Q: I have been wondering about cleanses lately- they seem to be very popular but are there actually any health benefits? Aren’t you just better off not eating crap like processed foods?
A: Just to clear the air before I get into my feelings on cleanses, I want to state once again that I am not a nutritionist nor have I ever done a cleanse. To that extent, the rest of this post is going to be purely opinion juiced up with some research that I am doing as I type this post.
First off, there are many types of cleanses, many of which include “fasting” of some sort and make all sorts of extravagant claims. I’ve seen shakes, fruit only cleanses, lemon juice cleanses, herbal cleanses, and other magical potions that are supposedly aimed at banishing the evil colon trolls that inhabit your intestines.
The first thing I ask my clients or others who ask me if they should do a cleanse is whether or not they actually know what a cleanse is. What is a cleanse supposed to do? What are you cleansing?
I usually just get some silly response like it is going to help detoxify me followed by a blank start. Cue crickets. Or one of my other favorites is it removes all the gunk that builds up in my intestines over the years. For one, how do you know there is anything built up in your intestines? Simply eating plants should help take care of that but who am I to judge?
Another one of my favorites are the cleanses that promote fasting as part of their regimen. Right off the bat you’ll notice that some of these cleanses include calories. Ding, ding, ding. McFly. Fasting is supposed to imply that you are not eating and therefor not taking in calories.
WTF people?! Are we really in an age where we believe everything we read without googling the subject or finding the answer in a research journal? I mean this is something that is going to seriously impact your health so get off Facebook for 5 minutes and do a little bit of research.
The all-fruit cleanse is another one that I am skeptical about as it has you only eating fruits and fruit juices for 7 days. In a culture that already has a sweet tooth lets feed you nothing but sugar. What I believe that is promoting is your body to crave sugar.
One of the biggest problems that I see with most of the cleanses is that they are almost completely devoid of any type of protein which is an important part of our daily dietary needs. If you persist with depriving yourself of protein your body will not be able to create enough amino acids to maintain your muscle tissue. This means you may be looking quite starved and wasted by the time you have finished your cleanse. Unless emaciated is the look you are going for I suggest sticking to good old fashioned whole food.
So instead of looking for a quick fix for all the processed foods you put in your body how about you just stop putting processed foods in your body? I for one would rather stick to food than not eat and drink a shake that tastes like baby vomit and fermented peas.