Planning on a Spring Cleanse? Think twice before jumping onto this dangerous bandwagon!

If you have been following me for awhile, you most likely already know what my answer would be to the question, “What do you think about a fasting cleanse?” This is a question I get from clients from time to time. The biggest reason people decide to go on a “cleanse” is for weight loss, but often they convince themselves that it is for health reasons as well. My short answer is, of course, that I do not recommend cleanses and they are completely unnecessary – assuming you have lungs, a GI tract, kidney and a liver!

Although most people will survive a cleanse just fine, except that they may feel a little woozy, cranky and lack energy- cleanses are a waste of time. However, if you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic or have other medical concerns “cleansing” can be dangerous to your health and should be avoided. That energy that people claim they have after fasting is really the result of chemicals sent from your brain. Not to be confused with true vibrance!

If you are considering a “cleanse”, ask yourself why and what result are you planning on achieving. Cleanses appeal to our society’s need for a quick, simple fix. The bottom line is that while fasting will cause weight loss because of it’s low level of calories, this is the same as any low calorie diet. The weight loss will happen, but after the fast is over your body will regain any lost weight quickly and you will be back to square one and not any healthier than you were before!

So, what exactly are these toxins and should they be eliminated? Toxins are byproducts of food, air and water.  Daily we process toxins and eliminate them through sweat, urine and feces. Even healthy foods produce “toxins”. However, when we eat too much “junk” and drink too much alcohol or sugar, or otherwise abuse our body, we often gain weight, feel tired, and our skin can begin to loose it’s luster.

If your diet is currently filled with lots of processed foods and you eat food that is far from it’s original form- meaning the list of ingredients is a mile long- you may benefit from starting a “cleanse” of wholsome, organic food in it’s natural state. Filling your kitchen with a cart of groceries from Whole Foods may allow for gentle weight loss and lead you to feel more vibrant and energetic. Don’t spend money on some specially packaged cleanse, spend your money on wholsome food instead. Eliminating processed foods = a good idea. Eliminating all food in favor of liquids and pills = bad idea.

Keep in mind that most commercial detox diets and ‘programs’ are nutritionally unsubstantiated and do not provide even the minimal daily needs for calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate.  By definition, then, a detox diet is not to be followed for any length of time. Avoid programs that promote “cleansing” substances to “purify”, “cleanse” or “detoxify these are buzzwords for laxative and diuretic substances.  Programs that claim to cure diseases or medical conditions should be given wide berth.

As with any packaged diet product or claim, buyer beware. Your body has systems in place that are completely capable of cleansing toxins from your body in the form of waste. The best medicine for clearing out some toxins is plain old H2O, make sure you get 8-10 glasses a day!

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Hi! I'm Heather: a body positivity, Health at Every Size dietitian. When I'm not blogging about wellness, I'm spending time with my fabulous family. Sometimes, they wear me out, so then it's time to bake, read, knit, tie myself into a yoga pose, or continue to work my first novel... stay tuned.