What is detoxification. Do Panchkarma or Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss? And for How long?
A few days back, Dharani sent a very interesting question . Here it goes.
Subject: Do detox diets work and for how long?
Message: Hi Nidhi, I am an ardent fan of your healthy lifestyle and follow your blog and advice. I love working out atleast 5 days in a week and eating normal food (not junk) in moderation. I dont believe in starving or in any diets meant to lose weight. Nowadays I see that most of my colleagues are shrinking in size dramatically because they either follow some detox diets like panchakarma and intermittent eating. Is this method good and is it really beneficial, especially for young women who plan pregnancy in 1-2 years? The amount of weight which these people lose is incredible and tempting. Please let us know your opinion.
Interesting question indeed. I know a few friends who tried panchkarma and got amazing results. I know people who tried intermittent fasting and benefited from it. Both of these detox are good just that they are not for life time. They cleanse our system and give way to the fats and impurities that were stuck in our body from ages of poor lifestyle habits. If we follow the program religiously then we can see immediate good results in our health, our skin, our digestive system etc. But later if we continue to barge our system with the same hackneyed lifestyle than that which was doomed is ought to come back .. Hmm, okay. Let me begin by explaining what detox is and why should we need it and who may benefit from it.
To understand the word detoxification. We first need to know what is pH(potential of hydrogen). pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is measured on a scale of 0-14-the lower the pH, the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH, the more alkaline the solution. When the solution is neither acidic nor basic then it has a pH if 7 and it is called neutral.
Every solution has a pH value for example Water has a pH value of 7 and it is neutral in nature.
We all are cellular organisms i.e cells are the basic building blocks of our body. Human body contains about 10 gallons of fluid so all these cells are swimming in an ocean of this fluid. This fluid is either acidic, alkaline or neutral in nature. We can also say that body’s blood condition can swing between acidic and alkaline at any time. But body’s system work best in an environment which is neutral or slightly alkaline.
How is detoxification associated with pH value of the blood?
Every food that we eat leave a residue behind which can be acidic or basic in nature. Basically when we do not eat right food or lead a very unhealthy lifestyle then our body’s pH becomes acidic due to the formation of toxins or free radicals. Detoxification is getting rid of the sludge or toxins that have built up over the years in the blood and the digestive system.
Detoxification is also the process of restoring our body’s pH balance to neutral. It is done by removing all the impurities from the blood and re-charging all the organs. Most importantly detoxification is the cleansing of liver. Liver is the place where all toxins sit for elimination through the large intestine.
Now we know the reason people go on ‘detox diets’ i.e to strengthen and cleanse the blood and organs. They eat food which helps with restoring the alkaline nature of the blood and avoid food that helps build up of sludge or toxins. for example, they will have lemon shots and vegetable juices and some specific food combinations like yogurt and strawberries to increase the pH and will stop smoking or eating heavy greasy food to stop the formation of free radicals and toxins.
How is detoxification associated to weight loss?
The reason we are asked to eat antioxidant rich food for weight loss is again detoxification as, these antioxidants nullify the effect of the acidic free radicals. These free radicals and toxins heavily disrupts our digestive system, blocks all the energy flow leading to weight gain or various other diseases.
Basically these free radicals can be formed in our body not just from the food that we eat bust also from the chemicals that we use in our daily lives. Like toothpastes, soaps, detergents, fancy fabrics etc. Also constant stress and strain from work and daily lifestyle cause free radicals formation. Those who are addicts of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, those who have been taking prescription medicines over a long period of time, those who suffer from ailments such as arthritis, rheumatism, chronic digestive problems, constipation, migraines, obesity, insomnia etc have a bundle of free radicals in their bodies. And these free radicals make our system acidic.
Now that we have understood detoxification and what causes the formation of free radicals in the body.. Let us understand what is panchakarma and how does it cleanse the body of these free radicals.
Panchakarma are basically 5 sets of ayurvedic treatments that are given over a period of 21 days. Every day you meet an ayurvedic doctor and he keeps a tab on your health. Ideally it has Therapy sessions, Oral Herbal medication,Ayurvedic diet (which will be decided by the doctor after consultation), Yoga and breathing sessions, Meditation, Any other activity you choose that does not contradict with the treatment such as taking a brisk walk in the forest surrounding our campus or taking a swim in the river.
The 5 phase process starts with massages with herbal oils to remove or loosen the toxins. Then there are different sessions for balancing the vatta, pitta, and kapha. Like vomiting therapy, laxatives therapy, nasal therapy, colon therapy. Essentially herbal concoctions are used to clear all the blocks.
back to Dharani’s question: If you think that your blood is acidic and your body needs cleansing. Like may be if you have consistent health problems or you feel irritated and tiered after workout instead of feeling fresh and rejuvenated. You feel there is no weight loss even after consistent efforts. Your skin, stomach and overall health do not feel good even after following a proper lifestyle. You realize that you have led a lot of stress and strain into your system. Then definitely go for such a cleansing process under a good ayurvedic practitioner. Do not do it with the intent of just weight loss. Rather, do it with the intent of cleansing and re regulating your system. So you do not want to start to follow it for all of your life. And do it only once in years. And then once you are done, you can thence focus maintaing a healthy lifestyle. More natural, more stress free
No harm doing it before you plan your pregnancy.
I am not very sure of intermittent fasting as of now but will find out and tell. I am always biased more towards natural ways.
Hope this helps
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