The belief is that cleansing will remove toxins from the GI tract, improve energy, and increase your immune system. Many books and celebrities talk about the benefits of cleansing, yet the medical community has very little research on it.
As of 2014, and to the best of our knowledge, no randomized controlled trials have ever been conducted to assess effectiveness of detox diets in humans. Lack of scientific research regarding efficacy is a red flag for any cleanse making health claims. Without published studies there is no way of knowing if and what types of benefits cleanses provide.
The safety of a detox diet depends on how long you stay on it. Most people don’t feel good on very low-calorie, nutrient deprived diets. Side effects are often low energy, low blood sugar, fatigue, muscle aches, lightheadedness, and nausea.
During a cleanse the body breaks down its glycogen stores resulting in loss of water weight. As soon as you start eating regularly the water weight comes back.
Cleansing for as short as a few days leads to muscle breakdown and nutrient deficiencies. Loss of muscle decreases metabolism, making weight loss harder once the person starts eating regularly again.
Concerns of laxative use are dehydration and flushing out electrolytes which can be dangerous for your heart and kidneys. This can lead to very serious complications.
Cleanses are meant for people who are healthy. Anyone on medication, diabetics, people with low blood sugar, people with a history of an eating disorder, older adults, pregnant women, teens, and growing children should avoid these diets.
If you are considering a cleanse to promote weight management or to “detox” your body we recommend fully researching the diet and speaking with your doctor first. Your body does a miraculous job at removing toxins naturally. Changing your lifestyle to avoid processed foods is the best way to minimize your exposure. We recommend a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein.