Judging from how packed my gym is at all hours of the day these past couple of weeks, it's obvious that New Year's resolutions are still in full effect. And any health food store you walk into is pushing supplements and detoxes galore, hoping people looking to turn over a new leaf in the New Year are also interested in "cleansing" after a year season full of gluttony. Even Gwyneth Paltrow's jumped on the cleansing train with her new "GOOP in a box" kit that'll run ya a hefty $425.
It's these kinds of cleanses that you'll shell out big money for and that come in a box that are triggering a negative backlash from experts (usually those who make a habit of dissing alternative medicine) who say cleansing is a waste of time and money. But they're failing to tell the whole story.
The truth is that cleansing the RIGHT way is definitely not a waste of time and can be a fabulous idea for most people. What anyone who is interested in doing one needs to know, though, is that some cleanses are, well, crap.
Lissa Rankin, M.D., an integrative medicine doctor and author of the forthcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), is a friend of mine and has always been a big advocate of cleansing ... correctly! She explains:
Some cleanses are not only not healthy; they're downright dangerous. Cleanses that come in bottles or a box usually do not offer the body the nutrition the body requires in order to cleanse properly. Cleansing can also be an excuse for people with eating disorders to engage in disordered eating, often by severely restricting their intake of food in anorexic behavior.
Eewww. Bad news, right? So then how should you cleanse? Dr. Rankin actually offers her own M.D.-backed Pink & Green Juice Cleanse that incorporates "loads of green." In other words, instead of depriving your body as a way to "detox," you support it with fresh veggie juice, homemade mineral broth, vegan soups, and herbal tea. All good stuff that helps you "rest your digestion and self-heal." She explains the rationale behind this:
Cells that store toxins under unhealthy conditions can release the toxins via the primary organs of elimination -- the colon, the kidneys, and the skin. When the toxins are eliminated as they should be, you have loads more energy, less illness, and better health. Also, in the process, you usually lose extra weight you may be carrying, which can be easily kept off if you modify your diet post-cleanse to incorporate more raw foods and green nutrition.
In other words, a cleanse should be about taking a time-out to refresh your digestive system, rid your body toxins healthfully, and boost your overall well-being ... not subject yourself to torture and punishment or deprivation. The bottom line: Cleanses aren't all one in the same, and choosing to cleanse is very personal and individualized decision. But if you go for it, doing it the healthy way is obviously the only way to detox.
Are you interested in cleansing?
Image via Tamara Smith/Flickr