When I was in my 20’s I was deep in to the world of clean eating and needing to be as healthy as possible. I wanted to do everything right, be Super Health Girl. I soaked up the knowledge with such gusto and tried on new dietary theories to see which one would fit me best. At the time I did well as a vegetarian and felt pretty darn good. Unfortunately there are many in that world that believe that no matter what you do, you will never be really healthy unless you detoxify your body at least twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. When I lived in San Diego, colonics were the thing. Everybody was getting colonics. Some people even shot coffee up their bum to get the job done. I never jumped on the colonic train. I think my caboose thanks me. I did spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, powders, a juicer and loads of produce to cleanse myself of all the evils that were supposedly built up in my colon, liver and gallbladder. I can’t say that my organs got much cleaner since I was already eating incredibly well compared to my peers, but my wallet sure got cleaned out.
Now that I am a health coach I am again surrounded by those that feel it imperative to cleanse the body regularly in order to obtain perfect health. I am not one of those coaches. I get asked quite often if I recommend any particular cleanses to my clients, friends or family. My answer is always no. I do recommend elimination diets to pinpoint any possible food allergies, but never a cleanse.
Our bodies on their own are really quite impressive in their ability to detoxify daily. Yes, daily. Every time we sweat, breathe, urinate, defecate, cry or (if you are a woman) menstruate, we are cleansing. Therefore if we are eating well, drinking water and exercising, there is no need to cleanse. I’m fully aware that many will argue with me that this is not enough and that there are horrible toxins infesting our bodies. They will say that without detox cleanses we will get sicker and sicker. That’s fine, that’s their opinion.
Here’s my opinion. If you eat terribly all year long and then suddenly decide to do a 3 day juice cleanse, you are going to be in a world of hurt and most likely do more damage to your body than you had done in the first place. Headaches, hunger, acne and stinky breath are what you have to look forward to most of the time. Yes you might lose a few pounds of water weight (which you will gain back as soon as you start eating again) but unless you are able to continue putting fresh fruits and vegetables in to your body everyday after, you’ve accomplished very little. You gave your digestive tract and jaw a rest for three days, but you also sent your body in to starvation mode which ends up burning muscle instead of fat. Less muscle leads to less calories being burnt and metabolism being lowered. I’m guessing that’s not what you were hoping for when you signed up for that one.
If you already eat clean and exercise regularly, there’s no reason to cleanse. See above paragraph about how awesome our bodies are.
So what do I tell people that ask me about cleanses? I tell them that if you want a clean body start making positive lifestyle changes little by little, every day. Eat a lot more vegetables, more fresh or frozen fruit, real whole grains, enough protein for their body’s needs and drink lots of water. Oh yeah, sweat at least three times a week. If they insist on a liver cleanse, I tell them to drink dandelion tea or have some dandelion greens in their salad. End of story.
To sum up, I haven’t done a cleanse in roughly 10 years and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I rarely get sick and my most recent blood work was perfect. I help people get healthy through gradual lifestyle changes and it seems to be working pretty darn well. I’m not writing this to attack other coaches (trying not to anyway), just stating my experience and opinion.