‘Cleanses’ are a fashionable diet trend many turn to in an effort to lose weight, flush out toxins, give their digestive system a break and reset. But drinking only juice for a number of days straight is not as healthy as many think – most ‘cleanses’ actually end up doing more harm than good. In fact, your body naturally cleanses itself and does not need a specific diet or drink to do so.
Here are four myths about cleanses that you should know:
Myth: Cleanses detox and reset your body.
Fact: Our body naturally rids itself of toxic or unhealthy substances and does not need a concoction of teas and juices to do so. The liver processes the nutrients we eat and acts as a filter for harmful substances, while kidneys filter our blood and help to maintain balance within the body. Separately, our digestive system and other organ systems in the body break down and absorb what we need, while excreting what is potentially harmful.
If you still want to ‘detox’, try consuming a diet that is high in fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber helps slow digestion to better absorb nutrients and remove waste. Additionally, drinking plenty of water every day helps to ensure your body systems all function optimally keeping you continually healthy and feeling your best.
Myth: Cleanses improve overall health.
Fact: Many ‘cleanses’ claim to reset your body, but, in actuality, eating a very restrictive diet mostly composed of liquids is not beneficial. When you are not ingesting enough calories, which tends to occur during a juice cleanse, your body is starving and turns to breaking down muscle mass. Very low calorie diets can also slow metabolism, which can have a negative effect on weight and health long term. During these cleanses you will also be lacking in vitamins and minerals, which can cause a deficiency.
For an alternative healthy ‘reset’, instead try eating a well-balanced diet. Eating a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats will help your body naturally “cleanse” itself (function optimally).
Myth: Cleanses help you lose weight.
Fact: While a ‘cleanse’ may help you drop a few pounds in the short term, extremely restrictive diets only work while you’re doing them. Also, much of the initial weight loss is changes in fluid balance which will come back once regular diet resumes. Since consuming only liquids gets miserable quickly, most ‘cleanses’ do not last very long. Often at the end of a ‘cleanse’ you are so hungry that you will have intense cravings for abnormally high carb or high fat foods because those types of food give you energy and nutrients that you were lacking in. There is also a high risk of overeating because you have not eaten a full meal in a while; overeating could cause you to gain back any weight you might have lost and potentially even more.
If you are looking to a ‘cleanse’ in order to lose weight, instead try a gradual reduction of unhealthy foods and habits rather than doing it all at once. Try switching out soda or sugary drinks for water. Or reduce dessert to once a week instead of every night. Slow down and savor what you eat to ensure you stop eating at the first sign of fullness instead of being overfull. All of these good habits and tips will be more helpful in the long run than turning to a ‘cleanse’ for short term weight loss that often isn’t maintained.
Myth: Cleansing helps improve your energy.
Fact: Reduced caloric intake is more likely to cause fatigue than boost energy. Your body needs food to create energy.
Before turning to a drastic ‘cleanse’ to improve energy, instead try exercising for 150 minutes per week. Exercise helps improve overall health and has been proven by various studies to help people fall asleep faster. Getting enough sleep, between 7-8 hours a night, is key to improving your energy level.
Overall, juice and tea ‘cleanses’ are not a healthy option for detoxing, weight loss, and energy gain. There are many healthy ways to achieve the same results – there’s no need to drink only lemon juice with cayenne pepper for a month straight
*Source: Cleveland Clinic, www.clevelandclinic.org
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