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Cleanse your mind, not your body

Posted by Sarah M.

"Cleanse Your Mind, Not Your Body"

Week 1: All fruit, no protein
Week 2: All protein, no fruit
Week 3: Protein powder and sugar free juice
Week 4: Realize you want to eat like a normal human again

Many people who desire to lose weight have been told to follow a highly restrictive diet which involves riding the body of toxins. There are many names for the diet: “the detox diet”, “flushing” and “cleansing” to name a few, but the reality is, detoxification diets are unnecessary, unhealthy and illogical. Cleansing-type diets have been popular in media recently, one of the main reasons being that it is easier for a person to get air time or a print ad if they are promoting a book or a line of supplements than if they are promoting the intangible fact that people should eat a variety of healthy and natural foods.

Diets that flush the system claim to be necessary because of the various toxins that the average person accumulates through air pollution, water pollution and unhealthy foods. It is true that there are a small amount of toxins and water and air, but what is neglected by promoters of these diets is the fact that the human body is incredibly efficient at ridding itself of toxins, each and every day. Several natural processes rid the human body of toxins on a continual basis. When a person sweats, toxins from the body are emitted out through pores. The kidneys also function to filter out toxins from the blood and allow them to be excreted through urine. Another way the human body rids itself of toxins is through the natural process of bowel movements. Toxins are continually excreted through feces, as well as urine. As long as there are no kidney or digestive diseases in the human body, the body will take care of any toxins present on its own. If a person does have a diagnosed kidney or digestive disease, professional medical assistance is needed; not a cleansing diet or line of supplements.

Another problem with detoxification diets is that they are not backed by scientific research. While many Americans do eat a highly processed and unhealthy diet, the pathway to health and vitality involves reforming eating habits and moderation; not cutting out entire food groups and forcing diarrhea upon oneself in attempt to rid the body of toxins. Fruits and vegetables should be enjoyed often. Nutrition facts panels and ingredients labels need to be read to ensure the health quality of foods. Even a modified fast such as a “fruit flush” is not necessary.

Though celebrities claim to have lost weight by consuming only a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, each diet needs to be evaluated on its own terms. People need to question whether starving the body, restricting entire food groups and intentionally causing diarrhea truly sounds like a good idea. The reality is that health cannot be purchased in a can and cannot be attained in a 3-day cleansing phase. It is a continual process, one that requires effort, moderation and above all, logic.

Written by Sarah Messali

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ARTICLE TERMS OF USE: All articles on this Web site are the intellectual property of Sarah Messali and Omega Health Consults. You may not reproduce any articles on this website and may not quote them without the written consent of Sarah Messali.

Comments (8)
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Great article! Thank you for bringing this issue up because as you said, there are a lot of celebrities using these types of diets to lose weight quickly. Sure they work, but they're not healthy! Beyonce Knolls told the media she used one of these diets to lose weight for a roll, but she did not recommend it. Isn't it ironic that someone is willing to do something to themselves, but don't want others to follow? I also don't like the term 'diet', we should really think about a lifestyle change, not quick fixes. Also, do what's right for your body not because a celebrity is doing it (that's probably enough reason to not do it).
I must admit, the idea of cleansing your body of the toxins from processed food has sounded appealing in the past. I'm glad to know it's not helpful or necessary to put yourself through all that pain! Couldn't agree more with your point about what sells v. what's helpful. No one wants to hear, just do the hard work of exercising and eating a balanced diet v. take this little blue pill and it will solve all your problems... Went to an interesting lecture last year at Stanford where the Dalai Lama and Stanford neuroscientists were discussing the pros and cons of a pill that could eliminate your craving for desserts (among other things). The Dalai Lama made the point that your body' cravings come from something deeper and that alleviating one would just manifest itself in another way. Bottom line is that shortcuts may work, but only for a short time...
This is an incredibly well-balanced view of what cleansing diets are all about. The only justification I can think of for such a diet is the reason people have for fasting -- it may be bad for you, but there is some mental or spiritual benefit that you may be trying to attain... Oh, and to add to what you say, there is one more incredibly powerful detoxification mechanism in your body. Your liver intercepts everything you absorb after eating, and applies a highly developed set of enzymes to detoxify dangerous chemicals... The results can then be put in the bloodstream and excreted by the kidneys, or directly excreted in bile, which drains into your bowels and leaves you that way.
I have many a friend that has done a cleanse of one type or another. I tried the Master Cleanse, which is the one you listed that consists of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. By the second day I couldn't stand the taste of it so I stopped, though I know others who've done it for the suggested 3 days, and others for up to a week. I agree with you that all these diets tips/ideas can pollute the mind's thinking. Where it's good to sometimes take a break or modify your intake of something, a steady, long-term solution/diet is best (physically and mentally). I have found what works for me: I created my own diet with the influences of Dr. Perricone, Dr. Andrew Weil, the South Beach Diet, and other resources. Like so many, I need meals that can be made quickly and simply. For example, I make fresh salads with shredded chicken and sprinkled with tumeric, olive oil, lemon, and vinegar (I never get tired of the taste!). I regularly eat salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, and nuts, as well as fruit and yogurt with acidophilus, and, of course, raw or quickly cooked veggies. Eating smaller meals and snacks through the day greatly curbs cravings, and believe me, I am a craver (of ice cream and chips!). Oh, and for bread/carb lovers (me, again), once you start in on high quality, high fiber artisan breads or cereals, they become more of a craving. In any case, this works for me and my body/mind. I find it takes a little well-rounded research and, like you say, some pragmatic thinking.
Thanks for the great post. I have a friend who goes on one of those detox things every once in awhile. She's awful to live when she's on it and she always gains back any weight she loses quickly. She tries to get me to go on it with her sometimes. Now I have some good reasons not to.
Every now and again, a little detox can be good for a few days, but overall the key is to eat a variety of absolutely healthy foods everyday!
My obese neice just went on one of these insane detox diets where she only drank shakes for 5 months. This was a disaster for so many reasons! 1. She spent a fortune on these shakes.... what a money making scam! 2. These expensive shakes gave her severe acid reflux... and contained loads of unhealthy ingredients! 3. she did lose 60 pounds (who wouldn't only eating shakes for 5 months), but they told her that when she was done she should just eat "sensibly". Now for someone who is obese and an over eating disorder... the word sensibly has a lot of grey areas. So now she is quickly back to eating rubbish and putting the pounds back on. 4. This extreme way of losing weight does nothing for all of the emotional baggage underneath that leads to someone becoming totally addicted to food. 5. I could go on and on about all the reasons that this diet has really annoyed me for my neice...but you get the point!
Thanks for this article. This is really good information. I have tried these diets as well. I usually do feel better after a few days of juice, fruits, and veggies. However, I don't lose weight. I think it's a good way to break bad habits we can slip into like too much sugar and maybe a few too many french fries? It's nice to know our bodies do the hard work for us with regular maintenance!
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