Souping? No Need to “Detox”

February 9, 2016 in fiber, Foodland Chronicles, General, Health Claims, Uncategorized, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Do you like to be on the front edge of trends? Have you abandoned juicing and taken up souping? If yes, then probably you’re a rather trendy guy or gal. In full candor, I’ll admit, that I’ve never been nominated for any awards for being trendy. It’s the chick and egg question: which came first? Was it that I hung out with science majors like myself, or I was already not on the leading edge of trends (fashion or otherwise) and so I fit in nicely with my fellow science majors? After that little digression on trends, let me jump into the soup…… souping that is.

If you feel like your intestine needs to be cleaned, then I’d say that consuming soup is much healthier and much less risky than the use of enemas, colonics, laxatives, magnesium, enzymes, and certain herbal teas.

The concept of souping is not just having soup for a meal; for some it is having five liquid-based meals during the course of a single day; and then doing that for five days. I admit that I’ve not done souping; but in my mind’s eye, part way into my imagined souping session, I picture a strong desire for a solid meal, after days of feeling like I was floating away. It’s not very likely that I’ll go beyond this imaginary souping session, to actually find out how people feel, because I’m not much into trendy eating styles or fad diets.

Souping is, in fact, a new trend. Have you heard of it? In essence, souping is going on a soup cleanse. It has replaced the ‘juicing’ trend. There are a couple of reasons that juicing has fallen out of favor: (1) Juicing often leaves people feeling really hungry. (2) The lack of chewing in ‘juicing’ is difficult for many. (3) ‘Juicing’ can cause big spikes in blood sugar for some. (4) Juicing is not as broadly nourishing as souping can be.

Certainly, soup cleanses would be expected to be lower in sugar than juicing because the recipes use more vegetables instead of fruit. In addition, vegetables in general are a source of protein and complex carbohydrates and fiber. The fiber in soup stays in the soup, but often in juicing the fiber is discarded. In addition, fruit is not a good source of protein. These differences are probably why there is such a difference in hunger from juicing compared to souping.

There are even businesses (see New York Times article on souping) popping up around the country to provide soups; some come in the mail and some are purchased in shops.

Juicing and souping are both trying to replace the sometimes-dangerous fad of colon cleansing. There are risks with colon cleansing – the high colonic style colon irrigation. One is the risk that UCLA, Chicago and Seattle patients endured; a super bug – CRE (Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae). It has taken lives after getting into the colon riding on an instrument. The hospitals were not doing high colonics, but the instruments were the mechanism of contamination by the super bugs. Another is that the normal flora (healthy bacteria that live in your intestine/colon) get out of balance after a high colonic irrigation, when compared to their normal ratios.

Do you really need to cleanse your colon?

Americans, on average, eat about 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day; but 20 to 35 grams are really needed. This is where the real problem starts. If you’re not eating fiber, then your body has difficulty with proper elimination. If we’re eating a high fiber diet, drinking liquids or consuming high water meals, like soups, and exercising, the waste products are generally large bulky stools. This mass of material pushes the edges of the lumen of the colon and takes the waste materials and with it, old cells shed from the colon. The cells are shed every three days and everything is actually nicely cleaned by nature – in a very natural way. The natural bacteria in the colon can detoxify food wastes. If you make eating a high fiber plant-based diet part of your regular routine, then you don’t have to consider disrupting your eating style with souping or juicing or via the dangerous high colonic.

Eating more fruits and vegetables can be a varied and enjoyable experience. For one, you can design countless and diverse ways of delivering fruits and vegetables. Vegetable and fruit soups and/or fruit and vegetable smoothies can fit into your regular long-term eating style. Remember though, the calories of 4 or 5 pieces of whole fruit do not evaporate, when they’re blended to become juice or soup. (I call this the law of conservation of calories).

My question: Why not just make a big pot of soup and enjoy?

What makes the soups from the companies that are supplying soup for souping taste good is the liberal use of herbs and spices. Why not use your own turmeric and cumin; or tarragon, sage, and parley? Soup is a wonderful meal, especially during the cold months. It’s also a terrific way to get the calories down in a meal. Thank goodness water does not have calories. When you have a water-based (broth-based) soup, it generally fills you comfortably full with low calorie vegetables, a few flecks of animal protein if you desire, and some legumes or whole grains.

Of course one of the reasons that people go to juicing or souping is to lose weight. Sure they talk about cleansing, but they’re often after weight loss. So I want to be sure to remind you that going too low in calories will deliver weight loss, but it can also lead to muscle breakdown. When you lose your muscle mass, you lower your metabolism and burn calories more slowly. Certainly, in the long-term that’s not the outcome you’re looking for. It is, of course, an important part of why so many people lose lots of weight, only to put it back. If you go too low on calories, your body will sacrifice your muscle mass to provide the missing energy and nutrients.

You can benefit from the low calories in vegetable soup. Maybe instead of 5-day souping, you could be a little more conservative and just consider having two or three soup meals a week, and benefit from the nourishing vegetables and the filling power of soup. This is much more likely to be of long-term benefit than 5-day souping. It’s also more likely to provide the additional fiber in your diet, whose absence led to the unnatural cleansing concept anyway. In trying the 3-a-week plan, I’m not talking a cheesy French Onion Soup here; or creamy New England Corn Chowder; or a hardy chili with beans and plenty of beef. If you’re wanting to deficit calories at a meal, don’t choose a creamy, hardy, or cheesy soup.

I’m not sure I can do a good job of explaining what makes me dislike the word “detox” in the title of a recipe. But let me give a little stab at it. Enjoying food is a very real part of the reason for eating for me. A wonderful and comforting bowl of warm vegetable soup mentally seems to become some sort of medicine or engine de-gummer when the word “detox” is in the title of the recipe. Having said that, if you do not want to pay the big dollars for a traditionally budget-friendly soup, then here is a batch of soup recipes specifically designed to “detox.” There’s even a link to “detox” salads. Look at their ingredients, see how to make them yourself, and rename them as something palatable. After you see what’s in them, I’ll rest my case about traditionally budget-friendly soup offered with the “detox” label and souped-up prices. Regular full-flavored, traditional brothy soups, with vegetables of all kinds, beans, and even some whole grains, all married in a pot and accented with herbs and spices can fill the bill of what faddists call a “detox” soup. You don’t need to pay the big bucks and you don’t need to call it “detox” soup. You don’t have to imagine yourself full of toxins, or like a gummed up engine needing some foul-smelling chemical to clean you up. You are a good person seeking better colonic health and weight management by preparing and eating nutritious, fiber-providing, low calorie, and absolutely delicious soups!

Why not consider making most of your meals a delicious alternative to faddish “detox” meals – but just call them delicious, wonderful food. Include plentiful and frequent servings of vegetables, fruit and whole grains and that’s a great starting place for your new eating style. You can call it “stick to it permanently” “no need to detox”. Feel free to jump into soup as a regular part of your healthy eating.