Between eye-catching Instagram posts and catchy marketing slogans, it's easy to see why so many people want to buy into the juice cleanse craze. It sounds like an easy fix after too many nights spent ordering greasy takeout and going to one too many happy hours. While we'd all love to believe there's a magical smoothie out there that can remove all impurities from our system, good health doesn’t actually come in a total colon cleanse or body detox. Despite what health magazines, "experts" and Dr. Oz tell you, there is no magical food or drink, no matter how much money you spend on it, that will magically cleanse or detoxify your body.
Reality check: Your best cleanser is inside your body right now. And to keep it functioning properly (and more efficiently than any marketable product), you only have to take care of it with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Anything else is just a fad diet offering zero long-term benefits.
The ‘toxin’ myth.
For you to detox your body, you’d have to have a body riddled with toxins in need of expulsion in the first place. But if you had a buildup of poisons in your body such as heavy metals, pesticides or other harmful organisms, you’d need more than kale—you’d need a hospital.
Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include breathing difficulty, chronic pain, convulsions, cramping, headaches, impaired motor skills and brain function, paralysis, profuse sweating, and even mania. Notice, none of these symptoms include occasion skin break-outs or an extra 10 pounds.
The best detox equipment around is inside you right now.
Every middle-school science class goes over how different organs filter toxins out of the body, automatically, 24 hours a day, with or without the help of a smoothie.
Your skin removes waste through sweat, lungs through exhalation, the lymphatic system through circulation, kidneys and liver through filtration, and large colon through solid waste. In other words, you’ve got the best detox system on the earth and all you have to do is take care of it. Part of that care definitely includes putting healthy things in, and keeping unhealthy things out. Normal, day-to-day toxins we all ingest are generally taken care of by our internal organs. Overload your system with toxins like those from cigarette smoke, and it doesn’t matter how many juices you consume a day—you’re still wreaking havoc on your body.
Cleanses offer empty promises for very real money.
Juice cleanses, magic pills, and crash diets promise to make you more energetic with sparkling skin, fewer pounds, a kinder disposition and smoothly running bodily system. A basic “Simple Slender Master Cleanse” diet lasts four days and runs you $37.29… and is recommended in addition to “light meals consisting only of fruits and vegetables.” In other words, groceries. But in this master cleanse, you’re doubling your weekly nutrition spend for a little lemon juice concentrate and cayenne pepper extract.
More expensive cleanses like the “Soup Cleanse” from Juice Press retail for $67… a day. That’s for four juices with names like “Love Me” and “Gravity,” and three soups, which are actually “blended smoothies, but cooked” according to the site. Wouldn’t it be simpler, and unbelievably less expensive, to just buy a blender and some produce?
Cleanses are ultimately just low-grade laxatives.
The overwhelming majority of cleanses are comprised of herbs and stimulants that do offer you one thing: frequent trips to the bathroom. These ingredients are essentially mild laxatives. Take a look at detox teas, for example. Most include the ingredient senna leaf, which is an FDA-approved, non-prescription laxative.
By including ingredients with mild laxative properties, cleanse companies can promise “a flatter belly in five days.” But that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be any healthier. Not to mention, you could have gotten these ingredients separately from any supplement store or—if you’re really wild—from the food you eat.
The alternative to cleanses.
Every cleanse on the market advises its use in tandem with a healthy eating plan and exercise regiment. But if we take the cleanse out of the equation, isn’t it fair to assume eating healthy and exercise should be all the help your detoxifying organs need?
Let’s stop the insanity. Back away from the trend of cleanses and detoxes. If you want to be healthy, here’s some free advice. Pursue nutritious, local ingredients picked as recently as possible. Move more. Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugars and fats. It really is as simple as that.