Coming Clean on Cleanses

I’m not a big fan of the whole cleanse fad.

I’m all for improving our body’s ability to detoxify, eating more vegetables to correct our body’s pH, and I love a good sauna, but there are aspects that don’t sit well with me. The cleanse mania can feel like a marketing ploy, some cleanse strategies are inappropriate for certain health conditions, and some are downright dangerous for anyone.

Please note that I’m using the term “cleanse” to describe a wide range of procedures. But for everyone who has felt the benefits, there is someone who made themselves seriously ill. A cleanse can make a world of difference if done correctly, and I recommend you do any procedure with the aid of a nutrition professional.

Here are my biggest concerns:

1. Cleanses that claim to fix a wide range of ills.

Cleanses are not a cure all. I would recommend opposite protocols to someone with liver/gallbladder issues versus a person with yeast/bacterial issues. A safer route would be to reduce or eliminate foods that are a problem for many people, such as gluten, sugar, dairy or caffeine, or seek support from a nutrition professional for a more personalized approach.

2. Cleanses easily slip into dangerous eating disorder territory.

Cleanses remind me too much of crazy diets, and the motive behind both are very similar. “Right now I am dirty, fat, unworthy slob, so I’m going to do penance and severely restrict myself for a specific period of time, and when I’m done I will be pure and clean and thin and worthy of love again.” When else would it be considered reasonable to drink only lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for a week?

3. Cleanses can cause more damage than good.

You need more than water, juice or fiber to detoxify. This is why most people feel like death warmed over after a dramatic cleanse. You won’t be cleaner for having suffered through this process. You may become more toxic, however. The first stage of detoxification releases stored toxins into the bloodstream, but eliminating said toxins is an elaborate process. You may feel awful due to the havoc the toxins have put on your system.


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