Cleanse Diet Reviews

Medically reviewed by Anthony Dugarte M.D.


What is a Cleanse Diet?

A cleanse diet refers to any diet that helps promote detoxification or the elimination of toxins that reside within the body. Toxins within the body can come from different sources. Typically, these toxins are picked up from waste products, normal cell activity like lactic acid, ammonia, and homocysteine. Other toxins can accumulate in the body through environmental issues such as chemicals present in our food or water. Typically, the body cleanses these toxins through our liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, and lymphatic systems.

Cleanse diets can promote weight loss, offer an alternative for those seeking a healthy lifestyle, and promote energy within the body. Many people find that the accumulation of unhealthy foods makes them sluggish. When participating in various cleanse diets, these people tend to feel as if a weight was lifted out of their bodies.

Cleanse diets generally follow the same outline.

  • Minimize chemicals by eating foods that are organic.
  • Consume foods that promote vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients.
  • Always eat plenty of fiber and drink plenty of water. This helps to promote healthy bowel movements, and aids in detoxification. This can also promote weight loss.
  • Some cleanse diets include juicing and drinking certain liquids.

Medical Conditions Associated with Toxin Accumulation

It is suggested that the chemicals we ingest through foods, water, and air are stored within our fat cells. Toxins like this include things such as pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, food packaging chemicals, laundry detergents, household cleaners, various heavy metals, pollution, cigarette smoke, and drug use.

Some research claims that this overload is known as ‘body burden.’ Proponents claim this high yield of toxins in the body can cause a person to feel ill. Illnesses said to be linked to these toxins, including hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and a sub-par immune system. Some of the symptoms associated with these conditions are the following:

  • Muscle Pain
  • Poor Concentration
  • Indigestion
  • Bad Breath
  • Poor Skin Condition
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness

Many people choose to partake in a cleanse diet for minor issues such as persistent bloating. Cleanse diets are utilized in the hopes the participants will be able to engage in weight loss.

How Effective are Cleanse Diets?

The effectiveness of a cleanse diet somewhat subjective. There is not an array of clinical trials completed showing the efficacy of a cleanse diet. Preliminary research, completed mostly on animals, have shown that there are in fact foods that promote detoxification.

Studies from NCBI suggest foods such as coriander, nori and olestra have detoxification properties. However, as mentioned above these studies were completed on laboratory animals.

Other experts do not share the same opinion. Dr. Michael Gershon, who is a professor of cell biology, and pathology says “The body is well equipped to get rid of toxins all on its own.”

Bodies Natural Detox System

The human body has a magnificent system for ridding the body of toxins. The liver is considered the main detoxing organ in the body. Everything that an individual eats or breathes in is transferred through the bloodstream, and then passes through the liver. According to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care “the body depends on the liver to regulate, synthesize, store and secrete many important proteins and nutrients and also to purify, transform and clear toxic or unneeded substances.”

Another thing that is often advertised within cleanse diets is the idea of cleansing the liver. However, it is a known fact that toxins are often not stored within the liver. Instead, the liver turns chemicals that are potentially harmful to water-soluble chemicals. These chemicals can then be sweated and excreted from the body.

In general, the liver does a fantastic job when it comes to detoxing the body. There are, of course, exceptions to this. Those who suffer from liver conditions such as Hepatitis A, B, or C and alcohol-related liver conditions may find that their liver has a difficult time detoxing the body. Interestingly, there is no evidence to suggest that participating in a cleanse diet, for those with liver disease, is any more helpful in detoxing the body.

Fat Cells

Other methods used in cleansing diets are juicing, the use of raw diets, and green solutions. Many fanatics of cleaning diets claim that by fasting or juicing, you burn fat cells. In turn, these fat cells contain said toxins. So, a chain of events leads to burning off the toxins within the body. Although many people claim success when participating in these methods, there is lacking research to prove so.

It is dangerous to fast or put extreme limitations on the food that we consume on a daily basis. By fasting, you place extreme stress on the body and create the risk of dehydration. Typically, the bodies own cleansing systems (the liver, kidneys, and intestines) are flawless at correcting horrible diet choices. However, when it comes to fasting or juicing, the consequences can be devastating to the body.

The Colon Cleanse

A common claim with cleansing diets relates to cleansing the colon. According to The Mayo Clinic “Researchers at Georgetown University conducted a comprehensive review of the medical literature and found absolutely no scientific support of the practice of detoxifying the colon.” It was also found that a colon cleanse can do more harm than good.

The colon is home to many of the microbes in our body. These microbes are important to keep the body functioning smoothly. When those microbes are upset, as with the case of antibiotics, bacteria can wreak havoc on our bodies. There are many side effects associated with colon cleanses alone.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain

Benefits Linked to Cleanse Diets

Some research has shown that there are some benefits to cleanse diets. Some benefits of participating in cleanse diets include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Clear Skin
  • Reduction in Inflammation
  • Reduction in Bloating
  • Regulate Bowel Movements

Alongside these common vocalized benefits, many people also claim to have a general feeling of well being and improved sleep.

Common Side Effects Associated with Cleanse Diets

There are also common side effects relating to the use of cleansing diets. Some of these side effects can become very dangerous, and even life-threatening. Let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints, and side effects associated with participating in a cleanse diet.

  • Excessive Diarrhea
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Lightheaded
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Irritability

The Bottom Line on a Cleanse Diet

When it comes to detoxing the body, our bodies have a fantastic system for cleaning toxins. Our kidneys and our liver, when healthy, can handle the detoxification of the many chemicals presented to us in our daily lives. However, it is always a great idea to incorporate a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables. It is also suggested that people participate in consuming whole wheat, increase water intake, and cut back on sweetened, sugary beverages.

Research may be lacking when it comes to cleansing diets. However, by making sure you get enough fiber in your balanced diet, you ensure that you create a healthy digestive tract, and allow your body to cleanse itself naturally.

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