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What Should I Know About Getting a Body Cleanse?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Body cleanses are a temporary diet program popular in alternative medicine. According to supporters, by temporarily changing or supplementing the diet with a variety of pills, foods, and liquids, cleansing can help free the body from lingering toxic elements. Body cleanses are hotly debated in the health world, with detractors claiming they are based on faulty science and supporters insisting they promote good health.

A body cleanse can fall under several different headings but many are meant to detoxify the body. People on a detox cleanse will often consume nothing but water, certain fruit and vegetable juices, and vitamin supplements for several days. Detox cleanses also usually include a diuretic to promote digestion and clean out the kidneys and colon. Common natural diuretics used include dandelion root, ginger, or lemon juice. According to supporters, a detox cleanse will give users more energy, reduce water weight, and generally improve well-being.

Depending on the type of body cleanse being used, a colon cleanse may be recommended by proponents. This process, which involves squirting water or other fluids into the anus, is meant to clear out any excess waste stored inside the colon. There are several risks associated with regular or even occasional colon cleanses, including anemia, dehydration, and even serious cardiac issues such as heart attack.

Some cleanse programs suggest the use of nutritional supplements during the cleanse, which may contain appetite suppressants, vitamins and minerals. Often, these supplements are marketed by the maker of a particular body cleanse, and are meant to be used in concert with their recommended program. Consumers should be aware that these supplements are rarely, if ever, subjected to the rigorous testing programs administered by the Food and Drug Association (FDA).

While advertisements promote results of well-being and supreme happiness, the reality of a body cleanse is often far less pleasant. The sudden lack of carbohydrates in the diet can lead to a severe drop in energy level, and even concentration ability. In the first few days, gas, headaches, exhaustion, and muscle cramps are all very common. Caffeine addicts may also find themselves cranky and ill-disposed to being pleasant.

Extended body cleanse programs carry the risk of malnutrition and depletion of the immune system. In addition, many health experts insist that the body is an advanced detoxifying machine that can handle its own cleansing without additional help. By eating a regular diet high in fruits, vegetables and fiber and low in refined sugars, people can help their body perform its normal cleansing functions by giving it the proper nutrients. According to some detractors, body cleanses are nothing more than a scam with potentially dangerous side effects.

A brief body cleanse may be beneficial for anyone attempting to permanently change their diet and health lifestyle. By switching to juice-based or raw food diets quickly, a person may be able to break their bad food habits and slowly add in healthier foods to their diet. According to some supporters, additional liquid intake can lead to some loss of water weight, though cleanses are typically not meant for weight loss.

Body cleanses are clearly a mixed bag, with strong opinions both in favor and against. According to most health experts, they are certainly not a replacement for a consistently healthy diet. Some people may experience good side effects, but all potential cleanse users should be vigilant regarding possible ill effects to both their body and their overall health.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGEEK. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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