Thinking about going on a cleanse diet? What do you know about them? If you’re like most, you may not know much. Don’t worry. Why? We give you all the details you need to know.
If you are like much of America, a big part of your approach to the onset of the spring season might include a new lease on your health. More specifically, it might include cleansing your body of any damage done over the holidays and the first couple months of 2017, and starting the spring on a fresher, lighter note.
Perhaps you are looking to shed some weight. Maybe you just want to break bad habits and give your eating habits a refresh. Or, maybe you want to kick to the curb binge eating or late night snack sessions. Whatever your health goals, partaking in some sort of a cleanse or detox diet to start the spring strong is a common approach.
In fact, there is even a good chance you’re already in the thick of a cleansing diet, have completed one in the past or are just considering one to give your body the reset it needs. For years, detox and cleansing diets have been all the rage. Any quick glance across social media of celeb, fitness model or trainer’s Instagram accounts will tell you as much. They range in shape and style, from juice cleanses, all out fasts, detoxing teas and supplements, and a wide variety of various diets.
What they have in common is they’re designed to rid your body of toxins and give your digestive system a break. The general claim about this type of dieting is that you are removing certain solid foods from your diet, eliminating toxins and giving your digestive system a chance to pause and reset, all while adding key nutrients and flushing agents into your diet.
That includes such things as cayenne pepper, superfoods, nothing but juices or more serious steps like pills or enemas.
While the diets get rave reviews, the darker side of potential drawbacks and boomerang effects have also gotten plenty of press in recent years. Let’s explore both sides of the issue.
We’ll take a close look at many of the most trendy cleansing diet options out there, and give you all the info to make the judgment of whether a cleanse diet is right for you.
Some Of The Most Popular Cleansing Diet Options
What follows are just a few of the headline-grabbing cleanses that have been making waves in the dietary scene in recent years.
Why the headlines?
The reason for their fame is as a result of the supposed health benefits and promises of a lighter, healthier and detoxed you. Everyone from Dr. Oz to the Kardashians has sung their praises and many do include some good basic premises of a healthy lifestyle.
Typically, a cleansing diet can last anywhere from a day to a month.
#1 Juice Cleanses
The 2015 calendar year was easily the year of juicing. If anything, the trend is only picking up stream. The basic idea behind juicing is that by consuming in liquid form a larger and more varied dose of veggies and fruits than most of us typically would get in a day by eating, you’re packing in a hefty dose of nutrients and minerals.
It’s true that it can be challenging to get in the recommended five doses of fruits and veggies in a day, and the one-stop-shop of drinking one juice per day with multiple doses is much more convenient. Many celebs have sung the praises of juicing. As well, almost all experts agree that it is never a bad idea to sneak in extra doses of produce.
Sadly, the downside is just as present too though. More specifically, watch out for high doses of sugar and falling into the trap of depriving yourself of any solid foods for too long. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that a simple juice cleanse is a cure-all that can erase any and all bad habits of unhealthy eating. You don’t have to look far to come across articles and celeb endorsements describing juicing as a simple way to erase any damage you’ve done. But, don’t be fooled into thinking it is a magic pill.
While no one argues against the idea that filling your body with more than usual amounts of vitamins, fruits, and veggies is a good thing, it’s not a magic fix. Also beware of thinking that the more you juice you drink the less you have to eat, and taking an extreme approach to juicing where you end up depriving your body of the solid foods and calories it needs. Juicing is great. Just don’t replace eating solids with juicing.
It won’t work!
#2 The Master Cleanse
The master cleanse got its moment in the spotlight mainly thanks to Beyonce lauding its perks. The star claimed to use this plan to slim down for her role a few years ago in Dreamgirls. Since that time, it’s blown up around social media.
The basic premise is simple if not strict: Nothing but a lemon water and cayenne pepper concoction is on the menu for a period of 10 days. That’s it! Nothing else is allowed, other than an herbal tea that goes with this liquid diet. While you’ll no doubt lose weight on such a restrictive diet, it’s not something you can sustain over the long term. You’re likely to feel cranky, irritable and hungry. Worse yet, it might just lead to overeating once it’s over and gaining back all that you lost.
#3 The Liver Cleanse
Your liver is a key organ.
It’s responsible for keeping a laundry list of bodily functions running at top notch. If your liver is off its normal game, the effects can manifest in a number of ways such as acid reflux, bloating, moodiness, high blood pressure or chronic fatigue.
There are many different types of liver cleanses, all designed to rid your body of toxins and reset your liver back to proper functioning. Most include the basics of removing toxic diets, drinking lots of vegetable juices and eating potassium-rich foods, plus adding in supplementary measures like coffee enemas and milk thistle and turmeric supplements.
The dark side has been pointed out though even by the FDA. In fact, the number two cause of hospitalization is from taking diet supplements. In other words, don’t enter into these diets lightly. Not only do many supplements not work as advertised, but since all drugs and medications are metabolized through the liver itself, they may actually do harm.
Are Cleanse Diets Really Necessary?
At the end of the day, the biggest discussion and criticism about cleanse diets is the simple question of: Isn’t the human body designed to cleanse itself?
In a nutshell, yes. The liver and internal organs are designed to cleanse the body and keep it flushed and functioning as it should.
Critics of cleanses and many experts argue that cleanse diets are therefore redundant at best and dangerous at worst. They underline what the body is meant to naturally take care of on its own. Without engaging in any types of diets, but just sticking to common sense healthy lifestyle habits, our kidneys, lungs and other organs are built to keep us detoxed totally naturally.
Many experts point to something of a paranoia in our modern world that without purposely cleansing with extreme diets, our bodies will be full of toxins. This, experts claim, is simply not true. The liver is already built to flush out waste from our systems, as do our kidneys. Our lungs exhale pollutants.
The body’s natural system is a well-oiled machine. If you are eating a clean diet with lots of fruits and veggies, and that’s low in high fat, sodium and sugar foods, your system isn’t going to be in need of a true detox. By making healthier eating choices, you are going to be doing your body more favors in the long run.
The thought process of “eat whatever you want, and then detox with a quick-fix diet” can be a harmful one, and in the end, does not hold water. You can’t simply undo a bad diet with a detox. And, your insides won’t need one in the first place, according to many experts, as long as you are filling your plate with healthy choices, to begin with.
This Is The Boomerang Effect
One of the main gripes that experts and regular people tend to have about the whole concept of embarking on a cleanse-or-detox style diet is the all-too-often boomerang effect that can occur right after you finish a cleansing diet. In short, many are not effective if a long-term, sustainable lifestyle is your goal.
While you, of course, will experience immediate weight loss, much of which will be water weight falling off, when your cleanse ends, what then? In many cases, when you resume your normal eating habits, or you reintroduce any solid foods at all, you can expect that the weight you lost as a result of depriving yourself of solid foods and certain food groups will all
In many cases, when you resume your normal eating habits, or you reintroduce any solid foods at all, you can expect that the weight you lost as a result of depriving yourself of solid foods and certain food groups will all come back.
That’s not to mention that the more extreme of the cleanses will often leave you feeling more deprived than refreshed and depleting your body of calories will only leave you often binging and overeating when it ends.
Finally, though many cleanses are based on the premise of avoiding solid foods and giving your body a chance to refresh itself, there’s actually little to no scientific proof that solid foods should be avoided. Our body is clearly meant to have them, and the fiber found in solid foods is needed for the digestive track to work as it should to naturally cleanse the body, absorb nutrients and remove toxins.
Depriving yourself of these only halts the built-in system your body is already equipped with to take care of any cleansing needs.
Pros And Cons Of The Cleansing Diet Plan
There are certainly many very real perks to the overarching concept of going on a cleanse diet. As long as you are choosing wisely and eating in a way that feels right for your body, you are certainly likely to minimize the amount of processed, sugar and fat-laden options.
As opposed to how you might normally eat, you are likely to be padding out your diet with far more fruits and veggies than you are used to, which is never a bad thing. You might also find some new favorite healthy foods that you might not have thought to try before, or even discover food sensitivities you didn’t know you had by eliminating common culprits like gluten and sugar.
On the flip side, a super-low calorie diet might leave you feeling groggy, sluggish and depleted.
This low-calorie lifestyle is certainly never meant to be sustained long term, and a healthy, average body cannot function as it should in this depleted mode for long. You’re likely also not going to be getting the right amount of carbs or protein, not to mention various other micronutrients and vitamins that a normal body needs while on this type of extreme deprivation.
As with any diet or new program, do not jump into a cleansing diet lightly without doing your due diligence and researching how your body might react. Many cleanses can work at the start. They can help you shed fat and water weight fast. With that said, they can also easily backfire if done wrong or by taking too extreme measures.
Pregnant women or those with any medical conditions should always consult a doctor before starting any cleanses. Anyone thinking about starting a detox-style diet should keep in mind that a cleanse is not a magic pill answer to every problem. Also, don’t forget that nothing will ever replace a clean, common sense set of nutrition and exercise habits, not even the most highly glorified of-the-moment diets.
By Emmy Schneider-Green
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