It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
My wife and I have been following The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan for a few months now and love it. Now we are considering doing a detoxification/colon cleansing program. Do you have any recommendations regarding the many herbal products available? Are they safe? Could we get the same effect by just going vegetarian and boosting our fiber intake? Any advice you can provide is appreciated.
The concept of detoxification and cleansing has no basis in science and would never be recommended by a reputable physician. There is no reason to pursue such a strategy. Many of the herbal products on the market are poorly tested and there's very little government oversight of them. I would avoid such procedures.
You are doing the right thing already: eating healthy by taking processed foods out of your diet. Getting back into the kitchen with a diet that's rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olive or grapeseed oil, fish, lean meats, and whole grains is the way to be healthy. You are right about increasing the fiber in your diet being of great benefit. The best ways are to replace white flour products with whole wheat flour, use brown rice, eat more legumes (beans, peanuts, soybeans), choose sweet potatoes and get more high fiber veggies and greens.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP