A friend of mine recently came over to my apartment for a study date. I was in the middle of making pasta for lunch when she walked through my door, exclaiming, “oh God, I’m so hungry. I can’t smell that.” This confused me, obviously, and I asked her why she didn’t just eat some of it with me. “I’m on the GM Diet,” was her response, “I can only eat bananas today.”
Personally, I have never done a juice cleanse/fad diet. Once, (for this very job) I kept to a strict regime of drinking only hot lemon water with honey for two weeks in the morning, along with a healthy diet when I was writing a blog post about foods and drink that have a noticeably healthy affect on the body and skin- but I’ve never attempted to an ‘official’ fad cleanse before.
I was intrigued, so I berated her with questions: What day are you on? Have you noticed any differences in your body or energy levels? What’s your goal, what do you want to achieve by doing the cleanse? What foods and juices do you have to stick to?
She said her goal wasn’t to lose weight, but to reset her lifestyle, rid herself of cravings and start eating better with smaller portions.
I began to wonder if it necessary for somebody to achieve those goals by going through a strict diet/ cleanse. Perhaps a cleanse is really just the human psyche tricking itself into believing that because you have now started or successfully finished a cleanse, you have rid/are riding yourself of unnecessary toxins and are now able to live a fuller life as a healthier versions of yourself. I wondered if a juice cleanse isn't, in reality, simply having a placebo effect on the mind.
Perhaps, without the struggle of a strict diet, a person could achieve the same hopeful results by simply switching to water instead of coffee, salads instead of sugar and begin working out to produce a similar weight lose and increase of endorphins, making you feel better about yourself and life… are fad cleanses even healthy for the human body?
What Is A Cleanse?
A cleanse is a strict diet someone sticks to for a specific amount of time- anywhere from a few days to multiple weeks. These cleanses boast successful detoxification for your body (and mind), weight loss and in some cases, the prevention of illnesses. For the duration of the time during a cleanse, a person limits themselves to only the food and drink the cleanse allows.
Issues With Cleansing:
Dietary experts recommend that the average person ingest 2.5-6.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, and while cleanses help you to achieve those servings by being able to drink them, this isn’t necessarily the most healthy way for you to get them. Many cleanse diets say that juicing your fruits and vegetables allows you to obtain the maximum benefits of the vitamins and minerals within them, and that it gives your digestive system a break from breaking down the fiber.
The reality is that juicing can actually remove some of the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables, like antioxidants and fiber, which actually help the digestive system. Taking it away by juicing is counter-productive to your body.
By only drinking your fruits&veggies, your body isn’t going to get the healthy amounts of protein and fats that it needs to remain healthy. Foods like avocados, beans and lentils provide the human body with macronutrients; these foods however are rarely included in cleanses. Without essential proteins and fats your body isn’t able to create new tissues- this means your hair and skin will be left in bad shape (how’s that for a fresh, healthy, new you?) The small intestine will also have trouble absorbing specific nutrients into the bloodstream.
After a few days of a cleanse, your body and mind will likely become sluggish. Your brain enters starvation mode- directly affecting your mood, causing most to become irritable from lack of proper nutrient, protein and constant feeling of hunger.
In reality, the “detox” part of a cleanse might be a myth. Your body does a pretty good job of cleaning itself out already. The liver, intestines and kidneys filter out unwanted “toxins” through bowel movements, urine, sweat and breath.
There is also no scientific evidence suggesting that juice cleanses help to cure sicknesses. Juicing may help to increase your vitamin intake, however the lack of protein and calorie intake actually might slow the healing process.
Juicers are expensive! The cost can range from anywhere between $50-$600... save that money for yoga classes and a new pair of shoes and you’ll feel just as fabulous as a cleanse claims you will.
How To Have A Healthy Cleanse:
Rather than only juicing your fruits and vegetables, try to create a balance by combining your juices with whole fruits and vegetables. Make sure you’re not depriving your body of essential nutrients and proteins- eat balanced, well-proportioned meals with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
You should do light exercise while participating in a healthy cleanse. Walks, yoga and stretching are great for the body, just make sure you don’t over-do it. Your energy levels can differ while on a new diet, and you don’t want to be too strenuous on your body.
Meditating and writing in a journal can be great activities to try out while on a cleanse. Easy hikes and being in nature are also good ways to “cleanse” your mind, relax and focus on yourself.
Make sure you heavily research the cleanse before you start it, making sure the benefits are healthy and the reviews aren’t negative!
What do you think of fad diets and cleanses? Done one yourself? Comment below and share your experience and recommendations!
Sky Andersen holds down the role of blog writer at Yoga Accessories. Currently studying Public Relations at Virginia Commonwealth University, she writes for many different publications and is passionate about all things photography, travel and of course- yoga.