Actually, this is a question I get a lot so I thought I’d do some brain dumping on the matter. Oh wait… do you know what a cleanse is? In a nutshell, it’s a dietary regimen that is supposed to rid your body of toxins and bad stuff.
Is cleansing safe?
This is a huge “maybe”. You will find PUH-LEN-TY of people who will swear 42 ways to Sunday that they’ve done it a million times and it’s totally safe. Great. They are not you. You will not know if the specific cleanse you are considering is safe for you.
The major things to be cautious of–especially if it’s your first time–is that cleansing your body and dumping out a boatload of toxins comes with side effects. People can get sick (like a bad flu) and run fevers as their bodies try to manage the deluge of things that are now trying to leave their body.
Also, a lot of cleanses pretty much slam the body with some extreme eating or drinking regimen with no gentle lead-in. That kind of shock to the body can be a problem, too.
Will I lose weight during a cleanse?
It’s possible, but how much is unknown. This is mostly attributed to the significantly lower calorie intake with most cleanses; but on longer, food-based cleanses–it is mostly due to removing irritant foods from your body and reducing the inflammation that might be keeping weight packed on. That being said: cleansing should not be pursued if your goal is only weight loss. It’s never a given that you will lose weight and it’s not going to result in long-term weight loss. Try one of my group programs because people always lose weight there and tend to keep it off without much difficulty.
Do I need to cleanse if I eat predominantly organic produce and pastured meat (if you eat meat)?
Actually, there will still be toxins in your body from all kinds of things. Supplements, stuff you take in through your shower water, etc. There are always ways to get toxins into your body and therefore the need to clean house is always a possibility. Also, even if you eat clean but you’ve been on a tangent where you’ve had a bit too much sugar–cleansing is a decent way to reset your body balance.
How can I cleanse safely?
It can totally be done. You just need to be sure that you prepare your body rather than slam it; and be sure your body is getting some level of nutrients if you’re doing more than a day’s worth of cleansing. If it’s your first time, doing a food-based cleanse might be the best way to dip your toe in the water. Whole Living magazine put out a wonderful 3-week food-based cleanse in their January 2013 issue called their “Action Plan”. You can find it here although it’s worth buying the back-issue and having the magazine version to refer to frequently (plus it had some details that aren’t online). Otherwise, I happen to really love the book “Juicing, Fasting and Detoxing for Life” as they are careful to ease your body into and out of cleansing; and they’re a great primer on the whole thing so that you can learn to evaluate cleanses offered by others in terms of their safety or applicability to yourself.
If you are doing a cleanse offered by someone else, I would 1) want to ensure that they carry professional liability insurance; 2) ask if the cleanse they are using was designed by someone else; 3) evaluate WHOMEVER designed the cleanse; 4) ask the person what negatives you might observe while cleansing; 5) ask the person what items you should have on hand in case you react negatively to the cleanse; and 6) ask the person supervising the cleanse what their availability is in case you are sick and need guidance.
So by all means, cleanse–but do so carefully and using the steps here to help you do it safely. If you need more help, please let me know. I personally do not supervise cleanses, but I do have a person or two that I may be able to refer you to!