Ever wished there was an easy, quick way to cleanse your body of
all those 2016 toxins?
Turns out you’re already equipped with everything you need.
They’re called your liver and kidneys.
Together, these two toxin-bashing organs act as a super-efficient
system for filtering out the vast majority of the harmful
substances we eat and drink.
In other words, you never need to detox. Not for
New Year’s Day. Not after too much Thanksgiving turkey. Not even
because you spent most of last year subsisting on greasy take-out
from the C-rated “restaurant” next door.
Here’s how it works: While our kidneys
filter our blood and remove any waste from our diet, our liver
processes medications and detoxifies any chemicals we ingest.
Paired together, these organs make our bodies natural
“Unless there’s a blockage in one of these organs that [cleanse
our bodies] day and night, there’s absolutely no need to
help the body get rid of toxins,” family physician Ranit Mishori
of the Georgetown University School of Medicine told
NPR. Mishori has spent years
reviewing the medical literature on cleanses.
If detoxing is bogus, where did the idea come from?
The original detox diet, called “The Master Cleanse,” was thought
up in the 1940s by Stanley Burroughs as a “natural” way to treat
stomach ulcers. The method was never substantiated by any
He published a book describing it called “The
Master Cleanser.” The cleanse consists of a daily regimen of
six to 12 glasses of water mixed with lemon juice, cayenne
pepper, and maple syrup, plus a laxative at bedtime.
Cleanse proponents like Peter Glickman, who helped resurrect the
cleanse in 2004 with a book called “Lose
Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days: Take Charge
of Your Health with the Master Cleanse,” say dieters begin to
feel “euphoric” and “serene” after about a week of not eating.
We could think of better words to describe the sensations of
Ok, so the lemon detox is out. What about a juice cleanse?
Other less-extreme alternatives to Burroughs’ and Glickman’s
self-deprivation plans exist, from swapping a few meals a day for
a $12 pre-packaged bottle of green liquid to juicing up a few
bags of fresh produce at home each day.
Unlike the Master Cleanse, a juice diet won’t totally
starve your body, but it will drain your wallet, and the benefits
are dubious at best.
For starters, you have to practically buy out your grocery
store’s produce department for just a few days of juicing. Take
the list of ingredients for this recently posted
three-day juice cleanse from the Dr. Oz show: four carrots,
four apples (type not specified), two golden delicious apples,
two 1-inch pieces of ginger, three cucumbers, six celery stalks,
14 kale leaves, half a lemon, one lime, four plum tomatoes, two
red bell peppers, one-fourth of a small red onion, two cups
parsley, one large sweet potato, two large red beets, one orange,
eight Swiss chard leaves, and six clementines. Disclaimer: this
list is only for one day on the three-day cleanse. ($40 at our
local grocery store, multiplied by three days = $120.)
Or you can buy the premade version: Suja offers a bottle
of its cold-pressed “Green Supreme” kale, apple, and lemon
juice for $9 a pop. (Three days of three bottles of Suja each
day = $81.)
Juicing removes some of the healthiest parts of fresh produce
When you juice fresh fruits and veggies, you remove all of their
fiber, the key ingredient that keeps you feeling full and
satisfied until your next meal. What you keep is the natural
sugar in the produce (a bottle of Suja’s “Green Supreme,” for
example, has more sugar than a can of Coke).
The immediate effects of a high-sugar and low-protein, low-fiber
diet, are felt almost immediately: You’re constantly hungry
because there’s no fiber to fill you up. Meanwhile, the sugar
you’re consuming is temporarily raising your blood sugar, but
with no protein to stabilize it, you’re on a roller-coaster ride
of high and low energy. The long-term effects are more severe: a
lack of protein, when prolonged for even a few days, can cause
you to lose
muscle rather than fat, because protein is what your muscles
feed on for energy.
But there’s another reason juicing isn’t the best idea for some
people that goes beyond depleting your body of muscle, and it has
to do with behavior.
Cleanses can mimic other dangerous eating habits
Cleanse advocates describe their plans as quick fixes that clean
up the mess of processed carbs, sugar, and booze we throw in our
bodies each day. In reality, though, this type of eating pretty
closely mimics the dangerous binge-and-purge style of eating
recognized globally as indicative of an eating disorder.
For people who are prone to disordered eating, juice cleanses
could serve as a gateway to bigger problems.
At one eating-disorder treatment clinic in New York City, more
than half the patients report having tried a juice cleanse,
Marie Claire reports. “Maybe a patient tried it and became
obsessed, or maybe the eating disorder was already there and the
juicing became part of it,” the clinic’s director of nutrition
services Debbie Westerling told the magazine.
Eating nothing but juice for several days can also cause eating
problems from the past to resurface, writes registered dietitian
Megan Holt in a post about cleansing on
her clinic’s website. “I tend to discourage fasting because
it can reactivate disordered eating behaviors,” Holt writes,
“whether that’s restriction or feeling out of control with food
or feeling disconnected from hunger and fullness cues when one
does start to eat again.”
In other words, you can’t simply drink your way to health —
hundreds of dollars’ worth of freshly liquefied produce or not.
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