What should I consider before starting a nutritional cleanse?

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
In prep for bathing suits and beach fun, many are trying to think of the fastest and most effective way to shed winter weight, winter skin, and achieve that summer glow. The question is, are all cleanses created equal? And if not, which ones pass muster. First, keep in mind that we can't outsmart our bodies -- the body has specific systems for cleansing which include the short term excretions (bowels, urine and skin), as well as expectorant (sneeze, cough, etc) to get rid of bugs immediately. For a deeper cleanse, the body has systems as well: a two phase system to liberate toxins and then to eliminate them. So if a nutrition cleanse doesn't tap into the body's systems it will be working at cross purposes and can at minimum be ineffective and at worst, be dangerous. Speaking of dangers, anyone on medications (even something as seemingly unrelated as anti-depressants) or others with risk factors for heart disease, gets a red light. Do not proceed until speaking with your doctor and ideally a dietitian before starting a cleanse.
Heidi Skolnik, MS
Sports Medicine
Nutritional cleanses are very popular now for sure...the first question I would ask is why are you doing it? It has somehow become a masked effort toward weight loss (and an ineffective one at  that). As for the cleanse part, our bodies are very well equipped to detox -- that is what our gut, kidneys and liver do. Still, if you feel in a rut and need to "cleanse" to start afresh, try a cleanse that includes lean protein, fruits and vegetables for the first few days.  the alternative liquid cleanses can be so low calorie that the side effects are prohibitive for full functioning, exercise or even concentrating at your desk!
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Family Medicine
Most people can handle a nutritional cleanse -- but that doesn't mean they're safe for everyone. In this video, I will explain who should be sure to talk to a doctor before starting a cleanse.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.