An MSNBC.com article on the dangers of detox diets triggered a flood of reader e-mails. Some extolled the energy boost from fasting for weeks, while others felt starved or exhausted from the extreme diets. A few blamed a medical establishment conspiracy for the warnings. "Do you work for the drug companies?" asked a reader from Spokane, Wash.
Some acknowledged the messy side effects of regimens like the Master Cleanse, but credited the diets for helping them adopt better eating habits. Anne from Washington, D.C., called the Master Cleanse fast "one of the best experiences of my life."
Not everyone saw lasting benefits. Leigh Dembrow from Janesville, Wis., was happy to have made it through a 30-day carrot juice fast, but then celebrated with "a 12-piece bucket KFC chicken and ate the whole bucket!"
"So much for that diet," Dembrow wrote.
Read on for more responses:
I tried the lemonade, cayenne, maple syrup fasting plan. I felt starved and tired. I forced myself to run 5 miles each day. I did lose a few pounds and I stopped fasting, followed a sensible health diet and exercised, so I stayed in shape.
—Evie Van Orden, Redstone, Colo.
I did the Master Cleanse for 10 days about three years ago and a water fast, yes just water, for 16 days about four years ago, along with other detox products over the years. (I did the water fast under a doctor's care.) They are not easy to do and, yes, you have to be able to work your day around your bathroom time. I did drop weight, but as you stated in your article, it came back. I have come to the realization there is no magic pill and you can't get around eating healthy and exercising for the best way to get and stay healthy. I feel healthier eating the right foods than I ever felt before or after a detox.
—Kim, Chester Springs, Pa.
I did the Master Cleanse for 15 days. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt healthier all over — energy levels, skin condition, weight, etc. I even maintained a much healthier relationship with food afterwards. Anyone who criticizes has probably never done it, and any expert who criticizes is probably bought and paid for by either the pharmaceutical or diet industry.
—Anne, Washington, D.C.
I have tried the Master Cleanse to lose some vanity pounds. Two days was too much for me! Being in the bathroom every 10 minutes was not going to work for me, considering my work schedule. I did lose 5 pounds, though, but of course gained it back within the two days. Stomach pains and bottom problems will keep me from doing this diet again. Moderation is key!
—Amber, Round Rock, Texas
I've tried juice fasts and other detox-type diets as well as over-the-counter supplements. They were difficult to stick to and left me very tired as well as spending too much time in the restroom. I now eat healthy as much as I can and exercise five to six days a week.
Are you trying to tell me that our bodies naturally get rid of the toxins from fast food and other typically American garbage? I've been vegan for a while now, and I felt totally "high" from the detox when I first cut out meat and dairy. I am more alert, stronger and have more energy than ever before. Science actually does back up veganism. Liquid fasts sound like complete B.S. to me. However, to say that our bodies naturally deal with the toxins in most of the disgusting food our population consumes is a dangerous lie.
—Josh, San Francisco
I tried it for eight hours and I started to feel very bad. I am a diabetic and have high blood pressure. So it's not for everybody.
—Terri Richard, Memphis, Tenn.
You should be warning people about the toxic food industry that is poisoning America. How about some thunder thighs with that double chin? Detox programs are essential to reset the kidneys, liver and thyroid, which no longer function properly due to years of abuse from our diets. Toxins are released from stored fat as well as the colon, which can be clogged with pounds of waste. This article sounds like it was paid for by the fast-food industry. Why on earth would you discourage something that may help prevent disease? Do you work for the drug companies?
—L, Spokane, Wash.