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One of the trendiest wellness practices, especially at the beginning of the year, is to do a full body cleanse and detox diet. First of all, what is a detox anyway and why would you need one? A detox or cleanse usually involves eliminating certain foods for a period of time, or, if you flip that around, focusing on only a few key foods for a while. So you’ve got a time and food restriction component you’re working with. Many people advise against detoxes and cleanses because your liver’s job is to remove substances we ingest, including harmful toxins and excess hormones. You’ve also got your largest organ, your skin, which removes waste products through sweat. Your kidneys filter out waste and your lungs are responsible for getting carbon dioxide out. Then we have your lymphatic system, which is a circulatory system that helps remove waste and toxins as well as the colon, which gets rids of digestive waste. If you’ve got all of that, why on earth would you need to detox? To find out, it’s helpful to dive a little deeper into the types of detoxes and cleanses out there to discover what they actually do to your body (and mind!). You’ll also find my favorite and most recommended detox / cleanse below AND…spoiler alert…it’s actually not the one I’m doing right now.

What about cleansing supplements? If your inbox looks anything like mine does right now, you’re being inundated with wellness, cleanse, and detox products. Do they work? Some of them do, I’m sure, but I can tell you that none of them will work magic in isolation. So should you try a mix of supplements or do a detox diet or cleanse to shed pounds, give your body a chance to release toxins, and give your digestive system a break? I think some of the ones below may be worth a try, as long as you keep in mind that your daily habits and lifestyle will ultimately have the biggest influence on your overall wellness. I’ve tried many different detoxes and cleanses throughout the years and typed up the Cliff Notes version for you below so you can find out how these detoxes and cleanses affect hormone health as well. Before you start chugging that green juice, take a look at what I’ve uncovered:

 

The quintessential juice cleanse

Juice cleanses consist of drinking just fruit and/or vegetable juices and maybe nut milks for anywhere from a few hours to several days. The key benefit is that you’re flooding your body with essential nutrients and vitamins and flushing out toxins, while most likely shedding some pounds in the process as well. The drawback of juice cleanses is that you’re not eating whole foods, so you lose out on a lot of fiber, which helps keep things moving in the digestive system. Your digestive tract actually WANTS to be stimulated with fiber. If you’re doing a juice cleanse longer than about a day, you may also find yourself hungry. It’s quite ok for your body to adjust to less food and feel a bit hungry, but starving yourself for days is going to negatively impact your adrenals (two small, triangular shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys). Rock steady blood sugar helps tremendously with hormone balance and doing a juice cleanse for too long may hurt this. I’ve done juice cleanses in the past, and although I’ve enjoyed them, I found the benefits to be short lived. You maybe lose a few pounds, feel clean on the inside and the wonderful deep green color that leafy greens provide makes us think that we’re all set on the wellness front. Definitely better than washing down a few doughnuts with coffee, but I find juice cleanses to be a temporary fix and not a true cleanse since the ingredients you use may not be optimal for your digestive system, gut, or liver. If you’re not using organic fruits and veggies, you also risk flooding your body with pesticides, so organic is always best for hormone and overall health. In short, if you want the mental reset of a juice cleanse and if that leads you to consume and appreciate fruits and veggies more, it’s not a bad reason to give this a try. I would not do a juice cleanse for longer than a day. If you have a juice machine, you could make your own juices at home, or, you could pick them up from a local juice store, such as Clean Juice. If it seems more economical to make your own juice and you have never juiced before, I would recommend starting off with a basic juice machine because they can get large and expensive really fast. My pick is the Breville Juice Fountain Compact.

 

The liquid cleanse

This is similar to a juice cleanse, but focuses on just one liquid such as apple cider vinegar mixed with water, lemon, celery juice, or brewed tea. No. Don’t do this. If you want a quick way to lose weight, there are much safer, healthier, and better alternatives that don’t involve only one type of liquid that won’t give you magic bullet results. It’s just not safe to consume so few calories and inadequate nutrition, so I would stay away from a one-liquid cleanse.

 

Whole 30

One of the most popular January wellness trends, not quite a detox or cleanse (you’re allowed to eat bacon on it, so there’s that…), but definitely life transforming for many people. Whole 30 was my first introduction to eliminating certain food groups and it made a lasting impact on me. If you’re not sure what Whole 30 is, you can read about the rules here. By focusing on real, whole foods instead of processed ones, you’re developing a better relationship with food (especially fruits and veggies) while increasing energy, sleeping better, and feeling well overall. The biggest game changer for me was dropping sugar. It’s such an addictive substance and although I now try to stay away from all refined sugar, I was definitely a sugar addict in the past and my first Whole 30 helped me develop a better relationship with real food. I no longer need sugar in my tea and have not been to a Starbucks for a sugary coffee drink in years. The Whole 30 challenge is 30 days and is the easiest “detox” I have tried since you still have a wide variety of foods to choose from to nourish you. I highly recommend it if you’re a newbie to detoxes, cleanses, and elimination diets and need some help with dropping the alcohol and sugar, among many other processed foods.

 

The anti-inflammatory reset

This may be my favorite way to reset. You’re eating real, whole foods, but are removing all the inflammatory ones. Similar to an elimination diet, you’re giving your digestive system a break, while still eating fiber, getting in vitamins and nutrients and temporarily eliminating foods such as gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs and all animal protein, sugars (may include fruit), grains, soy, nightshades, caffeine, and alcohol. I love this detox because you’re getting in enough nutrients and don’t feel super restricted while effectively removing toxic build-up and helping your body and taste buds reset. It’s quite a chore to plan meals that fall into this category, so my favorite way to make this happen is to do a Sakara Level II Detox. It’s well worth the money to have your meals for your detox week (it’s technically only five days) shipped to you so you’re ready-to-go. Note that I’m a Sakara Ambassador (yes, I love this stuff so much!) and you can use code XOVARSHA for 20% off if you decide to go this route. I’ve done a Level II detox, or something similar to it at least five or six times and have felt energetic and amazing every single time. I love that you get a great reset, give your digestive system and liver a break, and the reset is only five days, which means you’re not restricting yourself to the point where you feel like you’re developing a bad relationship with food or developing any type of food anxiety or disorder. Reducing inflammation in the body and healing the gut is key to optimal immunity, energy, and hormone balance.

 

The 3:6:9 cleanse by Medical Medium

Oh boy. Where do we start on this one? A friend recommended I give this a try and I’m currently on day five of the 3:6:9 advanced cleanse. It consists of nine days or raw fruits and veggies, in whole form or smoothies (you get options, which is nice). No restrictions on how much you eat, so when you’re hungry, you can always eat an apple. The advanced cleanse does have limited meals and I’m basically drinking three large smoothies per day, because it’s just easier and quicker to suck down a smoothie while at my desk or on the phone (instead of chomping away at a giant salad). The philosophy behind the 3:6:9 cleanses is that by sticking to specific, raw fruits and vegetables, in addition to a ton of lemon water and fresh celery juice, you’re giving your liver a chance to detoxify and are cleansing your body of pathogens, bacteria, toxic heavy metals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, viral waste matter, and petrochemicals. What made me pause while reading through the Medical Medium site and books is that the author,  “Anthony was born with the unique ability to converse with the Spirit of Compassion, who provides him with extraordinarily advanced healing medical information that’s far ahead of its time.” As a former systems engineer with an MBA this was a hard “no” for me. I need science. I thrive on science and a spiritual messenger telling me what to eat wasn’t going to work for me. Neither were the high profile celebrities endorsing him. But here’s the thing, Anthony actually has some good logic and explanations in his books and though they contain pseudoscience, there are some good recommendations. Eating raw fruits and vegetables only is not something I recommend long term, since I still believe a balanced approach of proteins healthy fats, and fiber is the way to go for every meal. If you want to build lean muscle mass, you’re still going to need protein, so going completely without it is still a no for me. However, being on this cleanse for the past five days has given me great energy, an upbeat overall mood, and I’ve developed an even deeper appreciation for fruits and vegetables. It’s a great reset for my taste buds and after spending a week on a cruise ship last month, it’s a great approach to allow my liver to really take a breather from the uncontrollable seed oils, refined sugar, and desserts I had been eating. I think the biggest point Anthony makes in his books is that even if we take all the steps we think are necessary for optimal health and are doing all-the-things, who’s to say cancer isn’t lurking in the background for me? I have a family history of breast cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Chronic illness is not something we always see coming and if a 9-day liver cleanse will help me with eliminating more toxins that I normally would, I’m willing to give it a try. I think those with actual chronic illnesses need to be cautious about not foregoing medical treatment in lieu of anything recommended in these books. Definitely a controversial one, especially since this cleanse is often labeled as “elitist” due to the very high grocery bill of organic fruits and veggies it comes with. I will report back on my full experience and results soon!

 

Intermittent fasting

A method that is still trendy and at he same time, something that started ages ago is intermittent fasting. You can read my full take on intermittent fasting here. You’re likely to lose weight by fasting because you’re most likely skipping an entire meal each day, which will definitely result in a calorie deficit. Every time you’re eating less calories than your body needs, you’re setting it up for weight loss. Not a bad deal in theory, but be sure to read my post for the downside in doing this (especially for women). I’ve tried intermittent fasting and found that circadian rhythm fasting works much better for my body longer term. Since you’re not changing up the foods you’re eating while fasting, the focus isn’t necessarily on ingesting more quality ingredients that help heal the gut and balance hormones.  I wouldn’t quite call this a detox or cleanse, but it’s still a very popular weight loss method that works fantastic for many people.

So what all of that said…what do you think of detoxes and cleanses? Which ones are you onboard with and which ones do you have questions about?

 

Do detox diets and cleanses really work?

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