The dirt on cleansing regimens

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: April 7th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Glance at the tabloids lining the supermarket shelves and you’ll find any number of models promoting strict cleansing regimens designed to flush the body of fat and toxins. Many willowy superstars have admitted they regularly engage in juice-only fasts to drop a few extra pounds and boost energy.

The way they describe it, a cleanse sounds healthy and refreshing. Who wouldn’t like to lose weight while ridding the body of impurities? But doctors say there’s little documented evidence these routines have any benefit. And they may in fact be harmful.

While fasting is nothing new, cleansing routines became chic with the popularity of books like The Fat Flush, which advocates a high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal plan of just twelve-hundred calories a day, and The Master Cleanse, where participants drink a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water.

Proponents say that by avoiding certain foods while ingesting nutritional and herbal supplements, the body is able to rid itself of a variety of evils.

Most doctors say the theory is bunk. The body can already expel harmful toxins without the use of dietary supplements. So-called purifying treatments, such as laxatives or colonics, can lead to fainting spells, muscle cramps and dehydration. And over-consumption of liquids can lead to too low a level of sodium in the blood.

If you’re really concerned about being good to your body, eat a balanced diet. Take a multivitamin every once and a while. And listen to your doctor… not a celebrity… if you want to lose weight.