Saturday, January 21, 2006

Inner cleanliness: everybody's doing detox

Inner cleanliness: everybody's doing detoxIF DECEMBER is the month of indulgence, January is for atonement, and the modern equivalent of a hairshirt - the detox kit - is flying off the shelves at chemists and health food shops as Sydneysiders try to purge their bodies of the excesses of the festive season.

Shane Bryan of Balmain Health Foods said detox-related sales rise by up to 70 per cent in January. "It's the biggest month of the year; everyone wants to get over the Christmas-new year period.

"Things to do with liver detoxing, anything like that, is very popular. We sell a lot of liver cleanser and whole-body detoxes. We always keep them well in stock and out the front of the stores."

Demand is surging: in the past year the detox market grew 90 per cent and was now worth $13 million, said Cecilia Howard, marketing director for Black mores, which sells a 10-day program.

Detoxes range from diets designed by nutritionists to ready-made kits, which include strict dietary guidelines, menus and herbs to help cleanse the liver, stomach and intestines.

Some say detoxing rids the body of impurities but others say that claim is not backed by scientific evidence.

The kits can cost up to $100. Their demands differ, but most recommend avoiding caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and refined sugar, and advice ingesting plenty of water and vegetables.

Sarah Gawthorne, 26, of Kirribilli, is a regular detoxer. She finished a 15-day kit last month after a run of parties and has now embarked on a post-Christmas plan. "I want to give my liver a break, make myself feel a bit better," she said.

Giving up dairy, alcohol and red meat was not too hard; coffee was harder. "I have no qualms in saying I have a coffee addiction. I have coffee in the morning and I need it to kick-start the day."

Ms Gawthorne said she usually felt poorly in the first few days of a detox program, but by the end of it her skin has improved and she had lost weight. "I feel a lot more energetic."

A nutritionist, Fay Fain, said detoxing eliminated bad bacteria, food that could not be absorbed, parasites and even mould. It helped banish bloating, indigestion, constipation and tiredness. "The best time to cleanse is normally January or spring," she said. "It's a kick-start to the system … if you have over-indulged, especially after alcohol and eating all that rich food at Christmas."

However, the Australian Consumers Association said that while some information in the kits was useful, some was scientifically unproven and confusing.

"The message to consumers is, we don't necessarily need a detox kit to improve our health," said Clare Hughes, a food policy officer. "Long-lasting changes like increasing fruit and vegetable, limiting caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol, are going to be of much more benefit to our health than spending the $50 or $60 it costs to get one of these kits."

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

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