Should you trust a cleanse diet?

“I got this email from Jenny in accounting that said I could lose a few kilos with a simple cleanse. I could lose a few centimetres off the side, maybe I’ll be able to drop a dress-size! Time to give it a try.”

Stop, stop, stop! Step away from the cleanse diet. These eating programmes, also known as detox diets, are very popular and believed to be effective when it comes to losing weight and feeling refreshed.

There are different recipes for the cleanse diet on the internet, but almost all of them involve replacing a meal with a glass of water mixed with a variety of ingredients. This “natural” way to detox your body is so popular that we often see it on our Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds and even our junk mail. Problem is, there’s not a lot of scientific data to back many of these detox plans.

Most popular Cleanse

The most well-known cleanse is the Master Cleanse developed by Stanley Burroughs. The basic concept is to go on a 10 day juice fast and consume nothing but a very specific drink in order to lose weight. This drink is a combination of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the dieter had to take a laxative as well. There are other variations that include honey and cinnamon.

Did it work?

Strangely, yes. The detox diet was very effective in sudden weight loss. However, it’s not as simple as you think. There aren’t a lot of calories in the drink, so your quick weight loss is due to not consuming any calories. The laxatives will also help you lose weight, but that weight loss isn’t fat, it will most likely be water weight.

The problem with the diet is that you’ll pick up the weight just as quickly as you lost it. This restrictive diet, in combination with the laxative, has a negative effect on your metabolism, healthy gut bacteria and your digestive system. Also, there are no good nutrients going into your body for at least 10 days – this can increase your risk to get sick, because your immune system is taking a lot of strain.
But what if weight loss isn’t your goal? What if you just want to rejuvenate and detox your body?

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When do I need to Detox?

Never.

There are many different opinions on this, but, unfortunately, not enough studies to prove any benefit to detox-diets. Your body detoxes itself. Your liver is one heck of an organ. It filters all the gross and unhealthy parts of your body and makes sure that it doesn’t break your body.

Then why do I still feel gross? Is my liver broken?

If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine, or stimulants, or if you eat unhealthy / processed foods, your liver has to work hard to get rid of all the toxins. Here’s the first thing to remember: time heals most things. Your liver is amazing, but it needs time to do its job and it’s not going to work any faster if you starting pumping lemon juice into your system.

Secondly, the more you party, the more strain you put on your liver, which means a longer wait to feel wonderful again.

If you don’t want to feel gross ever again, then change your lifestyle. Follow a healthy eating plan, with only moderate alcohol. Apart from the liver damage, and other risks with excess alcohol, you also put yourself at risk to diabetes!

As with every other body part: be kind to your liver ,and it will be kind to you.

Sources: LiveStrong, LiveStrong , Wikipedia: The Master Cleanse