Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Skinny On Cleanses!

I was in Juiceland yesterday and once again I noticed they are pushing the "cleanse" as a way to stay healthy and "reset" your body.

But isn't it REALLY resetting anything?  And are you REALLY detoxing your body?

One of the biggest struggles with getting healthy is sometimes just getting started.  So it makes sense that many people would look for shortcuts right from the start to adopt a healthy new lifestyle.  Besides the fact that THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS, following a pseudo-science based method of “kickstarting” or “resetting” your body is not only dubious in nature but often sets you back instead of springing you forward. 

Enter the “cleanse” or “juice cleanse” in it’s most common form.

Take a look at some of the rationales people create for starting a cleanse and the reality that exists despite all the marketing claims we want to believe are real:

1. Cleanses Will Reset My Body:

Your body doesn’t have a reset button.  In fact your body is one thing only…a survival machine.  It creates patterns of operation and movement to ensure that your Priority 1: Staying Alive continues to happen.  If you starve yourself and drink only lemonade your body adapts by changing your metabolism, your hunger response and your energy level.  Initially you’ll experience a period of shock where you feel terrible followed by an improvement when your body gets used to being starved.  It’s why you feel “detoxed” after a 3-4 days but only after feeling tired and hungry in the first 1-2 days.  This isn’t a “reset”, it’s an adaptation process.

2. Cleanses Flush Out Toxins:

What toxins?  Where do toxins exist in the body?  Everywhere!  Not just your stomach!  You actually have specific body parts whose only job is to process toxins.  They are your liver, your kidneys and your colon (when it gets enough fiber).  The liver can detoxify most chemicals we ingest and secretes that waste into your intestines to be released.  The kidneys filter blood (how toxins move in the body) at a rate of 120 quarts a day and converts that waste to urine.  You actually release toxins every time you sit on a toilet.  The ONE thing you could do to ensure that those toxins leave efficiently is getting the proper amount of water and fiber in your diet.  Now there are toxins that can’t be processed by these organs but I can guarantee you no amount of lemon water or fruit juice is going to do any better than something designed specifically for the task.

3. Cleanses make your digestion more efficient:

If you eat less you poop less.  It’s that simple.  Don’t read into it any more. 

4. Cleanses improve my energy level and makes me feel better:

You didn’t eat…then you did.  Of course you feel better!

5. Cleanses reduce inflammation:

Inflammation is a very real thing that can occur with certain types of food, especially if you have a genetic disposition for allergies or sensitivity.  In the case of gluten sensitivity, sometimes people just don’t know until they stumble upon the evidence.  I don’t intend to knock gluten-free diets because for some people it is a very real concern and they work.  DON’T however mistake this type of inflammation with the physical manifestation of starving yourself on a “cleanse”.  You may very well have a flatter stomach because there is no longer food in your digestive tract.  Is it realistic to assume that you’ll still have that flat stomach after you start eating again?  Of course not….nothing “anti-inflammatory” exists from a juice cleanse other than withholding the very thing that caused the inflammation in the first place.

Cleanses in-fact don’t reset anything.  They don’t even provide a benefit other than a momentary reduction in waistline which is actually just an effect of starvation.  It’s simple, if there is nothing in your stomach to digest it takes up less space.  Here’s a picture of me when I get up in the morning (before I have anything to digest) and later in the day.  Notice how different my stomach looks?  Think about what 3 or 4 days would make it look like!  But are you going to stop eating food forever?  Of course not!

Stick to a natural, whole foods, plant-based diet and you can avoid the yo-yo effect of inflammation and lack of energy that leads people to be tempted by “cleanses” in the first place.  And give biology a little more credit…trust in your liver, kidneys and colon to cleanse your body with just a little help from a proper diet.

Stay Fit,

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