Trust Your Gut: What You Need to Know About Cleanses & Detoxes

Walk into any health/vitamin store, and you’re going to see rows of ‘Liver cleanses’, “Master cleanses”, and ‘Colon cleanses’ on the left. On the right, you’ll see aisles of juice detoxes, detox teas, and detox greens. How do you know which one to choose? Which one is most effective? Do you prioritize your colon or your liver? And what’s the difference between a detox and a cleanse anyway? Wait. Slow down. Hold up. Take a breath. Let’s break it down.

What is a Cleanse/Detox?

To cleanse, according to the dictionary means, “To make (something) thoroughly clean.” When you Google, “Definition of a cleanse”, you get, “A process or period of time during which a person attempts to rid the body of substances regarded as toxic or unhealthy, typically by consuming only water or other liquids.” When you Google, “What is a detox?” it says, “A process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.” Uh, what? Is Google telling us these are the same thing? Have we been duped to all these years, and are salespeople using made up words to sell us ‘health’?

Look at the definitions again; “A process or period of time…” – The definition says nothing about “a tea”, or “a pill”, or “a recipe.” That’s because physiologically speaking, our bodies come with built-in detox/purification systems. What do you think your liver and kidneys do? They filter and process all the junk we take in (both knowingly and unknowingly, ie. Alcohol and pollutants). Every time you sweat hard at the gym or go to the bathroom, your body is detoxing. That’s the cheap and all natural way to do it! And your body does it automatically, without paying $150 a week for some manufacturer to puree all your fruits and veggies for you so you drink your ‘food’ for a week.

We already have the best tools available

We are born with nature’s best forms of detoxing ourselves: Willpower and cleansing organs. If you’ve ever had a day (weekend/month?) where you’ve eaten too much sugar or drank too much alcohol, you’ve definitely felt the effects. Anything consumed in excess, whether it’s sugar, red meat, heavy metals from the soil, or alcohol, is considered a toxin, and wreaks havoc on your internal system. You ate a whole pint of ice cream, or had one too many vodka tonics, and that day, or the next morning, your body is NOT having it. Your stomach is upset, you’re sleepy and lethargic, and maybe bloated, too. This is your body telling you that was an awful idea, and it’s trying to figure out what to do with the crap you just gave it. But hit the gym for an hour, get your sweat on, eat your greens, and go back to your clean eating nutrition plan, and that bloat/lethargy is gone. Bada-bing Bada-boom!

Unless you get hit with Gamma Rays, or eat radioactive waste for dinner (what are the macros on that?), your body is equipped to deal with pretty much anything you can throw at it. It will struggle if you’re not getting enough water or fiber/micronutrients.

So what do you do?

“Your body wants to get rid of the unhealthy stuff, but if you keep eating more junk, you’re not going to be able to get the other junk out,” says Denis Faye, M.S. “It’s like clogging a drain.” It doesn’t take a scientist or dietician to tell you that too much crap is bad for you. The power is in your hands when it comes to making the right choices in the kitchen. One article from says that when it comes to juice cleanses, “Even juices without added sugar tend to be high on the glycemic index, which means your blood glucose levels will spike and then fall dramatically after consuming them, particularly without other food in your stomach to blunt this effect.” Many other cleanses will leave your body deficient in a number of nutrients, as they aren’t mean to be adhered to for long periods of time.

So next time you’re walking down the rows of cleanses and aisles of detoxes, look down at your liver and kidneys, take a long drink of water, and say, “Thanks!”, because you already have what that supplement store is selling