New York Presbyterian

FALL 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 9 SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m FA L L 2 014 S P I R I T O F W O M E N S H A R I N G H E A L T H S E C R E T S S h a r i n g Secrets HEALTH To send a health question to "Sharing Health Secrets," please e-mail plawrence@spiritofwomen.com or write to Sharing Health Secrets, Spirit of Women, 2424 North Federal Highway, Suite 100, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Cleansing diets, also called detox diets, are all the rage right now. Most cleanses require liquid meals of either smoothies, shakes or juice. Some are food-based, but the type of food is strictly regulat- ed either by type or portion size. Each cleanse has its own rules, and they can be quite complex. Dr. Richard L. Griffths, a surgeon with Holy Spirit Health System in Camp Hill, Pa., says people who try cleansing diets usually do it for one of two reasons: quick weight loss or a concern that the body has built up toxins that need to be purged. A: Q: Can a detox diet really help reset my digestive system, clear up my skin, or give me more energy? A: Maybe, says Dr. Griffths, but it probably won't be the specifc diet that helps. Instead, it may just be the effect of changing an unhealthy way of eat- ing. The claim that any eating regimen will purge the body of toxins has no medical or scientifc basis. The real truth about cleansing diets Everyone I know seems to be on a "cleansing" diet of some kind. What are they? A: Q: How about weight loss? My friend says she lost 10 pounds in two weeks! She probably did if she stuck with the diet that long, but that will happen because of dehydration and caloric restrictions, says Dr. Griffths. "The problem is when they come off the diet, that water weight will come back on," he explains. Q: A: Q: But are cleansing diets safe? Lesley Kendall, a registered dietitian at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Ind., worries about the negative health effects of a cleanse. "People think of a cleanse as a way to reset the body, but in fact, you're denying the body nutrients it needs to function," says Kendall. "Those ill effects you feel after the frst day or so—head- aches and fatigue—are not from the success of the cleanse, but from deprivation. Yes, you will adjust, but it's not right to adjust to a diet that isn't optimal." For the average healthy person, says Dr. Griffths, a cleanse is a relatively harmless exercise that won't hurt them all that much. But it's a bad idea for others, such as those who suffer from an undiagnosed kidney disease or a hidden heart condition. A: Q: So if a cleanse isn't the answer, what is? Improving your diet, says Kendall. It may not have the spectacular results of a short-term cleanse, but it has real, long-term health benefts. "Eat a lot of different fruits and vegetables, lean meats, yogurt, whole grains and drink plenty of water," says Kendall. "That's all the cleansing your body needs."

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