Detox Plans: Pros and Cons of Cleanses

woman drinking waterMost of us have heard of popular cleansing diets or juice fasts that promise to detoxify our bodies and remove impurities that can build up in our digestive systems, cells and organs.

It sounds okay on the surface—taking a break from big meals, alcohol and caffeine and adding nutrient-dense produce every day… but does detoxing actually work?

It appears the answer is maybe. But probably not much. A main reason to hesitate with a “cleanse” is Mother Nature herself: your own body is built to be a detoxifying machine, and it works well in your gut when you’re regularly taking in food. Whether it’s your kidneys and liver filtering toxins you eat and drink, or your lungs filtering toxins you breathe, you’re set up to be pretty effective at getting rid of what your body can’t use to its benefit.

But if you’re considering a juice cleanse or similar detox diet to narrow possible causes of allergies, inflammation or food sensitivities, consider the following:

Cleansing Cons
  • You’re likely to experience hunger pangs, feelings of denial, and in some cases, notable expense, when following popular cleanses—all that, even when little to no scientific research supports the benefits
  • In the reverse, there are known risks with long fasts, insufficient nutrition or other “cleansing” procedures
  • Disturbances to the digestion process, lightheadedness or dizziness, restlessness or insomnia, and low energy, have all been associated with liquid cleanses and other very low calorie, low protein or no-fat diets

Why tolerate those kinds of risks or side-effects when you could choose a “cleansing” diet of whole, nourishing foods combined with limited exposure to processed foods, artificially ingredients and empty calories like sugar? If that approach sounds interesting, check out The Conscious Cleanse or The 10-Day Clean Eating Cleanse for examples, and these potential positive effects:

Cleansing Pros
  • You’ll probably drink more water—most cleanses call for this, and it’s a good thing
  • You’ll be asked to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fast food and processed food at a minimum… moderation is also a good thing
  • Many people say they feel lighter, more energized and clear-headed during a cleanse
  • If your cleanse suggests a diet focused on raw vegetables, fruit, and veggie/fruit juices, you’re likely to be getting more roughage than you might otherwise. This can also be a good thing, if it keeps you regular

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