Jul 7, 2008

Who In A Bid To Lose Weight, Eat Raw Vegetables And Fruits

To detox or not is the question. naturopath and an allopath to get both sides of the story

Detox! That's the latest health fad the city junta is swearing by. Juice fasts, water-only diets, saltfree diets coupled with body massages, mud packs, steam baths, saunas and yoga are the rage these days. But, are these procedures safe, or for that matter even necessary?
"The human body has a built in detoxifier called the liver. The very function of the liver is to break down toxic substances, so that they get excreted. So, why do people need to go for a detox diet?" asks Dr M V Rao of Yashoda Hospitals. But Dr N R Nirmala Jyothi, a naturopathy and yogic science expert, prefers to differ, "Just as vehicles need regular overhaul to keep them in good condition, even human bodies need to go through a cleansing process on a regular basis. Diseases are caused by build up of toxins and 90 per cent of the cases that come to us are patients who have tried all sorts of medication and come to naturopathy as a final resort."

The common grouse about detox treatments is that they border on the extreme. Especially techniques like vamanakriya where the patient is made to drink large amounts of salt water in order to vomit, given enemas or made to go on rigorous fasts. "No treatment is prescribed without a thorough study of the patient. Most treatments have contraindications. For example vamanakriya is contraindicated in pregnant women, heart patients and hypertensive people. A qualified doctor studies the patients and prescribes the diet or treatment that he or she can withstand. It is not like the patients come and pick up a treatment of their choice!" rebuts Dr Jyothi.

But then it is difficult to stop people from picking up tips from those who have gone to some exotic detox spa. Even simple fads like drinking too much water to flush out toxins can have a fatal effect because along with the toxins vital salts are flushed out. "I get at least one patient in a week, mostly elderly, suffering from hyponatremia (low sodium in the body) because of the new fad where people are told to drink as much water as possible. People with sedentary lifestyles need to drink about 1.5 to 2 litres per day, but those who are into rigorous activity need more. The rule of thumb is to listen to your body. Drink water when you are thirsty, that suffices," says Dr Rao as he lists out the symptoms of hyponatremia that includes confusion, followed by drowsiness, fits, coma and even death.

Another disturbing trend in the city is the growing cases of obesity and Type II diabetes – from school children to adults. Both Dr Rao and Dr Jyothi confirm the trend and people’s inability to stick to healthy balanced diets.

"Instead of gorging on pizzas and fried food laden with transfatty acids that put a great load on the liver, why don't we go for a non-toxic regular balanced diet with the right amount of carbs, proteins and fresh vegetables and fruit?" questions Dr Rao bringing to the fore the ancient adage that prevention is better than cure. At the other end of the spectrum are young girls, who in a bid to lose weight, eat raw vegetables and fruits alone that they do not get the required protein for muscle growth at a stage when they need it the most, says Dr Rao.

Most detox diets have their roots in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science. Dr Jyothi tells us about the various diets and treatments for chronic gout, arthritis, asthma, kidney stones and other ailments that get cured with Ayurveda without the drastic side-effects associated with allopathy. Dr Rao too agrees that Ayurveda is an ancient science, but voices the need for conducting research and randomised studies to prove the efficacy of the medication that people swear by. Well this will take quite some time, meanwhile some treatments need to be taken with a pinch of salt!

I get at least one patient in a week, mostly elderly, suffering from hyponatremia (low sodium in the body) because of the new fad where people are told to drink as much water as possible.
Dr M V Rao
Toxic foods to avoid are all fried foods and fast foods.
The rule of thumb is to drink when you are thirsty.