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With the start of summer here many people start to think about getting in shape and some consider trying a detox programme. The argument for a body detox is a compelling one. We all know how polluted the air is in HCMC and how many herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers end up in our food and, in turn, us. While little scientific research has been conducted into detox diets and fasting, there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that it works for many people.


First a word of caution. People who have recently undergone a surgical procedure, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and young children should not go on a fast or juice detox. Also, fasting alters blood proteins and may affect a medication’s interactions with the body, so always check with your doctor before commencing a detox. Grapefruit, and possibly pomegranate, juice may increase the uptake of a prescription medication in a person’s body and so should be avoided during fasts or while taking medication. People with diabetes, anaemia, liver and kidney disease, low blood pressure, epileptics and those who are ill should seek medical supervision while fasting or undertaking a juice detox.

 The most common side effects are headaches, tiredness, low blood sugar, constipation or diarrhoea, acne, increased body odour, and bad breath. These side effects are often attributed to toxins leaving the body, but are mostly likely due to ketoacidosis which occurs when adipose tissue is converted into glucose. If fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, or kidney problems are experienced, the fast or juice detox should be discontinued. An immediate visit to a qualified health professional would also be advisable.

How to Start

It is best to begin a detox or juice fast during the warmer months of the year, so this is the perfect time of the year. At least one week before the fast, reduce and eliminate all alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, animal meat, fish, and eggs from your diet. The diet should contain mainly fruit, vegetables, and legumes. Organic is best but sometimes difficult to find in Vietnam, so wash carefully or peel the skin off the fruit and vegetables. Even though the skins or peels contain a lot of nutrients, they also contain the pesticides and other toxins.

One to two litres of freshly squeezed (or preferably extracted) juice is usually sipped throughout the day. Commercially packaged juices are full of sugar and not suitable for fasting. The following fruits and vegetables are commonly used in juice fasts: celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, apple, pineapple, cranberry, spinach, beet, and greens. Citrus fruits are often avoided. In addition to the juice, one to two litres of filtered water (or green tea for variety) is also recommended. At first you may go frequently to the bathroom, but this will soon pass.

Green vegetables and sprouts contain the pigment chlorophyll, which juice proponents believe are especially beneficial during a juice fast. A combination of fruits and vegetables is recommended because it increases the variety of phytonutrients and also improves the taste.

Certain fruits and vegetables and their parts should not be juiced, such as the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries, and other fruits, apple seeds, citrus peels, carrot and rhubarb tops, tough skins (such as kiwi, pineapple, mangoes), and bananas and avocados.

Coming Off the Fast

There should be a gradual return to solid foods, so don’t tuck into a big meal straight-away! If you have fasted for 7 or more days you will most likely not feel like fatty, sugary or salty foods as that ‘addiction’ will have been broken. You may also notice that your sense of taste has sharpened and your libido begins to return! In general, chew food really well, do not overeat, and notice any reactions to the foods to reintroduce. Reactions may involve energy levels, cravings, digestion or other symptoms. Below is a sample guideline on how to break a juice fast

Day 1 Two pieces of fruit. Each piece of fruit is divided in half so there are four servings for that day.

Day 2 Lightly steamed non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach.

Day 3 Brown rice, fresh salad.

Day 4 Organic yogurt unflavoured and unsweetened. Eggs.

Day 5 Meat, chicken, fish, tofu, if eaten.

Day 6 Beans, other grains may be introduced, if eaten.

Day 7 Other foods, as desired.

How to Juice

The best cleansing fruit juices come from: - apple, grape, grapefruit, lemon, lime. mango, melon, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, strawberry and watermelon.

The best cleansing vegetables are: - beetroot, carrot, celery, spinach and watercress.

You can use any combination you like, to make a total quantity of 230ml, and take this quantity 3 x per day. With beetroot, spinach & watercress, whose juices are very strong, make up only 50ml and mix with milder juices. With lemons & limes, 25ml is sufficient and mix with other juices.

Some recipes:

1.  200g (7oz) watermelon

    200g (7oz) strawberries

Use a Blender with a couple of ice cubes to process and serve. Rich in vitamin C, potassium and zinc. A great eliminator.

2.  250g (8oz) cranberries

    250g (8oz) watermelon

    250g cucumber

Juice all the ingredients together incl. the pips and skin of the cucumber and serve in a glass. Rich in anti-oxidants, and is a diuretic.

3.  250g pear

    124g cabbage

    50g celery

    25g watercress

Juice all ingredients and serve in a glass over ice. Great detoxifier, aids digestion & prevents fluid retention & constipation. Watercress is a powerful intestinal cleanser, the cabbage & pear rid the colon of waste matter and the celery purifies the lymph.

4.  175g carrot

    75g celery

    100g spinach

    100g lettuce   

    25g parsley

Juice the ingredients & whizz in a blender with a couple of ice cubes. This juice prevents the build-up of toxins. All ingredients work to regenerate the liver and lymph system and parsley is good for the kidneys.

5.  75g stoned prunes

    100g blackberries (can use frozen ones)

    100ml apple juice

    1 teaspoon clear honey

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend till completely smooth. A good, detoxifying smoothie

6.   1/2 small mango, peeled

    1/2 small papaya

    1 thick slice of pineapple, peeled

    Juice of 1/2 orange

    Squeeze of lime juice

Roughly chop mango & pineapple & put into a blender. Discard seeds from the papaya and chop into the blender, adding orange & lime juices. Blend till completely smooth. Serve in a tall glass. Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C and a great detox drink can make larger quantities & keep chilled.

7.  125g beetroot

    1 carrot

    1 orange

    1/2 mild red chilli crushed ice

Roughly chop beetroot, chilli and carrot. Peel orange & roughly chop the flesh. Put through a juicer and serve with crushed ice. An excellent cleanser for the intestine & liver. Rich in calcium, vitamin C and minerals. A good blood builder.

8.    2 celery sticks

    1 crisp apple

    100g green grapes  

Chop celery and apple and put through the juices with the grapes. Serve over ice. Three very effective cleansers in one drink. Very palatable and can drink it on a regular basis.

9.  3-4 parsley sprigs

    3-4 mint sprigs

    15g fresh root ginger, peeled

    200ml boiling water

    1 teaspoon honey

Put parsley and mint into a cup with the stalks, thinly slice the ginger and add to the cup with the boiling water. Leave to infuse for 4-5 minutes then lift out the herbs& ginger & add a little honey to taste.  An unusual combination but will give a thoroughly good cleanse.

10.  125g cranberries or 100ml unsweetened cranberry juice

    125g strawberries

    100g seedless red or black grapes

Put all ingredients into a blender and process till smooth. You may add a little honey if too tart. A great cleanser packed with cancer-fighting properties & vitamin C.

Dr. Andrew Gorman