Considering a Cleanse?

5 Guidelines to Detox – or Not

You’ve heard of detoxes: you may know someone who has done a one and now you’re considering it yourself. Some people pursue detoxes – or cleanses – for an energy boost, others to jump-start weight loss or to help with skin problems, aches and pains or digestive concerns.

Detoxes focus on the aggressive elimination of toxins through highly restrictive diets. However, lightening your “toxin load” can prove just as beneficial, if not more so. Reducing or eliminating alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, saturated fats and refined sugar is a great place to start.

If you’re thinking about doing a cleanse, consider these five guidelines.

1. Consult your doctor.

Detoxes are founded on restrictive diets, which can make them dangerous for people with dietary limitations, nutritional deficiencies or eating disorders. Cleanses can severely limit protein and can lead to dehydration. Regardless of your nutritional background, talking to a physician can ensure that a cleanse is a safe and appropriate option for your health.

2. Pick the right program.

There are many detox programs and cleanse recipes in the public domain, and your physician or nutritionist can help you determine which, if any, is right for you. You’ll want to take into account your goals and your level of commitment, while acknowledging the risks of each.

3. Understand the process.

Your body does a very good job of eliminating toxins on its own. When properly cared for, your natural defenses will do a more than sufficient job of keeping your body healthy.

People often report feeling more energetic and generally better during or after a cleanse. Most nutritionists attribute this to eliminating high-calorie, low-nutrition or highly processed foods — a healthy habit whether you’re detoxing or not. As a result, the feel-good benefits of a cleanse are often considered side effects or even a placebo effect related to the mentality of doing something healthy.

4. Form lasting habits.

Detoxes may offer short-term weight loss or improved well-being, but cleanses are only meant for a short period and can sometimes do more harm than good. In the most extreme cases, people with addictive tendencies may experience a high from detoxing, which could ultimately lead to unhealthy behaviors like eating disorders. As a result, most doctors recommend people interested in a cleanse pursue a nutritious diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins and whole grains. Eliminating processed foods, drinking lots of water but still maintaining a balanced diet can improve your health more significantly and for longer than a cleanse.

5. Expand your strategy.

A cleanse or detox may help you feel better in the short-term, but for sustainable wellness, physicians recommend not only a balanced diet, but a healthy lifestyle. Your liver, kidneys and colon can handle cleaning out toxins; focus your energies instead on proper nutrition, emotional wellness and regular exercise.