The brown rice diet cleansing plan is a natural cleansing diet, or detox diet, that tries to eliminate undesirable chemicals from the body’s intestines and colon through a high-fibre diet focused on brown rice.
Cleansing diets emerge from the alternative medicine approach to detoxification, which argues that the body has accumulated undesirable levels of various toxins and that these should be scrubbed from the system through strict diets or, in other cases, fasting. Intellectually, it is the modern-day descendant of ancient Mediterranean (Greek and Egyptian) ideas that an imbalanced diet resulted in the harmful concentration of foods which offset the natural and proper balance of the four humours. A cleansing diet is therefore one that, through particular restrictions, helps the body remove these unwanted toxins. Advocates of the brown rice diet (and certain other cleansing diets) often argue that, in addition to removing toxins from the body, it’s also a very effective way to lose weight.
According to natural health writer Dr. Linda Page, the brown rice diet follows a seven-day plan (after which, of course, it can be repeated, but the cleansing process is supposedly complete within one week). On the eve of the plan, have a vegan supper of green salad. Next, on day 1, instead of solid breakfast have a glass of lemon juice sweetened with syrup, an energy drink made from carrots, beets, and spinach, and a cup of tea. Lunch is again vegan – vegetable juice, plus various vegetable foods. Finally, for supper, eat brown rice and vegetables, perhaps with an herbal tea to drink. For the rest of the week, continue on a strict diet of brown rice, vegetables, and vegetable juice. There is some variety in diet prescriptions – JustCleansing.com, for instance, suggests adding fruit for breakfast and an afternoon snack, and having brown rice for both lunch and dinner each day.
The scientific basis for cleansing diets, including the brown rice diet, is still quite dubious. Cleansing diets in general are often frowned upon by the medical profession, especially because many medical researchers doubt the rationale in the first place (that various alleged toxins are present and must be removed). Scientific studies establishing that cleansing diets can remove toxins from pesticides and other chemicals are also lacking. For this reason, it is important to approach cleansing diets, including the brown rice diet, with a healthy dose of skepticism. The brown rice diet is a variant of the macrobiotic diet, which, although being popular as a natural diet for cancer patients, is still not of scientifically proven value.
In the case of the brown rice diet, it is easy to see some potential health benefits. Brown rice is definitely healthier than white rice, which has been stripped of the nutrient-rich husk, bran, and germ. A century ago, people even started developing a various serious malnutrition disorder (beriberi) because basing diets off polished white rice deprived them of Vitamin B1. Brown rice contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and small amounts of iron and calcium, all of which are vital in a healthy diet. However, particularly strict forms of the diet, such as the one recommended by Page, are unlikely to provide sufficient protein if they are attempted over the long-term. There is also no scientific explanation for a process by which the fibre from brown rice would have special cleansing effects in the body. Medical researchers today generally do agree that people need to up their fibre intake to reduce the risk of both colon cancer and heart disease. However, brown rice diet advocates have not yet proven that a restrictive brown rice diet can do that any better than maintaining a less restrictive diet but adding good sources of fibre.