Health Plus

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Cleanse diets, also called detox diets, are marketed as a short-term way to help rid your body of harmful toxins, and lose weight, without requiring lifestyle changes. It sounds appealing, but are these diets really all they promise?

What is a cleanse diet?

A cleanse or detox diet is usually a period of fasting followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables and fruits, juices, and water. Details vary, but often involve eliminating entire food or nutrient groups. Some examples are no carbohydrate, no sugar, or no fat detoxes. Food for cleanse diets can be homemade mixtures or expensive pre-packaged juice blends or supplements.

Are cleanse diets safe?

Cleanses are low in protein and calories, which make it hard to function or engage in physical activity. Most cleanses meet only half of an individual's caloric needs and only one-third of daily protein needs. While people do experience weight loss on cleanse diets, it is mainly water weight and lean muscle tissue rather than body fat.

Without nutrients your body gets from eating a variety of foods from all five food groups, you could experience headaches, fatigue, moodiness, difficulty thinking, and stomach pain. There is no scientific evidence that cleanses improve health. The claim that cleanses give the digestive system a rest is inapplicable – the digestive system does not need to rest.

How does the body naturally rid itself of toxins?

The body rids itself of toxins through the liver. After food is broken down from the digestive system, small particles filter through the liver, then nutrients the body needs are separated out from waste particles. The liver works like a factory; it receives, filters, and repackages particles from foods to either be used in the body or removed.

How can I support my body's natural cleanse routine?

Instead of participating in a restrictive cleanse diet, give your body what it needs. Focus on the following tips:

  • Drink more water. The best way to tell if you are hydrated is the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow.
  • Eat whole foods instead of packaged foods.
  • Choose a variety of foods from all five food groups with emphasis on high fiber foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Slow down at meal time. Practice mindful eating.
  • Eat on a regular schedule. Spread meals and snacks throughout the day to regulate your digestive system, blood sugar levels, and appetite.

Challenge:

Choose one day this week to bring a water bottle with you wherever you go. Track your daily water intake and note your hydration status based on the color of your urine. Pale yellow or clear means you're well hydrated, any darker means more fluids are needed.

For extra flavor, try making one of the fruit-infused waters below!

Fruit-infused Water Combinations:

  • Strawberry + lemon + basil
  • Orange + blueberry
  • Watermelon + mint
  • Strawberry + lime + cucumber
  • Lemon + cucumber

Directions

Combine ingredients in a pitcher or water bottle. For more flavor, squeeze or muddle the fruits or herbs. The longer the ingredients sit in the water, the stronger the flavor.