To Cleanse Or Not To Cleanse, That Is The Question…

It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up and the sudden urge to emerge from our winter hibernation hits us.  We’ve put on a few pounds and we need to get ready for summer. The question that I’m being asked more and more frequently is, “What do you think about a cleanse?” To cleanse or not to cleanse?

Let me start by making the general statement that I don’t believe that “cleansing” the body is a good idea for everyone or that one particular methodology is safer or more effective for the general population. That being said, I also don’t believe that mixing lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne into a jug and drinking it solely for a week is an effective or safe way to cleanse or create any sort of healthy change in the body. But I digress.

I believe that for many of us, our diets have become less clean. We are overrun with processed foods, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified products that are wrecking havoc on our bodies. These are often coupled with undue stress, lifestyle choices and constant overstimulation. Because of this, a solid break from our daily eating habits and rituals once or twice a year can be beneficial if approached in a safe way.

I again use the word safe for several reasons. Cleansing isn’t for everyone. If your body is constitutionally deficient, or you have just come through a long-term illness, cleansing under the assumption that you are making  your body stronger  can actually leave you depleted.  Also, many current day popular cleanses are cooling to the digestive system. This cooling mechanism makes the stomach less efficient and therefore, individuals with digestive disorders or weaker stomachs may actually be further impairing  their bodies  by choosing these types of cleanses. If you have any concerns it’s always best to consult your physician before beginning any type of regimen.

The next thing that you need to decide is what you are hoping to accomplish from your cleanse. Are you looking to lose a few pounds? Wanting to feel better? More energetic? Or is your goal to make an improvement in your metabolism or some greater physiologic change? All of these things can alter the type of cleanse that is best suited for you.

I stand by the opinion that a majority of the population is dehydrated. Additionally, most are nutrient deficient. That being said, a three or four-day juice cleanse is going to make you feel better because one, you will eliminate many of the toxic food sources going into your system for those days, and will supplement with nutrient dense juices that will hydrate the body. Notice that I am saying nutrient dense. Juice cleanses are usually calorically low so individuals with multiple ailments ranging from anemia to menstrual inconsistencies may not be great candidates for this type of cleansing. Will you feel better and most likely lose a few pounds? Sure. Will you create lasting change in the body? No, not in four days.

There are many medical grade cleanses on the market that serve this purpose. A medical grade cleanse is meant to provide clean, nutrient dense calories to the body while working on liver detoxification and metabolic acceleration. Most times this is done with a food elimination diet where carbohydrates and sugars are eliminated and medical grade shakes are slowly substituted for meals. Additionally, supplements that focus on the systemic rebuild are taken two or three times a day. In most cases, these cleanses last anywhere from 10-30 days, and can leave you with marked improvement in energy, digestion, skin condition and weight stabilization. In my clinical experience, I have seen the Metagenics Cleanse (the cleanse I recommend to my patients) also decrease the frequency of headaches, stabilize moods and increase focus and concentration.

Regardless of which you choose, my hope is that with your decision to cleanse will be the decision to curb some of the habits that brought you to the cleanse in the first place. Choose smarter foods. Prepare your meals. Cut down on sugars and refined carbohydrates. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Happy spring everyone!