Cleansing & Detoxing

Oh boy. The ever, so controversial topic of cleanses and detoxes.

Instead of headlines claiming to “Detoxify your body, leaving you refreshed, and with more energy!” they should read: “Starve your body, lose lean muscle mass, ruin your metabolism, and may cause severe electrolyte balances!” 🙂 haha…. okay, that was a little harsh, but really?

A nutritious juice here and there can be healthy for your body, but adhering to an all juice diet for days or weeks can do more harm than good. Detox diets are extreme, quick weight loss plans that claim to flush toxic chemicals from your body. Detoxing is based on the concept that your body needs help getting rid of unwanted toxins from contaminants in processed foods and the environment. In theory, once free of toxins, your body functions better and your metabolism soars so you can shed those extra pounds. Hmmm… sound too good to be true? You be the judge.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no scientific evidence that juice fasting provides any of the benefits that it’s proponents claim it does: it won’t reduce the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, aid in digestion or promote any kind of permanent weight loss. There are no studies available to document the benefits, instead most claims are based on testimonials.

You have the most complex detoxification system available. Your body’s organs: kidneys, liver, colon, lungs, spleen and skin have evolved over millions of years. All of the body’s natural “built-in” systems function continuously; it isn’t possible to “stimulate” or “repair” with a juice fast.

Cons (these are the cons of an all fruit/veggie juice detox):

  • A steady diet of juice can cause decline in muscle mass (due to low protein consumption), as well as thinning hair and nails (sounds like it’s really improving your appearance) 😉
  • With muscle loss, comes decreased metabolism—->> making it harder for your body to lose weight when you start eating regular foods again
  • Starving your body of key nutrients can weaken your immune system, resulting in poorer health
  • Inadequate fat intake causes malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Side effects: anemia, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, nausea, constipation, fatigue, irritability, diarrhea, headache. This sounds awesome! 🙂
  • Dangerous for people undergoing chemotherapy (high levels of antioxidants and low levels of protein are dangerous), diabetics (can cause hyperglycemia/hypoglycemia), people with nutritional deficiencies, older adults, pregnant and nursing women, people with eating disorders, and people with kidney disease (high levels of potassium and other minerals can build up in the kidneys, causing damage)
  • Juicing is not better than whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing removes fiber and nutrients found in the skin and seeds of the fruits & veggies
  • Most of the weight loss is due to water loss so when you start eating “regular” foods again… guess what happens to your weight?
  • Electrolyte imbalance. In extreme cases, this can cause cardiac arrest

Everyday Health wrote a great article about cleansing: A Guide to Common Cleanses

Rather than go on a juice cleanse, why not follow a healthy diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains? Restrict processed foods, alcohol, soda and sugar & salt loaded treats.  You would be surprised how great your body would feel if you simply ate what the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics recommends 🙂

Although, you can clearly see I am not a fan of detox diets… if you are going to do them anyways:

  • Please do them short term (3 days or less)
  • Under the supervision of your MD


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