Nicole Jacoby, 32, of Ventnor, show different materials that would be needed to do a detox cleanse at her home Thursday, Feb 6, 2014.

Edward Lea

Nicole Jacoby says detox cleansing works for her, even though the Ventnor woman can't back up her feelings with scientific studies.

"I know we encounter a large number of pollutants every single day, and it complicates the body. We have to detoxify. I like to do it every season," said Jacoby, who has been detox cleansing for the past eight years. "I like to say it recharges, rejuvenates and renews. I do juice detoxes mainly, but I also do green smoothies."

In recent years, detoxification has experienced a resurgence, as people modify what they put into their bodies in hopes of eliminating toxins.

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Detoxification can be a fast, but it also can be a diet if done repeatedly over an extended period of time. Detoxification can be the consuming of certain foods, or the exclusion of others, but is usually both. The foods allowed include juices, fruits, vegetables, herbs or water. The juices can be a custom-made combination of fruits, vegetables and water. Foods usually left out include fats, carbohydrates, sugars, caffeine, alcohol, dairy and gluten.

The controversy over detoxification concerns whether or not it really has a positive impact.

Advocates say the detoxification process rids the body of toxins that accumulate over time. Those who believe in detoxification credit it with not only improving their physical health, but also with psychological or spiritual benefits.

The pro-detox side has high-profile supporters, including cardiologist Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has his own television show 3 p.m. weekdays on WTXF-TV 29.

Medical professionals, who don't endorse detoxification, cite a lack of scientific data that proves a good result because of detox cleansing, especially if it is used for weight loss. There also is a concern that the exclusion of certain foods might lead to a lack of some vitamins, minerals and nutrients normally received through a well-balanced diet.

The juice cleanse Jacoby does calls for drinking six, 16-ounce glasses of juice each day for three days.

Jacoby does not do detox cleanses just for herself. Jacoby studied holistic health at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition in New York City and started her own company, Greens & Grains. Besides juice cleanses, Jacoby also can accommodate a raw foods cleanse, a vegan cleanse for meat eaters and a master cleanser. Along with providing the juices for detox cleanses, Jacoby hosts parties that focus on clean eating with instruction on vegan, vegetarian and raw-food lifestyles.

"The standard American diet is so messed up that anybody who is coming to me would just get a generalized juice plan," said Jacoby, 32.

In season, Jacoby buys the ingredients for her juices at Jah's Creation Organic Farm in Egg Harbor Township. When not in season, most of Jacoby's juice ingredients are purchased at Bonterra Market, also in Egg Harbor Township.

"Anytime, you are moving away from meat, dairy, flour and sugar and towards plant-based foods, you are going to reap enormous benefits," Jacoby said.

Crystal Woessner, a registered dietitian at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, said there is not much research about the practices advocated by those who recommend detox cleansing. If someone wanted to do it as a form of weight loss or dieting, it is really not the best option, Woessner said.

"I would first ask them why they would want to pursue juice cleansing, or what they heard about it in the past and what goals they were looking forward to getting from the juice cleansing," Woessner said.

With juice cleansing, the juicing of the fruit also should include its skin because that's how the person will receive the most vitamins and some fiber as opposed to a lot of sugar naturally found in the fruit, Woessner said. One of the problems with a lot of juicing is that the person will not be consuming proteins, fats and whole grains, which are components of a balanced diet, Woessner said.

There is no research verifying that toxins are being released from the body through a juice cleanse, or if they are, what they are, Woessner said.

"I personally don't feel that it (juice cleansing) would be necessary because if your kidneys are functioning well and you are filtering water through your body, you are getting rid of things your body doesn't need in that way. Everything that goes through your body gets filtered through the liver. If your liver is functioning well, that's taking care of the job. If you are not having any problems with your body and everything is functioning well, it's not necessary," Woessner said.

For the people who want to try detox cleansing, one of the places to buy herbal cleanses is Pamela's Health & Harmony food store in Margate. It sells Renew Life products that include everything from daily detox to total body cleanses.

Pamela Shuman, the owner, has sold cleansing products since her store opened in 2006. Shuman estimates between 10 to 15 percent of her customers do cleanses.

"A lot of people just feel sluggish or tired, or a lack of energy, or they've been really bad with their eating habits, especially over the holidays," said Shuman, who added the detox cleanses have grown in popularity over the years.

Elizabeth Kurban works at the Bonterra Market and has been doing cleanses for almost two years with smoothies, teas, juices and fasts.

"I usually do it when I'm feeling kinda low, especially during the winter when it is cold," said Kurban, 21, of Ocean City. "I will probably do this kind of stuff for the rest of my life. I think it's really beneficial to your health, and it's also really nice just because it is a personal thing."

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