Team pHion
February 28, 2015

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

One of the most popular trends today are cleanses which make a variety of promises including weight loss, increased energy, a rejuvenated digestive system, great skin and increases in sex drive. Cleansing has replaced dieting  - now considered negative and unhealthy - in our culture; in fact, most people assume all cleanses are healthy. Is this true? Let’s consider the pros and cons of cleansing as well as the claims made by the cleanses.

Weight Loss: Cleanses like the Master Cleanse and other juice cleanses usually involve a liquids only diet for ten days or longer. Because these cleanses are so calorie restrictive, the body goes into starvation mode and burns fat instead burn lean mass. Weight lost on this cleanse is regained as soon as a normal diet is resumed, often as fat.

Dietary cleanses can also cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and diarrhea. Other side effects include fatigue, insomnia, weakness, headaches, dizziness and extreme irritability. Some cleanse diets allow you to eat fruits and vegetables and encourage you to drink water, factors which will can a cleanse healthier and easier on your body.
Detox: Certain cleanses claim to “detox” the body from a number of unspecified toxins. While it is true we encounter a number of toxins in the environment and in our food, there is no scientific evidence that cleanse/detoxes are more effective than the organs in our body designed to rid us of toxins: the kidneys, liver and intestines. These organs are sophisticated mechanisms designed to process toxic substances like alcohol and drugs, excrete ammonia and heavy metals and prevent carcinogens from entering the bloodstream. A calorie restrictive cleanse can interfere with these systems by irritating the gastrointestinal system and causing dehydration which can lead to kidney and urinary tract complications.
“Resting” the gut: Some cleanses claim there is a benefit in “resting” the gut by only consuming liquids, thereby allowing it to more easily absorbing nutrients. In reality, the gut works best when it has a constant flow of a variety of healthy fibrous, nutrient-rich foods. This allows the beneficial gut bacteria to flourish and keeps the gastrointestinal system’s pH at an optimal level.
Are there any reasons to cleanse? A short cleanse to lose a few pounds for a special occasion is reasonable for a healthy individual, and it can also be a good way to jump start a new diet. An oral colon cleanse, designed to fully evacuate your large intestines, may give you relief from severe constipation. It is also used before undergoing certain medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy. Many people report that a 24-hour cleanse energizes the body and mind.
If you do decide to use a cleanse, make sure you consult your doctor. It’s also important to define what you want to get out of your cleanse. Make sure you research the products and regimens to find the right cleanse for your needs.