Drink to Your Health

Even with 68% of Americans overweight or obese and a weight loss industry that generates roughly $58 billion, growth in the diet industry has slowed in recent years, declining at an average annual rate of 2.4% since 2007. Studies indicate that, since the economic downturn, a lack of disposable income may be a factor, but there also seems to be increased awareness that quick fixes and diet fads don’t work. According to a recent Mintel study, 70% of black adults who diet do so for general health reasons. Fifty-two percent said it was to prevent or control high blood pressure; 49% who watch what they eat have a hard time staying on diets; 42% said most diets don’t work; and 60% said they would prefer to eat healthy foods more frequently.

Roni DeLuz, N.D. understood those frustrations when she published 21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox (HarperCollins; $24.95) in 2008. Written with her business partner, James Hester, who struggled with weight for many years until he lost 30 pounds on DeLuz’s program, the book is less of a diet and more of a program to jumpstart a commitment to a lifestyle change involving food and nutrition. DeLuz received her wakeup call in 1987 when multiple health problems nearly left her bedridden. She was weak, ill, taking several powerful medications, and depressed. After two years without a diagnosis, DeLuz, a registered nurse, began to seek holistic treatments, which forced her to change her diet. “I got miraculously better when I started to clean up,” she says. “I started putting a lot of green drinks and juices in my body and slowly got off my medications. We’re always in the fast lane and because of that, we tend to put our bodies and our health on the back burner until we have a crisis.”

DeLuz, now a licensed naturopathic doctor, is also the founder and director of Martha’s Vineyard Holistic Retreat at the Martha’s Vineyard Inn in Massachusetts. Here she offers insights into how juicing can be the starting point of reclaiming your health.

Detoxing is not the same as dieting. Diets are often centered on calorie consumption and weight reduction. “For detoxing, you’re eliminating the poisons in your tissues. We’re giving the body an internal bath. Green vegetable juices help alkalize the body and contain all the minerals and vitamins to build healthy body tissues and help rid your body of toxicity.” Weight loss is a secondary function of detoxing.

Detoxing is not the same as fasting. Although this is a 21-day program of ingesting only liquids, it is designed to be highly nutritive. Intake is roughly every three hours and the book offers a chart listing a variety of vegetables with their vitamins, minerals, and benefits to the body. The plan is not to starve the body but to feed it only natural, unprocessed, highly nutritious drinks and soups.

Not all juices are created equal. “Juices are very good for you, but the way people are juicing is all wrong.” DeLuz says that the focus for juicing in her program is healing and strengthening the body. It’s why vegetables are the foundation of her menus. “Juice bars want to sell you what tastes good. Greens are a detox food. It’s not a sugar juice.”

“It’s easy to keep you from getting sick,” she continues. “It’s far easier to prevent [sickness] than it is to turn around. But that’s all education. We are truly further along than we were 25 years ago when I was sick.”