From detox teas to cleansing kits complete with supplements and drink powders, detox diets and body cleanses remain a popular trend. Detoxes and cleanses promise to remove toxins from your body, help strengthen your immune system, boost energy, lead to weight loss and even brighten skin. But before you jump on the detox bandwagon, it’s always important to make sure anything you put your body through is safe, healthy and meets your specific goals.
5 Things to Consider Before Doing a Detox or Cleanse
While most detoxification and cleansing kits provide specific instructions and supplements to help you along the way, you should also factor:
Cleanse Your Body Naturally
Did you know that your body naturally detoxes itself? “Detox is a key component to optimal health and happens naturally, but must be done with the right foods and supplements,” explains Dr. Lori Shemek, a certified nutritionist, psychologist and weight loss expert. “Your body is an expert at knowing how to detox.”
Eating the right foods and making good lifestyle choices will reduce inflammation of the body and is the best thing to do for a healthier you. “You can support liver health [for starters], with a healthy diet high in antioxidants and eat foods that are high in sulfur (like cruciferous veggies),” Shemek says.
“When thinking about a detox, a fad program is not the way to go,” adds Rachel Kreider, a registered dietitian and supplement formulator for BodyBuilding.com. “Look at your overall food intake and look for places where you can make changes to clean up your act.” In general, you should avoid foods that are high in fat, high in simple carbohydrates and fried.
Types of Cleanses and Detoxes
If you still want to kickstart your health or reset your body with a trusted cleansing program, here are your options:
Juice Cleanses: Lasting anywhere from a few days to several weeks, these are typically programs where you’d consume only fruit and vegetable juices while abstaining from eating food. You can either buy the juices from a trusted provider, or follow a recipe that may include kale, pineapple, lemon and ginger.
Smoothie Cleanses: Like juice cleanses, smoothie cleanses also last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The main difference with these is, they’re generally higher in fiber, protein and calories than their juice counterparts. Some are vegetable-and-fruit-based, while others come with powders to blend with water and enjoy. You can also follow smoothie recipes that include kiwis, celery, spinach and kale.
Soup-Based Cleanses: While most of these require you to use a recipe and make your own soup (like the cabbage-soup diet and the chicken detox soup), some companies offer programs to warm your tummy when juicing is not for you. As far as duration goes, soup-cleanses can last anywhere from three days and up.
Tablets and Capsules: Many cleanses involve taking tablets or capsules to activate your body for detoxing. For example, activated coconut charcoal products promote your body’s natural detoxification process by capturing and eliminating unwanted toxins. Other products may use a blend of herbs and botanicals, such as cascara sagrada powder, licorice and ginger root, to proactively eliminate toxins from the body.
To make the right decision for you, Kreider warns, “Anything that is making promises of curing or preventing any health condition is something that should be a red flag.”
Shemek also cautions on doing detoxes and cleanses too often. Doing so will ultimately slow down your metabolism, which can then lead to weight gain.
Precautions for Detoxing and Cleansing
If you have diabetes or a kidney disease, are going through chemotherapy, are pregnant or are dealing with an eating disorder, you should absolutely not be doing any detox or cleanse, Shemek advises. Also, if you are trying to put on muscle mass, you’re not a good candidate either, as these types of programs promote muscle loss.
“Those under the care of a physician for any reason should consult their physician with the details of the program they’re considering before engaging,” Kreider adds.
If weight loss is your goal, you may drop a few pounds and water weight, but it’s hard to keep those pounds off once you’re off the cleanse, unless you make healthier lifelong choices.
“Fruit juice is high in sugar fructose and fructose is a burden to our liver,” Shemek explains. “Not only is fructose the only sugar metabolized by the liver, in excess, it also promotes an inflammatory condition called ‘glycation,’ which caramelizes the tissue of the liver and other bodily tissues.”
The liver is our number-one fat-burning organ and when compromised, weight loss and optimal health stalls.