Superfoods like kale, beetroot, ginger and capsicum are great but not everyone has the stomach for them. Without sufficient greens at every meal, there will surely be some form of long-term health detriment.
Just ask Mark Leong, CEO and co-founder of homegrown health company Farmz Asia, who started the company in 2016 to provide food education to support people with obesity, cancer, diabetes or other chronic diseases.
“For us to truly take care of our bodies and to look and feel great, we need to start with our food,” he says, advocating real food over man-made alternatives. “These days, everything is fast and convenient at the expense of human lives. Meatless burgers seem healthy but are often highly processed and injected with chemicals such as ‘heme’ that signal to our brain that we’re eating meat. If it comes at a detriment to our health, what kind of balance are we trying to bring to the world?”
As a microbiologist and certified practitioner in food science and nutrition, Leong leads a multimillion-dollar organisation that aims to be the gold standard in food safety and nutrition guidance.
“We’re in the health business to dispel myths and take back what’s been lost to an entire generation fed on processed foods and low to no-nutrition fare. We’re here to uncover the truth behind food marketing jargon and educate as many people as possible on food safety and eating foods in their real natural forms,” he says.
Farmz Asia founders Mark Leong (right) and Chong Ooi Mun
Recognised as Asia’s first juice guru and conferred as one of the Top 100 Healthcare Leaders by IFAH International Forum for Advancement in Healthcare, Leong pioneered a food revolution movement with his 23-day juicing detox programme called “Eat Right Live Right” to help customers reboot their internal systems and flush out all the nasties responsible for their chronic health issues. “Not only do we offer the fastest weight loss results, but unlike other companies, we teach people about the food that they’re eating through ‘edutainment’. We do more than teach you how to cook food for your chronic conditions,” he adds.
“We believe in the facts, and fad diets are never the answer. That’s why our dietary advice is based on thorough research conducted by our team of scientists, toxicologists and dieticians. After coming to our workshops, maintaining a clean diet no longer becomes a factor of convenience or price, it becomes a factor in your quality of life.”
Co-founder Chong Ooi Mun puts it this way: “A lot of people think they are eating healthily but in fact they are not. We’re eating a lot of highly-processed food and not enough real food. This causes a buildup of toxins in the body, and over time our organs that are responsible for flushing out waste are unable to carry out the tasks properly. In the long run, this may bring about disease, so it is important to detox regularly.”
Chong adds detoxing could help individuals who are experiencing obesity issues lose the weight that they have not been able to shed. It could also help improve conditions for individuals with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Titan Pro Series Juicer is sold by Farmz
To fully understand this, I underwent the complete programme, which would typically cost just over $7,000. This steep price to optimal health includes a detailed health analysis, onboarding workshop, pre- and post- one-on-one consultations, reading materials like Leong’s book From Flabby to Fitty in 23 Days, a starter kit of teas, olive oil, Epsom salt, empty glass bottles, a Titan cold press juicer and plenty of hand-holding by Farmz’s detox “angels” who will guide you every step of the way.
You also gain access to Farmz Revivals’s membership club which offers helpful information on health and nutrition, educational videos and useful recipes.
The game plan
As part of the programme, we are to do the juicing ourselves with the provided juicer by following the prepared recipes. But for the time-strapped, Farmz can also plan and send over 23 days-worth of juices for an additional fee, which is what I opted for. Still, the best way to really strike a real friendship with fruits and vegetables is to juice them yourself.
“In most typical diets today, people don’t consume enough nutrients from fruits and vegetables. By juicing, it supplements your daily nutritional intake and allows better absorption in liquid form,” says Chong.
Certain juice blends also help to facilitate the flushing of gallstones which can calcify and cause severe inflammation in the gallbladder (or bile duct). “If you do not flush the stones out, they will continue to accumulate in your body, thus causing the liver and gallbladder to work even harder throughout your whole life,” she warns.
She advises that it is good to cleanse the liver and gallbladder twice a year. The alternative to this would be to go on a plant-based diet for at least 12 to 18 months.
I will be honest, this detox programme is not for the faint hearted. For the amount of money you are investing in for improved health and eventual weight loss, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that have to be made.
For one, you have to give up alcohol and coffee, or at least reduce portions in the beginning, plus no red meat, processed or fried food, heavy gravies or dressings, and supplements (like calcium pills, omega and multivitamins). Also, you will have to drink water according to your body weight — for most adults, that is about three litres of water a day. It is a detox, after all.
The programme is split into three phases. For the first 10 days, you can continue to enjoy a fish-based diet with at least five colours (of vegetables) in your food, combined with juices designed to clear the colon and kidney. In the second phase, you will move onto an all-vegetarian diet for seven days and drink juice blends that will help to detox the liver and flush out gallstones (fun times). The third and final phase, you will just be on a full liquid diet for seven days, drinking a different juice every two hours.
The last phase felt almost impossible to do, and I was listless and agitated for the first four days. But after that, I felt energetic and alive for the remaining days. I strongly suggest you clear your annual leave this time so you do not worry about nodding off at work!
And just like that, I lost 4kg after 23 days, by simply eating right and incorporating more greens into my drinks, without any need for exercise. My skin glowed and my weight remained the same even after slowly transitioning back to a solid food diet.
The challenge after that would be how to keep the kilos off, and hopefully lose more. On the plus side, I have picked up some good habits such as drinking warm water first thing in the morning and enjoying a juice before my breakfast.
I also employ Farmz’s 80/20 rule to eating: I eat less red meat and processed food, and try to eat clean 80% of the time so that I can have cheat days for the other 20%. As for juicing, it is hard to stick to the provided recipes in Farmz’s books but as long as they are 80% vegetables and 20% fruit, that is definitely meeting my daily quota of essential vitamins and fibre.