“Cleanses”…Unfortunately, only good for the Instagram picture

It’s a new year and you made a New Year’s Resolution to take your health more seriously. If you look to Instagram for some inspiration, you may begin to think that doing a cleanse would be a great start to the new year.

“Cleanses” have been suggested as an effective way to promote health and detoxify the body. Colon cleanses, juice fasts, or using specific supplements or herbs are examples of popular cleansing protocols.

Cleanses can cause fast weight loss because they generally involve consuming a low number of calories. Thus far, there is no solid evidence to support the claims that “cleanses” are beneficial for health or that they remove toxins from the body. These interventions are hard to study because these products do not identify which toxins they are targeting, nor do they specify how the product eliminates the toxin.

A number of issues with safety have also been observed:

  • Cleansing products may contain laxatives which can lead to severe diarrhea
  • Drinking only water and tea for multiple days could lead to electrolyte imbalances
  • Some cleansing juices are not pasteurized and may lead to bacterial illnesses in children or people with weakened immune systems
  • Juices may contain high amounts oxalate which can increase the risk of kidney stones and cause kidney damage in people at risk. High oxalate levels are found in beets and dark leafy vegetables
  • A number of companies selling cleansing products have been found to have illegal ingredients in their products

Overall, doing cleanses are better at draining your wallet than they are at improving your health. Instead, focus on a long-term health goal such as limiting the number of processed foods in your diet.

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