A recent discussion with a client revealed a case where an individual was taking a 31 day "tea detox diet" supposedly gaining all her daily nutrients from a selection of teas provided by an online supplier. The individual under advice from her boss, eventually took herself to hospital, where she was diagnosed with dehydration and received an injection to balance and stabilise her health.
The internet is a double edged sword, allowing us access to a multitude of different sources of information and ideas. Advantageous for finding new ways to inform and understand from our own perspective. However, we can also fall prey to promises of miraculous results and marketing ploys which claim to assist with the 'latest technological advancements' in weight loss, body sculpting or athletic ability and recovery.
Changes in your dietary system area always a very subtle affair and the consequent reactions this can have on your system can be dire if not taken with a dose of caution and advice. Supplements and replacement meals, miraculous powders and mystical plants from far off lands all have certain characteristics that can enhance certain factors of your well-being - or harm it.
One only has to look at the explosion of high energy drinks, promising 'increased attention span, performance and alertness' to see how adding one element into the system can seriously impair your health and well-being. The explosion of these drinks on the youth market has seen levels of up to 90% of users experiencing adverse effects with some 10% experiencing serious neurological or cardiac toxicity.*
Medications can have a large effect on the effectiveness of various 'herbal' or 'over the counter' health products, with some cases reporting serious health risks due to blood thinning, metabolic changes andenzyme blocking (which leads to digestive complications). Ensuring that you are aware of all the risks and contents associated with these products, especially when you are involved with other medication is vital.
Protein supplements are a commonly used post-workout beverage to maximise protein ingestion and synthesis in the rebuilding of muscles and recovery after exercise. In 2010 there was a great deal of concern over toxicity of arsenic, cadmium and lead in popular brands of protein powders and supplements. Along with the aspartame argument (toxicity of formic acid and formaldehyde), high levels of these products that can be ingested in the system can have huge impacts on cognitive function, peripheral nervous function and even anaemia. High exposure can be a result from ingesting 3 protein powder servings per day - something not uncommon in many gyms.
Most dietary adjustments are advised over a gradual and adaptive process. For example, fasting is taking on a new fashion as an efficient way to flush the system, activate the immune function and clear out the excretary vehicles for the digestive system. However, radical fasting is dangerous and damaging as the body only recognises a sudden drop in nutrients and essential resources needed for everyday function and operation. However, even proponents of this approach encourage a gradual process of adaption rather than launching directly into long days of fasting. Indeed a recent example cited a long term fast over 3 weeks. Quite a feat to go without food for this period. However this person 'worked their way' towards this goal, practicing a single day of fasting per month, increasing to 2 day stints and so on for years before attempting a long term period of fasting. Hence ensuring that he 'trained' his body for what it needed to do. You don't run a marathon without training.
Investigating options for your dietary intakes and adaptions is the most important step you can take. Being well versed before you embark on a system of change or new elements of introduction is most important. Getting the most varied information of any system or product is that extra bit of information that can save you pain or inconvenience later on.
Different dietary needs require different approaches and knowledge as to what exactly you should and shouldn't be aware of. Find an advisory team that is supportive but informed. Whether that be an alternative practitioner, registered dietician or naturopath, having that support to investigate and find the best options for you can be the best pre-emptive tactic to tackle your dietary requirements.
*Medical Journal of Australia - 15 Nov 2011