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What Is a Cleanse?What Is a Cleanse?


Cleanse / detox diet

A cleanse is a short-term diet that claims to rid the body of toxins, increase energy and initiate weight loss. Most cleanses limit calorie intake to juice and can last from 1 day to a full week.

Sometimes cleanses are called detox diets. Whichever term is used, this type of diet should signal a red flag. While you can gain healthy nutrients from fresh juice, a diet of only juice can put nutritional strain on the body. Juices lack a) protein for building tissues and maintaining muscle mass, b) fiber for fullness and a gut health, and c) healthy fat to aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Additionally, the liver and kidneys efficiently remove toxins from the body when you eat a balanced, healthy diet.

If you are a healthy adult, a 1 day juice cleanse may not have a negative impact on your overall health, but an extended cleanse could have consequences. Not only can a cleanse affect concentration and mood, over time it can cause nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, while you may lose weight due to very low calorie intake and water loss, the weight will likely be gained back once you return to eating food. This has an unhealthy yo-yo effect on body weight.

When presented with a cleanse, do some research. Not all cleanses are bad. Some programs do involve balanced, healthy meals and snacks. But skip programs that require a liquid diet or skeptical supplements. Trust what you know about healthy eating. Focus on balance, variety, lean protein, heart-healthy fat, fruits and vegetables to accomplish your nutrition and weight loss goals.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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