Book review: The Detox Diet

It’s all about the gut


The Detox Diet: By Shonali Sabherwal, Penguin Random House India, 308 pages, Rs299.
The Detox Diet: By Shonali Sabherwal, Penguin Random House India, 308 pages, Rs299.

You should detox every day—to offset not just bad food but also negative emotions. Why? “Knowing what you are on the inside results in the outward manifestations of health, beauty, abundant energy, mental clarity, strength, happiness and gratitude,” writes Mumbai-based macrobiotic nutritionist and chef Shonali Sabherwal.  

After The Beauty Diet and The Love Diet, Sabherwal has come out with her third book, The Detox Diet, which sheds light on the importance of gut health and ways to improve it. Here are some reasons for reading the book:

■ With lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease increasing at an alarming rate, it is essential that we understand the role of the gut in our well-being. Sabherwal writes: “My practice has led me to believe that almost everything stems from the gut. The old adage ‘You are what you eat’ means just that and so much more. I think of it as, ‘You reflect how clean your gut is.’”

Much of the book is devoted to explaining, in simple words, what gut flora (the trillions of bacteria living in our digestive tract) is and why we need a good inner ecosystem.

■ The author stresses on the basic tenets of a healthy detox. “You detox because you need to balance your inner ecosystem and repair your gut. Even if you feel you are healthy and not suffering from any problem in your gut, you can still go through a detox. “A detox is a serious approach to health and wellness...you should never go on a juice detox or a cooked detox that is not monitored by a health practitioner who is qualified to deal with you,” she writes.

Detoxes are highly personal and uplifting, believes the author. “If you are on a journey to clean up your gut and help the good microorganisms in your body, thereby impacting your blood condition and digestive health, it will also impact your inner energy, i.e., your qiprana or life force. By this I mean that when toxins start to go out of your system, a lot of ‘emotional’ issues may come up as well. So make sure you are sensitive to yourself and those around you,” she writes. She mentions three diets, the Raw Detox Juice Diet, Regeneration Detox Diet and the Master Detox Diet. She lists who should follow each and who shouldn’t, and the science behind why each works.

■The author explains why, every now and then, it is important to clean out alcohol, sugar, gluten, trans fats, dairy (in case one is suffering from a leaky gut (a condition in which particles of food toxins leak through the gut wall), even painkillers and antibiotics, from the body. She also mentions some yoga poses for a heathy gut, including the Triangle Pose and Downward-Facing Dog.

■ A part of the book is dedicated to the benefits of fermented foods, which the author believes are superfoods, “more beneficial than anything you can do for yourself on a beauty, weight and health level”. 

Using historical evidence, she brings into focus their importance. “A sweet substance known as soma and sura (wine/beer) were the first fermented products made in India by Vedic Aryans. Soma was a plant-based product made using the juices of plants and barley. In the Rig Veda, it is mentioned that this mix was fermented for 15 days. Sura, on the other hand, appears in the Yajurveda. It was prepared with germinated paddy, germinated barley and parched rice. Yeast was used as a fermenting agent,” she says. 

Besides talking about popular fermented foods like curd, idli and dosa, Sabherwal lists others such as kanji (a north Indian drink made with black carrots or beetroots) and rejuvelac (a by-product of the grain-sprouting process; “one can use wheat, or any grain like quinoa, amaranth, or any form of millets”). 

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