No matter how careful we try to be, exposure to chemicals is inevitable. From the preservatives and pesticides in the food we eat to the fumes we breathe on the freeway, we are surrounded by unhealthy substances that invade our bodies.
Fortunately, we have multiple lines of defense—namely our liver, kidneys, colon and lungs--each with its own biological mechanism for keeping us healthy. Many alternative medicine practitioners believe cleansing (also known as detoxification) can aid these vital organs in their work.
How It Works
There are two main types of cleanses that have gained popularity in recent years—colon cleanses and diet-related cleanses. Both have options available for purchase or for doing it yourself.
With colon cleanses the idea is to rid the body of any food that may remain rotting in the intestines. This can be done using an enema or a specially designed mixture that is ingested. One example can be made with 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon psyllium seeds and 8 ounces of water.
Diet-related cleanses focus on changing the way one eats for varying lengths of time. Examples of these include The Master Cleanse (or The Lemonade Diet), The Elimination Diet and Juice/Soup Fasting.
Proponents of cleanses believe they offer a number of health benefits. By ridding the body of toxins they feel people will experience optimal functionality and performance with improvements ranging from increased energy, stronger immunity and better processing of nutrients to better colon functioning.
Cleanses of any sort should not be undertaken lightly. They can interfere with medications and anyone with health concerns should always check with their doctor before beginning one.
Even completely healthy people should be careful and do their homework to make sure they choose a cleanse that is safe. While The Master Cleanse may be all the rage in Hollywood to lose weight, it is not a good option due to its very limited calories (it recommends drinking two quarts of water, one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 14 tablespoons of lemon juice and 14 tablespoons of maple syrup a day for 7 to 10 days).
The Elimination Diet which centers around removing certain foods including but not limited to dairy, red meats, gluten-containing foods, all processed foods, etc is another choice that is less restrictive as it is less restrictive of calories and allows some kinds of protein, vegetables and limited servings of fruit and gluten-free grain.
Juice fasting is another possibility which focuses on fruit smoothies and soup with vegetables. While lacking in some food groups it does contain more calories than The Master Cleanse and can help give the digestive system a break.
Other cleanses exist for purchase that may include everything from vitamins and supplements to ingredients for shakes.
Practitioners of alternative medicine believe cleanses can help purify the body from the toxins we are exposed to every day. However, it is important to select the right type of cleanse, use common sense and check with a healthcare provider if there are any doubts.
- Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow
- Clean by Alejandro Junger