Make use of this long weekend to detox

If you constantly feel heavy, low and depressed, your body is probably sending you a signal that it wants to rid itself of all the toxins it has been accumulating.

However, "how" is a big question.

Often touted by celebrities, detox drinks or diet cleanses have risen in popularity.

The "Lemon Detox Diet" is one example of the list of juice fasts popular here.

Lemons are selling like hot cakes in Seoul, possibly indicating the popularity of the "Lemon Detox Diet" phenomenon.

This diet cleanse, created by an American alternative health practitioner in the 1950s, calls for consuming nothing but six to 12 glasses daily of a mixture of 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and one-tenth a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for 10 consecutive days.

The diet is designed to force the body to burn its stores of fat and protein.

But the reality is that most end up feeling starved, no matter how determined.

Detox juice

Dr. Seo Jae-geol, a local doctor specializing in natural medicine, suggests an alternative to the starvation detox methods.

Adapting detox juices served to cancer patients in US hospitals, the doctor developed a Korean-style detox juice, made with a selection of local vegetables and fruits, as a supplementary diet.

Seo created a detox juice recipe that increases the body's intake of vegetables.

He suggests slightly cooking vegetables ― broccoli, carrot, tomato and cabbage ― in boiling water and blending them with sweet fruits like apples or bananas.

"The American Cancer Society recommends at least six servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits a day. But it's quite difficult to do so and even if one follows the rule, the body absorbs only 5-10 per cent of the greens when they are eaten raw," Seo told The Korea Herald.

According to his research, the body absorbs 60 per cent of the nutrients from vegetables when they are cooked and 90 per cent if they are ground.

By increasing the absorption rate of greens you take much more of the good stuff like digestive enzymes and substances that prevent cancer, he said.

"When you drink cooked and liquefied vegetables, you can take a lot more good stuff for your body, offering the body a chance to produce new and fresh cells," he said.

The detox juice can have optimal results when capsules or yogurt containing lactobacillus ― a type of "friendly" bacteria found in the gut ― are taken as well.

"People today consume too much alcohol and flour-based foods and that kills the lactobacillus in the intestines, an important substance in keeping the body's main detox unit working," he said.

He stressed that the focus of the method is to cleanse one's organs, and to boost the immune system, not necessarily to lose weight.

Drink the juice at least twice a day or as much as you can, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But this method could help you lose some weight because the vegetable juice makes one feel full but low in calories (about 87 calories for 200 ml juice).

You can drink it before you have a meal or skip one meal a day, particularly dinner, by drinking a cup of the detox juice, Seo added.

Dr. Park Min-sun, another local physician, warned that it is dangerous to skip all the meals and drink any of dietary cleanses.

"It is true that vegetables contain vitamins and enzyme to flush out the intestines but skipping meals can be dangerous because the body will start to change to store more fat," said she.

Lemon detox, in particular, is nonsense, she added, saying the maple syrup in the juice is no different than just drinking sugar.

Deep breathing and stretching

Simply taking deep breaths, meditating and straightening one's spine are some other detox methods that can be incorporated into daily life.

Taking a deep breath is the most important element in detox therapy, particularly for Asians who have smaller stomach than Westerners.

This is why many Asians cannot digest meat as well and face a higher risk of cancers because meat decays in the organ, producing ammonia, Seo said.

"Asians need to make their stomach move and allow gastric acid to digest the meat. Stretching is also important to stimulate one's nervous system in the spine that orders organs to work properly," he said.

Detox medically

Many doctors have said that it is important to understand how your body system works first and does it work probably to purge toxins.

The Chaum Center, affiliated with CHA Health Systems, one of the country's prestigious medical groups, offers specialized scan program to detect toxic substance in one's body.

"Doctors here find what kind of heavy metal substance and bacteria you have in your intestine by taking a sample and conducting a chemical analysis," said an official at the hospital.

The program also includes blood tests and a urine examination to see whether there are enough enzymes in the intestines and activate one's digest system.

Once one is done with tests, the hospital offers customized care to supplement hormones or to list nutrition one need to clean up the organs.

The hospital also offers a wide range of exercise techniques to recover one's physical balance.

Detox spa

Detox can be a pleasurable experience at spas.

Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel's Aequalis Spa has a new treatment program for summer skin and body.

Titled "The Slim & Shiny Body Line," the program is designed to improve the body line by treating cellulite around the waistline and legs as well as help slim the belly with techniques that activate the movement of the intestines, the spa said.

The 60-minute program is available until Aug. 31 and is priced at 130,000 won (S$143) excluding tax.

For more information, call (02) 2211-1680 or send an email to

Banyan Tree Spa offers a spa method that it totes can heal distressed customers' body and soul.

In a program named "High Touch, Low Tech," skilled therapists manually relax tense muscles and stimulate the movements of organs.

It also uses only spa products made of organically grown herbs.

For more information and a reservation, visit

Recipe for Detox Juice

Dr. Seo's Detox Juice

- Put four vegetables ― broccoli, carrot, tomato and cabbage ― in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.

- Cool vegetables down and put them in a blender with apples or bananas.

- Add vegetable broth or purified water to make the juice more watery.

- Add one teaspoon of salt when boiling the vegetables to maintain freshness for more than 24 hours.

- Mix it with milk, yogurt or plum juice in order to increase the intake of digestive enzymes.

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