Should Cleanses Be a Part of Your Dietary Routine?

Cleanses come in many different forms.  Juicing is one popular option.

Cleanses come in many different forms.  Juicing is one popular option.

This is a very controversial topic.  And the web is full of information about cleanses—both pro and con.  So should you or shouldn’t you.  Let’s have a look at both sides of the argument.

Cleanses Just Aren’t Necessary

You will find it very difficult to find anyone in conventional medicine that will promote cleanses as a way to rid your body of toxins.  They will tell you that cleanses do not work.  They are all hype with no research to back up any of the claims.  In fact, your body is designed to detox naturally.  Your organs, including the liver and kidneys don’t build up toxins.

Top Reasons to Avoid Cleanses:

1.       They can lower metabolism.  Most cleanses involve limiting caloric intake.  When you do this your body goes into starvation mode and instead of getting rid of fat, it stores it to use in the future for energy.  Your body responds by getting rid of water weight and muscle mass.  As you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows down even more.  Ultimately, you will have to increase caloric intake and your slowed metabolism causes the weight to come back even more quickly.

2.       Cleanses do not detox the body.  Our bodies are designed to keep our insides clean.  Our livers and kidneys sole function is to filter out the things that are harmful and get rid of them.  Our gut is the first line of defence, allowing much of what we eat that is not needed to go right through and out through feces.

3.       Cleanses often cause a nutrient shortfall.  Major food restrictions can result in your body not receiving key nutrients it needs to function properly.  It is highly unlikely that your body will get all the healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and proteins it needs.  Even less restrictive cleanses that allow fruits and vegetables do not provide healthy fats required for some vitamins to do their jobs or for the production of certain hormones.  Protein is required to build muscle.

4.       Supplements may pose a risk.  Many people do over the counter detoxes that involve taking supplements, laxatives, and diuretics.  It’s important to note that these supplements are not regulated and don’t always fully disclose what is in them.  Also, the foods and supplements may not have been scientifically tested and verified.

Many cleanses claim to detox the body.

Many cleanses claim to detox the body.

Advantages of Cleansing

Proponents of cleansing will tell you that our world now contains more toxins than any other time in our history.  Exhaust from our cars and chemicals in our food, for example, have resulted in so much toxin build up in our organs and tissues that our bodies need extra help to release it all.  Detoxing, they claim, is a way to recharge, rejuvenate, and renew. 

Top Reasons to Cleanse:

1.       Increased energy throughout the day.  Though many people report increased fatigue over the first few days of cleansing, they also report that after the initial slump their energy increases dramatically.

2.       Helps to reset your food choices and control cravings.  Done properly, cleanses help you to change the way you eat and the food choices you make.  An effective detox diet aims to cut out toxic foods and control cravings.

3.       Cleansing can help curb food addictions.  It’s important to distinguish between a craving and an addiction.  Proponents of cleanses claim that many modern-day junk foods contain ingredients that create a surge in dopamine, therefore causing susceptible individuals to become addicted.  Eliminating addictive foods while cleansing can support someone recovering from such an addiction.

4.       Cleansing improves skin and hair.  And who doesn’t want better skin and hair.  If cleansing helps to clean your organs so they can work better, well of course your skin will improve.  It is after all the largest organ of your body.

5.       Cleansing promotes healthy changes.  Many people use cleanses as a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle. A cleanse can help you to reset—to move from old habits to new healthier habits. 

We all like to indulge at times.  Don't we?  Cleanses can help you get back on track.

We all like to indulge at times.  Don't we?  Cleanses can help you get back on track.

I do cleanses on occasion.  I usually do them after a period where I feel I have not been particularly wise in my food choices.  Maybe after the holidays.  Who doesn’t indulge over the holidays?  I do it for reasons 2 and 5.  I find cleansing helps me to draw a line in the sand and go from not so healthy habits, to making better choices for myself.  It helps me, and motivates me when I am able to place a clear division that I can identify as the moment of change. 

If you are looking for a way to motivate yourself into moving from a diet high in processed foods and unhealthy fats to one based on eating clean, a cleanse might be a great way to get started.  What I would caution against is doing anything too restrictive.  There are many different cleanses and you have to be careful what you choose.  Do your research and ensure you are not overly restricting calories, or limiting essential nutrients.  The more restrictive the cleanse is, the shorter it should be.  If you have health concerns always cleanse under the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist.  Remember the end result is to put fewer toxins in your body so it can function at its optimum and do the job it was designed to do.

Do you have detox stories you can share?  I would love to hear about what you have done and your results.  Tell us all about it below.