Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

To Detox or Not?

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It’s time for New Year’s resolutions again and diet, weight loss and fitness declarations will be made.  Here comes the season for detoxification diets to help us clear out the ravages of holiday eating and parties. But before you race to the health food store, you may want to realize that they may not be necessary after all.

Where did the idea of detoxification come from?

Though the first-ever instance of detoxing hasn’t been pinpointed in history, many historians attribute detoxification diets to Ayurveda. Ayurveda, meaning “The Science of Life,” is the practice of natural medicine that originated in India at around 3500 BC. One of the disciplines in Ayurveda is pancha karma, which includes progressively eliminating certain foods from the diet, taking spiritual walks, and cleaning out the colon and the nasal passage. The goal of pancha karma is to prolong life and prevent disease, and to spur spiritual and emotional growth.

The use of colon hydrotherapy was first recorded in 1500 BC by the Egyptians. It’s also been mentioned in a document titled “The Essene Gospel of Peace” written in the biblical times approximately 3,500 years ago. Here’s an excerpt: “…suffer the end of the stalk of the trailing gourd to enter your hinder parts, that the water may flow through all your bowels. . .Then let the water run out from your body, that it may carry away from within it all the unclean and evil-smelling things.

Some simple and safe “detox” techniques have been suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil who offers some sensible Ayurvedic advice.  These can include: massage therapy, yoga and meditation (based on some good evidence) to relieve stressors and promote a feeling of overall well-being. A goal to increase more healthy lifestyles and make some practical New Year’s Resolutions is a better idea than using unnecessary and expensive “detoxification” diets and sometimes unsafe practices like colonic irrigation.



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