Do Diet Cleanses Really Work?

orangeA new year means a new you, right? Part of this new you may include some popular diet, detox or cleanse you’ve heard about through the grapevine. Maybe your co-worker’s husband’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin got healthy and shed some holiday pounds through drinking only prune juice for a week.

There are diet “cleanses” out there that claim to detoxify your body, but what’s the truth? Do they really work, and are they safe? Here’s the skinny on the “cleanse.”

What is a Cleanse?

A cleanse is a type of detox diet that tends to be short-term. It is claimed that they eliminate toxins from the body through fasting and then following a strict diet of fruits, vegetables and water. Some cleanses may also involve supplements, special herbs or teas as well.

It is claimed that these cleanses:

  • “Rest” organs through fasting
  • Stimulate the liver to rid the body of toxins
  • Improve circulation
  • Provide healthy nutrients for the body

Do Cleanses Really Work?

The evidence behind these diets is merely anecdotal. Some people may say they feel like they have more energy or are more focused during or right after the cleanse. It’s more likely that people report feeling this way simply because they have avoided processed foods, alcohol and other unhealthy things for a period of time.

On the flip side, however, people report feeling unwell during the cleanse. This is because cleanses incorporate a severe calorie restriction and that can result in irritability and fatigue. Fasting long-term can also result in reduced energy and deficiencies of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs for good health.

Should Cleanses Be Avoided?

There are some groups of people who should never attempt a diet like this, even short-term. This includes:

  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Lactating women
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or an eating disorder

You also never drastically change your diet without first consulting a medical professional that knows your medical history, such as your chiropractor.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to be healthier in the new year, it’s not really clear if a cleanse will help you to accomplish this. Your body eliminates most toxins on its own without the help of a cleanse and does a pretty bang up job of it too. The real key is to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. You don’t have to take drastic measures such as a cleanse to be healthier and happier!

Image used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Catherine Sharman

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