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Should You Think Twice Before Doing A ‘Cleanse’?

Written by Courteney

Posted on March 31, 2016 at 9:10 pm


Cleanses of all varieties are trendy nowadays. Companies have even taken on the name “detox”, flippantly repurposing a serious medical term meaning lifesaving removal of toxic or lethal substances from the body. Many people report success with cleansing, but from a medical standpoint the benefits are unclear. Certain store-bought cleanses may even be counterproductive to your intestinal health.

How Effective Are Juice Cleanses?

Juicing has blown up in the last couple years as the latest health fad. Enthusiasts claim it can fight diseases such as cancer and make you a much healthier human, but there is little empirical research to show the benefits of juicing over simply eating the fruits and veggies whole. Actually, it is arguable that you may be lacking fibre and some other key components of your produce by running it through a juicer. Juicing can be risky if the person is solely consuming juice for too long, as the body will quickly start relying on fat storage for the calories it is lacking.

Benefits Of Juicing

We aren’t saying juicing is without its benefits. Juicing can provide a more exciting way to consume fruits and veggies for those who don’t like to eat them, combined with the fact that juicers are more likely to engage in other health-conscious behaviours such as exercising regularly. Many people report feelings of revitalization and health improvements following juice cleanses, possibly because they are consuming more fruit and veggies than they usually would (which is another plus – more of the good stuff). So, while we recognize the effects of juicing aren’t medically proven, we believe it can be a great addition to an overall healthy lifestyle when combined with healthy eating. At the end of the day, any fruits and veggies are good fruits and veggies no matter how you consume them!

What Do Doctors Think Of Cleanses?

There are doctors out there who would recommend certain cleanses for specific ailments, but most doctors will likely tell you the effects of cleansing are unproven, therefor they don’t endorse it. Dr. Nasir Moloo, a gastroenterologist with C.G.C.M. in Sacramento, California, feels cleanses are redundant. He asserts, “Your body does a perfectly good job of getting rid of toxins on its own, there’s no evidence that these types of diets are necessary or helpful. While there are medical conditions that interfere with organ function and prevent the body from clearing toxins, healthy people already have a built-in detoxification system — the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin.”

Risky “Rapid Weight Loss Detoxes”

Store-bought ‘rapid weight loss’ cleanses can be downright dangerous. If you read the boxes you’ll see many harbour warnings to the consumer to use caution, going on to list potential side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach upset, dehydration or in extreme cases life-threatening perforation of intestinal lining. Other side effects can include fatigue, headache, general pain and mood swings. Many cleanses and detox programs have not proven effective for weight loss. People may lose a few pounds initially with these “quick fixes”, but studies predict that most people will pile more weight on in the following weeks and months.

The Dangers Of Colonic Irrigation

While store-bought cleanses and detoxes can bother anyone’s stomach and cause unpleasant side effects, certain types of cleansing (particularly colonic irrigation) can be especially dangerous for people who suffer certain ailments. People with kidney disease or heart problems have trouble maintaining proper fluid levels in their bodies, so irrigation or other cleansing methods can worsen this issue. Those with connective tissue disorders or gastrointestinal problems such as colitis can risk flare-ups or potentially dangerous effects such as colonic damage from irrigation.

Can You Safely Cleanse?

There is a healthy way to cleanse your body, and it doesn’t involve a hundred horse pill supplements, dangerous ‘weight loss detoxes’ or completely eliminating solid foods. Cleansing your body of toxic junk and the sugar jones is pretty simple, really. Just liberally drink water and gradually add more fibre-rich fruits and veggies into your diet while subtracting refined sugar and simple carbs.  A good way to kick-start weight loss and healthy eating is to stick to high protein, lower fat meats (such as turkey), fish, non-starchy and leafy green veggies, and legumes with only fruit for dessert. Following a diet like this can cleanse your body by breaking that dependence we all have on sugar and simple carbs in a gradual, healthy way. You can eventually add in your favourite “not-so-healthy” foods in much lower doses as occaisonal treats, but to kick start things try to cut the guilty pleasures out. This healthy dietary “cleanse” will nourish the body with all the vitamins and minerals it requires without using harsh, gut-irritating supplements.

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