logical reason, from a health standpoint, to go on a fast of any kind.

    Even if someone were on a steady diet of Doritos, ice cream, and soda for months and suddenly wanted to “start fresh”, all they would have to do is replace those foods with healthier ones.

    There is no need to stop eating or have only liquids in order to “cleanse” the body.

    When you consider that these fasts are deficient in practically every nutrient, it is ironic that it is often “health conscious” people who go on them.

    Cayenne pepper does not “bind” to toxins or perform any sort of miracle. If anyone tells you otherwise, direct them to the nearest bank so they can deposit a big, fat reality check.

    I suspect your co-worker isn’t experiencing the benefits of a “cleanse,” but rather the power of the placebo effect.

    We already have built-in “detoxing” organs, the kidneys and liver. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t urinate (one significant way in which we excrete, among other things, toxins).

    If you want to keep things moving through the digestive system and take away some stress from those organs, getting sufficient insoluble fiber and hydration are two important steps you can take.

    Many cleanses – including the Master Cleanse – cause your body to go into starvation mode.

    When you are on these “plans”, the majority of weight lost comes from water and muscle (so yes, you lose weight, but it is not permanent; even worse, your metabolism slows down, thereby slowing down your body’s calorie-burning rate.)

    The Master Cleanse always pops up as a “trendy” diet because people are thrilled with the idea of a quick fix. Also, scare tactics work.

    Many cleanse companies tell stories of “years of fecal matter” being stuck to your intestinal walls. Get rid of these, they say, and lose ten pounds in just days!

    Creative, but untrue.

    However, these “facts” often fester in people’s minds, enticing them to fork over money for these silly “fixes.”

    Juice fasts are just as unhealthy and useless. You are talking about no protein, no fat, no calcium, no zinc, etc.

    Remember, the different “food groups” offer specific nutrients. Fruits contain many vitamins, but they lack protein, heart-healthy fats, calcium, iron, etc, etc.

    Additionally, high intakes of fructose — the natural sugar in fruit — are linked with intestinal distress in many people. NOT fun.

    With that said, I fully and wholeheartedly recommend the Andy Bellatti cleanse.

    No pills, no powders, no counting carbs. Simply purge all ridiculous and unhealthy weight-loss tactics out of your mind. It’s a very refreshing experience!


    The Cleanse That Makes No Sense

    I have recently come across a number of people asking me about — or telling me they were on — the Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet, so I figured, “why not blog about it?”

    If you thought I was put off by proponents of food combining, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    It all begins with The Master Cleanser, published in 1976 by Stanley Burroughs, which should appear in the dictionary next to the word “hogwash”.

    Make that unhealthy hogwash.

    It simply consists of consuming nothing but an atrocious-sounding concoction of freshly squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup (oh, I’m sorry, Grade B maple syrup) and cayenne pepper six to twelve times a day for at least ten days.

    That’s right, the real hardcore cleansers are on this for up to 40 days!

    Sometimes, “laxative teas” are recommended as supplements, as is starting your morning off with a 32 ounce glass of lukewarm water and sea salt.

    Forget “Master Cleanse,” the real name should be “The Masochist Cleanse.”

    Proponents claims that this is the only way for your body to “detox” by releasing toxins stored in fat cells.

    The cleanse, they say, and particularly the cayenne pepper, “physically loosens” the impacted toxins in your colon that have been stuck to your intestinal walls for weeks… months… even years!

    Gasp! Shock! Eyeroll.

    Clearly, the proponents have never read about that wonderful machine known as the human body, which has two sets of organs (the kidneys and liver) for detoxifying purposes.

    The kidneys are responsible for the production of urine, which is basically the lump sum of all the waste and leftover junk from metabolic processes.

    There is no need to do any further detoxing.

    The best way to keep everything moving through your body is by consuming sufficient amounts of fiber and staying hydrated.

    This is, in essence, a very low calorie (and very disgusting) diet that adds up to roughly 1,000 calories a day.

    Proponents claim these three ingredients provide all the nutritional requirements.

    Really? The three ingredients offer no protein, monounsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, folate, B6, or B12, approximately two percent of the daily value of vitamins A, E, and K, and a measly quarter of a day’s worth of potassium, iron, and calcium.

    The only nutrient obtained at or above the daily requirement is manganese.

    Like with all other very low calorie diets, you can expect to gain the weight back when you begin ingesting solid food and consuming more than 1,000 calories.

    File this one under “unhealthy liquid fasts that should be banished from mainstream culture.”


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