Is a Lemon Detox something that is only suitable for celebrities or can you fit it in to a normal lifestyle? More importantly is it even worth it? We find out.
What is the Lemon Detox Diet?
The Lemon detox diet is essentially a liquid fasting diet that is supposed to clear your body of toxins and give you improved vitality and wellbeing as well as weight loss and many other health benefits. Key to the diet is a lemonade drink that you make yourself from fresh lemons and tree syrup, which you drink throughout the day. The detox can be carried out over a few days of complete fasting but there are easier more long-term versions that you can try as well.
According to its many fans, this detox enables your gastro intestinal system to “take a break” for a few days, which has a positive effect upon your mind and your body.
Supposed benefits include:
- Rejuvenates your body by cleansing
- Removes toxins caused by modern diet and lifestyle
- Weight loss – up to 6kg within 10 days
- Glowing skin
- Stronger nails
- Glossy hair
- Improves vitality and energy levels
- Causes mental strength and inner harmony
- Will help you kick start weight loss
- Inner peace (really?)
It is not for the faint hearted. Essentially, you fast; drinking only the lemon drink or alternatively you can stay on the diet for longer and eat only natural pure foods in combination with the lemon-based drink. Most people take the Lemon Detox diet for a minimum of three days; however, the original version of this diet requires that you stay on this fasting regime for ten days!
Some people take an “easier” version of the Lemon Detox and stay on this diet for anything up to 40 days, eating “pure foods” once a day and the drinking only the lemonade.
Background to the Lemon Detox Diet
Although this diet seems like a recent fad, it was actually first devised and published back in the 1940s by early new age practitioner, Stanley Burroughs.
He revived it in 1976 and his book titled the Master Cleanser was popular for a while, although not as common in this decade as the Cabbage Soup diet.
The aim of this Lemon Detox was to cleanse the body of toxins and according to Stanley Burroughs “rested” the digestive process, eliminated toxins and helped remove dangerous cells. The original version of the Lemon Detox, often called the Lemonade diet or the Master Cleanser, was a liquid fast that was carried out over 10 days! Extreme by anyone’s standards!
Stanley Burroughs – The Inventor of the Lemon Detox
Stanley Burroughs was a controversial character. He was born in 1903 and although he had no medical training, he was very interested in alternative healing methods and remedies. He was a vegetarian and opened an alternative health centre in Portland Oregon where he practiced reflexology and gave lectures on health. Although such things are mainstream now, he was a pioneer in alternative health but it was not always successful.
Burroughs devised the Lemon Detox or Master Cleanse to treat the stomach ulcers of one of his patients and over the course of the treatment Burroughs also noticed that the Lemon Detox caused weight loss! After all not eating for 10 days does have this effect!
Burroughs faced murder charges in 1984 for attempting to practice cancer treatment. He convinced a young man with bone cancer to avoid a potentially life saving bone marrow transplant and instead use Burroughs’s own cancer therapies. The young man died and Burroughs was charged of 2nd degree felony murder and for practising medicine without a license for the second time (he had been convicted of practising medicine without a license in 1960)
Stanley Burroughs died in 1991 aged 87 and although many people today consider him a total quack and charlatan, he is also referred to as a legendary naturopath and his ideas and theories are still popular with the New Age set.
How to follow the Lemon Detox Diet
The rules of the Lemon detox are easy because there is not much to remember.
The key to it is the lemonade drink that you make up each day. It requires fresh lemons and Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup available from health food outlets and online.
The total detox requires fasting for between 3 – 7 days and during this time you drink 7-10 glasses daily of the detox drink plus and at least 2 litres of water.
An alternative “relaxed” diet programme can last for longer and requires you to cut out breakfast and dinner and replace with three glasses of detox drink, eating only a limited main meal at lunchtime, made of “pure foods” which are mainly raw vegetables.
The Lemonade Detox Drink
You make the lemonade drink fresh and it is very easy. Each serving contains:
- 2 tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice, about half a lemon
- 2tbs of Madal Bal Natural Tree syrup
- 10oz glass of water
- A pinch of cayenne pepper or ground ginger
Mix the lemon juice and syrup together, add to water and sprinkle the spice over the drink. You drink the lemonade about nine times a day and use to replace food.
What is Madal Bal Syrup?
Madal Bal syrup is not the same as maple syrup and it does have some nutritional value. It is derived from a blend of four different south Asian palm syrups and according to the manufacturer provides you with the minerals and nutrients you need to stay on the lemon detox diet. It is available from online suppliers and high street retailers including Holland & Barrett.
Despite the claims that this syrup will sustain you throughout the diet, there is no medical evidence that it does anything at all. It is not an adequate replacement to food. This syrup has not been clinically tested or proven to provide adequate nutrition in place of a healthy diet.
Side Effects to the Lemon Detox
Although this diet is touted as giving your mind and body a total rejuvenation, most people who have tried it, do not agree. Common side effects include most or all of the following conditions:
- Extreme hunger
- Mood swings
- Changes to blood pressure
- Liquid bowel movements
- Loss of muscle tissue
- Inability to concentrate
Even Beyonce who did use the diet to lose weight fast for an acting role has reportedly said that she would never do it again and would not recommend it to anyone. In addition she quickly put the weight back on that she lost. The advertising around the Lemon detox diet always neglects to point out this feedback.
Does Detox Even Work?
According to medical opinion, detoxing is unnecessary and can be dangerous to health. The idea that toxins build up in the body is not founded in scientific fact because our bodies can filter out and eliminate most ingested toxins via the liver and kidneys.
Speaking in an interview in the Daily Mail, Ursula Arens, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association said;
it’s ridiculous to think of your digestive system and your colon as a purification plant or a sewer that needs to have its pipes flushed through and a holiday
Just cutting out processed food and alcohol will probably help you lose weight and improve the condition of your hair and skin without fasting
The fascination with detoxing has also caused an explosion of so called “detox diet pills” too. Often pictured alongside awful images of bowel waste, these supplements promise to flush your system out removing harmful waste. Such supplements can be hazardous to your health though, you can read about the potential dangers of detox diet pills in our article.
Dangers of Crash Dieting and Fasting
All medical advice is to follow a balanced and healthy diet and if you want to lose weight, increase exercise and follow a diet you can live with. According to the NHS a safe rate of weight loss is around 2 lbs (1kg) a week.
Even going without protein and calcium for 24 hours can do damage to the body. If the body does not get enough amino acids, which are found in protein, the body raids muscle tissue for supplies. This is potentially harmful and can lead to future osteoporosis as calcium is taken from the bones. In addition, the metabolism slows down to conserve energy, making future weight loss difficult and can take a long time to build back up to normal.
Medical Opinion of the Lemon Detox Diet
All medical opinion is that the Lemon Detox diet is dangerous and should be avoided. It was voted the Worst Diet of the Year in 2012 for the second year running, by the Dieticians Association of Australia, even beating the infamous Six Weeks To OMG.
Nutritionists are extremely concerned about the safety of the Lemon Detox diet. According to Dr Ed Zimmer an American MD who has studied the Lemon Detox diet in depth, there is no specific reason why the ingredients do anything to help you and the:
Master Cleanse program is basically a way to starve yourself, with just enough sugar to keep you going for a few days.
Starving yourself will make you lose weight short term. It cannot fail to work but any effects will be temporary. Starving yourself is not good for your health and does nothing to flush out imaginary “toxins” which do not even exist.
Nutritionists are concerned about the lack of essential nutrients in this fasting diet and the severely reduced calorie intake required for health and well-being. They are concerned about the long-term effects of the diet and the unhealthy relationship it builds with food. British Dietician Keri Glassman has said those following the diet are “guaranteed” to gain weight after stopping. The positive benefits of this diet are hard to see.
Is It Worth Following This Diet?
No, this diet is completely insane! The inventor of the diet was convicted of murder and has been completely discredited by the medical establishment. His diet will probably make you feel ill and has little or no medical benefits whatsoever.
It will be impossible to function normally while you are fasting. Extreme hunger and the many side effects will make it hard to carry on your ordinary tasks such as your job, driving or running a family. Your concentration will be impaired and you will probably feel fatigued most of the time. Even Beyonce who used the diet to lose weight fast for a film role has said “never again”.
It will slow your metabolism making your body more susceptible to weight gain and it will certainly lead to increased weight gain in the future. Whatever weight you lose on the duration of the Lemon Detox you will certainly put back on once your period of starvation is over.