Do Cleanses Work?

There are a growing number of cleanses, detoxes, and other quick fixes that have flooded the market in recent years, as individuals look for solutions to different health conditions. Quite often these products boast claims of removing toxins from the body, accelerated weight loss, or a myriad of other “solutions” in hopes of earning the hard earned cash of consumers.
With an endless number of suggestions and products on the market, it may be difficult for an individual to sift through the information and make the right choices. Is there any truth to the claims these miracle cleanses make? Are they the answer to all of our problems, or just adding to the confusion by providing false claims and misinformation?

Know Your Enemy

The big claim of many of these items is that they remove the toxins from a person’s body. That sounds great, right? When asked if you would like to remove harmful substances from the body, who could possibly say no to that? One of the universal problems with many of these cleanses, is that they do not actually advertise which toxins they are trying to eradicate. In addition, consumers are unaware of which toxins may be in their bodies, the levels in which they exist, and the potential dangers or lack thereof. This basically creates a market of, “just trust us”, without any way of measuring the success or failure of a product.

Energy Misspent

In addition to money spent and time invested in the latest miracle cleanse, there are also some health risks involved as well. A typical cleanse is extremely low in calories, maxing out at 1200 per day and sometimes as low as 800. This can result in weakness, light-headedness, lethargy, and most certainly mood instability. For an individual attempting a longer-term detox, there may be an impact on vitamin levels, mineral levels, and muscle breakdown in the body. In addition, many of the popular cleanses result in dehydration and low electrolyte levels due to their laxative-like effects.

The Amazing Human Body

The good news is that the human body is amazingly capable of detoxing itself. In fact, it doesn’t need any special help in the form of the latest cleansing craze. At this very moment the body is busy removing toxins and trying to run as efficiently as possible. The skin, lungs, liver, and kidneys are all working to remove different toxins from the body and keep it alive. To put it in perspective, if toxins continued to build in the human body and were only released during an expensive cold-pressed juice cleanse, it would most likely be overrun and stop working before a person even got there.

Building New Habits

One of the major impacts that cleanses and detoxes have is that they encourage an idea that there is a quick fix to a problem. While everyone is looking for a fast way to undo the damage of their past behaviors, there will always be someone waiting to sell the “miracle” answer. It is important that individuals start to look at the entirety of their diet over a longer period of time and not focus just on a one or two week period. This would be the same concept as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day for 51 weeks a year with one week off to let their body detox. It is certainly easy to see the problem with this example.
The most important thing a person can do to help their body detox is to simply not get in the way. Let the body do what it naturally does and stop contributing to the problem in the first place. This includes reducing the amount of fast food, processed food, sugar sweetened beverages, and other food-like substances. By increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high quality protein, and other whole foods, an individual can help the body to function at it’s highest level.
Remember: Each time a person eats, they are either helping to fight disease or they are helping to fuel it!
no more diets

Dr. David Wiss became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in treating eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. Wise Mind Nutrition is an app-based interactive treatment program available for download now - https://wisemindnutrition.com/download.

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