Somewhere atop the list of most obnoxious health fads over past decade are cleanses. (If there isn’t one out there that claims it can turn you into a mermaid at this point, we’d be surprised.) Most cleanses promote weight loss or make claims about “purifying” your insides. But these wonder potions and juiced veggies are not so wonderful, and they can have seriously negative results if you do them for long periods of time.
Not sure what’s true and what’s not? We can help with that! Here are seven lies you’ve been told about cleanses, and the truths you need to hear.
1. Lie: You’ll feel fantastic
Whoever said you will feel like a million bucks while on a cleanse is a liar. There is literally nothing fun about detoxing, especially if you try to do it for a lengthy period. For starters, filling up on liquids is going to leave you hungry, which never puts anyone in a good mood. Then comes the exhaustion that accompanies not putting enough nutrients into your body. If you really want to cleanse your body after a night of drinking or a couple days of eating garbage, you should modify your entire diet — more on that in just a second — and rev up your exercise regimen.
2. Lie: It’s a totally natural way to purify your organs and glands
This is where the false claims about cleanses start defying science. A lot of fancy detox plans claim to purify your body in a natural way. But in reality, the only natural cleansing out there is what the body does on its own. The body has its own methods of getting rid of toxins, and as Dr. Michael Smith told WebMD, “[Y]ou’re not going to get rid of them with the latest detox wonder.” Long story short, anything that claims to cleanse your organs is simply a means of sucking money out of your wallet.
3. Lie: Research says cleanses totally work
This is where things get tricky, because when something has the phrase “research supports” or “doctors approve” attached to it, we tend to believe it to be true without feeling the need to do any additional digging. But when it comes to fad cleanses, claims that they are proven to help you detox, lose weight, etc., just aren’t true.
The Huffington Post points out there is, in fact, no scientific research to suggest that cleanses work on a regular basis. While a day or two of juices might raise your vitamin intake, you will be depriving yourself of protein, fiber, and other nutrients your body needs. And many dietitians are against going on cleanses since they can be dangerous.
4. Lie: There’s no danger in doing a cleanse
Quite the contrary — going on a cleanse for a long period of time can have negative effects on your body. Many, if not all, detox methods deprive your body of essential nutrients to keep your body functioning. All those veggies in the juicer? Grinding all of those down to liquid form eviscerates them of their nutritional value. As Mayo Clinic points out, whole fruits and vegetables lose their healthy fiber during juicing, along with some of their vitamin content. And, as Livestrong.com informs us, too much juicing can lead to severe stomach problems, hyperkalemia, and having too much iron in your body.
5. Lie: It’s way less expensive than buying regular groceries
Here’s the big kicker when it comes to those fancy juice cleanses: They will empty your wallet. The idea that it will save you money because you are only eating fruits and veggies — or whatever “it” ingredient is in everyone’s smoothies these days — is bogus. As Business Insider points out, a short-term detox like Dr. Oz’s three-day juice cleanse will cost you upwards of $120. And that’s for buying just fruits and vegetables!
Buying high-quality produce is all well and good. But if your plan is to gut your fruits and vegetables to the point that they quickly start losing nutrients, what’s the point in buying good ingredients in the first place? It just doesn’t make sense.
6. Lie: Cleanses are great for losing weight long term
One of the biggest reasons — if not the biggest reason — people are intrigued by cleanses is because these products claim to make you lose a ton of weight fast. So this is partially true, because you might drop a couple pounds very quickly in the beginning. But this is because you are losing water weight and not putting proper nutrients into your body. Eat This, Not That! explains that this action of depriving yourself will actually slow down your metabolism. So in the end, you’ll just end up gaining all of that weight back. As WebMD aptly points out, you are much better off cleaning up your diet.
7. Lie: Cleanses are superior to eating a balanced diet
As you have probably guessed by now, you are better off reshaping your diet than being sucked into doing whatever cleanse your favorite celebrity is currently promoting. Dietitian Joy Dubost tells Live Science that your best bet if you really want to “detox” of things like processed carbs and alcohol is to incorporate fiber-rich foods and more fruits and vegetables into your diet. (Like, actual whole fruits and veggies.) Dubost also recommends speaking with a nutritionist if you are serious about cleaning up your eating regimen.