To Chew or Not to Chew? Exploring 5 Detoxifying Cleanses

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Spring has not exactly sprung, but coming off an indulgent holiday season and heading into bathing suit season is the perfect recipe for spring cleaning fever — of the body, that is. January is a time during which consumers often feel the need to reset their bodies, and for many, that’s where body cleanses come in. The popularity of body cleanses is rising, and there are more varieties cropping up, appealing to different consumers everywhere. Though cleanses are certainly not for everyone and can be highly controversial, some people find success with the detoxes, and there is even some science behind their effectiveness.

According to LiveStrong.comcleanses help detoxify the various body systems and protect the organs from damage. The major detoxification systems of the body are the skin, liver, intestines, kidneys, and lungs: These systems are the most susceptible to free radicals and other harmful substances. Though the body is capable of eliminating toxins, those that are not removed can build up in tissues, and that’s where cleanses can come in. During periods of fasting and cleansing, the body is able to clean out its system without using digestive organs’ energy. Giving digestive systems a break can help bodies remain more efficient and keep away toxins. Coming off of cleanses, many consumers experience upswings in their energy levels, and their immune system functions are also expected to work better.

Some experts say that the theories behind body cleanses are mumbo jumbo, while others endorse them. Whether you’ve experienced in the cleanse department, want to give them a try, or are simply interested in the different varieties, here are the five most popular body cleanses at the moment. Cleanses usually vary from three to 10 days in length, but all experts encourage participants to do only what is right for them and to consciously listen to their bodies. And here’s a warning: Some cleanses are more serious than they appear.

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1. Master cleanse

Speaking of serious cleanses, first up is the king of the cleanses: the master cleanse. This detox was popularized by pop singer Beyonce Knowles after she used the diet to lose 20 pounds before her starring role in Dreamgirls in 2006, but even she admits she wasn’t particularly happy during the cleanse. The master cleanse is arguably one of the most intense detoxes out there and is meant to rid the body of toxin build-up in the tissues, blood, and organs. According to LiveStrong.com, the cleanse helps flush toxin through the systems to remove waste and other harmful elements that are left behind after nutritional elements are saved from food.

So what does the famed master cleanse entail? WebMD reports that the detox is a liquid-only diet consisting of a lemonade-like beverage, salt water drink, and herbal laxative tea. The claim is that if you do it for at least 10 days, you’ll lose weight, “detox” your digestive system, and feel more energetic. The only nourishment that you take is a special lemonade concoction made from the master cleanse ingredients: lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. Cleansers drink six to 12 glasses per day, each glass containing about 110 calories in sugar carbohydrates. An herbal laxative tea is taken at night and a quart of salt water is had first thing in the morning. You come off the diet by transitioning to solid food over a few days.

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2. Juice cleanse

Next up is another kind of liquid cleanse, but one that is arguably easier than the master cleanse and that many have found favor with, especially recently thanks to the increased popularity of juicing. The concept behind juice cleanses is pretty simple in that you replace all meals and snacks with juices made from fruits and vegetables for about three to seven days. Many believe that juice cleanses help free the body from the burden of digesting solid food, thus helping more efficiently release the toxins swimming in bodies’ systems.

In order to follow the detox, cleansers either need to have a juicer, invest in bottled juices, or buy juices fresh from special juice-making vendors or places like Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM). The experience can be an expensive one, as the juices don’t come cheap — the produce that goes into making at-home juices isn’t exactly inexpensive either — but many stand behind the effectiveness of such cleanses and do them regularly.

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3. Raw food cleanse

Everyone can take a deep breath for this next one, because the third cleanse on our list involves chewing — but no cooking! The raw food cleanse is based on the theory that cooking depletes foods of nutrients, so you should eat foods in their raw state. According to LiveStrong.com, the diet typically lasts seven to 10 days and involves eating only fresh, unprocessed foods while cutting out all refined sugars, flours, and most fatty foods.

The cleanse begins with a 24-hour fast followed by a diet of uncooked, fresh, and non-fatty fruit, leaves, stems, or plant roots. At the completion of the cleanse, participants are encouraged to slowly add back in some fats in the form of nuts, avocado, and unpasteurized cheese, and then, if desired, wean themselves back on to cooked food.

The raw food cleanse isn’t as intense as other diets — it is even a lifestyle choice for some — but it is an expensive way to eat, as produce costs add up fast, and many cleansers get by with the use of a juicer.

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4. Whole foods cleanse

The next cleanse on our list is another diet that includes chewing, but that still doesn’t mean this regimen is easy. In fact, it may be even more challenging than you think. Experts have long denounced the high consumption of processed foods, so this cleanse could very well be every health expert’s dream.

The whole foods cleanse isn’t as regimented as other detoxes are, but it still requires participants to eliminate all processed or refined foods, stimulants, and depressants from their diets for as long as they choose. According to Elephant Journal, this diet helps aid in the body’s digestion and makes it easier for the body to eliminate the toxins we naturally come into contact with.

Sound like a pinch? Don’t forget that coffee, refined sugar, alcohol, baked goods, and processed meats are a big no-no on this cleanse, so don’t get too overconfident until you try it.

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5. Soups and smoothies cleanse

Lastly, we come back to a cleanse that again goes easy on the chewing, but which many people still find favor with because it allows its consumers to simply eat whole foods in the form of soups and smoothies. Healthy Crush says that the concept behind the soups and smoothies cleanse is giving the body a break from chewing and digesting solid foods.

But before you get too excited, we should probably mention that these soups and smoothies are supposed to be homemade and thus void of any ingredients that aren’t fruit or vegetables. That’s right: The soups are supposed to be vegetable soups — no dairy, grains, excess salt or protein — and the smoothies should be dairy-free, as well.

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