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5 Truths About Cleansing from a Holistic Nutrition Perspective

As my social media following grows, I’m starting to experience the double-edged sword that is getting your message out there and dealing with the backlash.

One particular topic of debate – the truth about cleansing. According to some, cleansing and detoxing is bullshit. Cleansing is equivalent to selling “snake oil” and we should “just stop”.

I understand, we are inundated with false truths and myths all the time. In the age of information, it’s hard to know what to believe and who to believe.

I encourage the debate, but I think it’s time to clear up the basic cleansing myths.  First, I’m redefining cleansing for you.  Cleansing is not starvation and deprivation.  When you cleanse you should be eating whole foods, chewing and savoring every bite.  Cleansing is not a liquid diet, cleansing does not eliminate healthy fats, proteins, fibers, and complex carbohydrates.

Here are the 5 most common misconceptions about cleansing:

Myth #1: Cleansing is difficult and complicated 

Your body naturally cleanses itself every day, it’s a cleansing machine. While the inter-workings of your body may be a bit complicated, the process of cleansing is anything but. Cleansing has a complicated connotation because it has been misconstrued. I want you to know cleansing can be as easy as cutting out added/artificial sugars, gluten, dairy, and processed foods. Cleansing is increasing your fiber, drinking lemon water throughout the day to flush toxins, adding in herbs like cilantro and parsley, going for a daily 20 minute walk, and focusing on fruits, veggies, and lean protein.  Check out my easy ways to detox everyday here. Since your body does it all the time, supporting it and making the process easier isn’t that hard.  With the overload of toxins in our food, water, air and environment, giving your body a little extra help doesn’t hurt.

Myth #2: The medical community is anti-cleansing.

While Dr.Smith who has been practicing for 60 years may not promote cleansing, many cleansing and detox programs are promoted by doctors as well as naturopaths, nutritionists, and functional medicine doctors. Becoming a medical doctor does not require extensive nutritional training, so in order for them to learn about the benefits of cleansing and detoxifying, additional education is required. Our healthcare system is changing and it will make sense to run a prevention based model over a symptom based model, because of this, I anticipate more doctors promoting cleansing. Be aware that cleansing does not mean deprivation and complication, if you feel this way do your research and make sure you’re getting a proper balance of nutrients with the program you choose.

Myth #3: Cleansing is a passing trend.

If you call thousands of years a trend, then cleansing is a trend! While the concept of “cleansing” has only caught on in the past 15 years here in the US, the practice has been historically documented in many cultures including Indian Ayurvedic medicine (about 5,000 yrs. ago) and South American purification rituals. The cleansing movement in the US was brought on by our increased awareness of toxins in our environment. The more we learned about toxins in our water, food, and air, the more we realized that cleansing is needed to give our colon, liver, and kidneys a little extra support (they do a great job, but extra TLC helps!).

Myth #4: Cleansing is only for weight loss.

It’s highly likely that you know someone who started a cleanse for the primary reason of weight loss. It happens, but it doesn’t make it right. Cleansing is not a quick fix and should not be. If you’re cleansing to lose unreasonable pounds in a short time or starving yourself and living on liquids for days at a time, you’re not doing it right! Cleansing and detoxing is a program for the whole body. You will begin to decrease inflammation, your digestive system should improve, there is an emotional component that will help you get in touch with your emotional eating, you will begin to distinguish cravings from needs and will diminish the need for sugars and processed foods. My cleanses are designed to create a foundation for living a cleansing lifestyle, they are not get skinny quick programs. You chew your food, eat throughout the day, and don’t deprive yourself of the nutritional components you need. Weight loss can be a side effect, but it should not be your motivation for cleansing.

Myth #5: Science doesn’t support it.

Specific foods and their nutrients determine…the effectiveness of your detoxification process. Compromise the detox process, and a toxic load of substances builds up in the body and poisons your metabolism.” – Jeffrey Bland

There is a lot of support for cleansing programs in functional medicine, including a textbook on the science of detoxifying. There are peer-reviewed articles with scientific evidence of the benefit of balanced cleansing. I agree there is not enough conventional medical evidence for detoxifying, but feel this is based on the little financial incentive. Unlike a pharmaceutical company who can conduct research studies and profit billions of dollars, the wellness community doesn’t have the same resources. The proof that my programs like my 21 day, Cleanse Your Body, Cleanse Your Life, work is in the fact that clients are able to go off of medication and live more energized, happier lives.  Their blood sugar stabilizes, LDL cholesterol drops, blood pressure lowers, energy and physical activity improves, digestion becomes regular.  The proof for me is seeing my clients glowing, energized, looking and feeling like a new person!

If you’re looking for everyday ways to incorporate easy cleansing habits into your routine, check out my blog post here.

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