Your Body Cleanses Itself

Juice Cleanses Are Not Necessary! from 100 Days of #RealFood

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I understand my stance on “juice cleanses” may not be the popular one (especially this time of year), but let’s face it – your body cleanses itself. I almost *cringe* every time I hear someone’s practically starving themselves by not actually eating any regular food and only drinking green juices and the like. Maybe they think they’ll feel great and it will help them lose weight (even if it’s just water weight) – but, in my opinion, not eating (i.e. chewing) any food for a few days sounds pretty extreme and like the opposite of “fun” to me.

Extreme Diet Trends

Leave it to us Americans though to once again take the enjoyment out of food. We are one of the few countries that obsesses over counting this or limiting that or not pairing two particular foods together at a certain time of day (this last one I never really understood?). What happened to just eating a variety of whole foods – and simply stopping when you feel full or, better yet, satisfied – and actually taking pleasure in the whole process?? I am pretty sure that’s the way things were meant to be, and also, by default, it would help us to avoid some of those unwanted chemicals and additives (i.e. toxins found in highly processed food) in the first place.

A Professional Opinion

If you look at the facts, all of this isn’t really just “in my opinion.” I spoke to a local Colorectal Surgeon, Dr. Robert Stevens, who specializes in colons (obviously) – one of the organs people are attempting to “flush the toxins out of” with juice cleansing. I know Dr. Stevens personally (and trust him), and he verifies that your colon, liver and kidneys make up your very own amazing detoxification system. Imagine that – we are already equipped with all the right parts to naturally rid ourselves of unwanted toxins and feel good! Not to mention that not eating for a few days can cause dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and even colon damage (yikes).

Dr. Stevens tells me, “The most beneficial natural colon ‘cleanse’ is dietary fiber. Consuming the whole fruit or vegetable (not just the juice) is the best way to ensure that the contents of the colon are adequately evacuated along with any toxins that might remain.” As I learned during my own recent experiment, juicing can be expensive, time-consuming, and also does not provide you with the whole vegetable because “juicers” actually remove that fiber he is talking about (which can leave you still feeling hungry afterward, as it did for me).

I want to make it clear that there’s certainly nothing wrong with drinking a green juice, but it should not be considered an adequate substitution for regular food – especially for days on end.

No Evidence Cleanses Work

Not only is the act of giving up real food during a juice fast/cleanse basically the opposite of human nature, but there is also little to no scientific evidence that it actually flushes out any toxins in the first place (as confirmed here and here). Have you ever seen a credible, peer-reviewed study that proves these cleanses really work? If so, please do share it with us in the comments.

So some probably won’t like that I am saying all of this – and others may actually thank me (you can finally chew your food again – yay!) – but either way this is where I stand. In general, be careful about extreme diet trends and remember to eat a variety of wholesome, healthy foods that you can actually take the time to enjoy. :)

In Summary

Why i don't like juice #cleanses from 100 Days of #RealFood

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155 thoughts on “Your Body Cleanses Itself”

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  1. I’m thinking that there are a lot of traditional celebrations that include a short fast at the change of seasons…possibly for health reasons, though (obviously) not spelled out that way.
    Whenever I have stomach issues, my dr suggests a short liquid fast to give the organs a chance to rest and reset, though I don’t have peer reviewed articles to share. It does usually help, although I’d rather they help me get to the root of the problem. (Real food helps but hasn’t solved things)

  2. The lack of peer reviewed studies concerning the effectiveness of juice cleansers might be due to the fact that such studies cannot be funded by anyone who would ever make a profit from conducting and not because juice cleansers don’t work… Just a thought.

    1. Hmm…I get what you’re saying and usually tend to agree. However, in this case I’d think the manufacturers of the various juicers would stand to make a profit.

  3. I agree, plus the fact that the act of chewing actually helps satiety signals. While smoothies and juices can be great when you’re unable to sit down and eat, they should replace actual food. (I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Master’s in Exercise Science with numerous nutrition classes.)

  4. Not sure if I would hang my hat on modern medicine. They have repeatedly been wrong- anyone bleeding themselves these days? What I will say is a combo- things like your nutribullet that break it down and make it easy to get nutrition into your body- win. But I’ll also add that beet juices do show substantial results.

    Lisa it is true, livers and colons are meant to cleanse but many are flooding their bodies with processed junk, caffeine and alcohol to the point that the May need a cleanse

    1. Using a nutribullet to essentially make a smoothie is not the same thing as a juice cleanse where are getting rid of almost all of the fiber. The fiber is what helps cleanse your body of those toxins. You can cleanse your body naturally by eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Not by trying to live off of three glasses of juice a day for 7+ days. That will do nothing to rid your body of the toxins you mentioned.

      1. Normal juice cleanses are more like 6 glasses of natural organic cold pressed juices for only 3 days and most allow a raw and vegan diet if you feel the need.

    2. Are you really going to argue we shouldn’t trust modern medicine because St a used to use leeches? By that argument, we shouldn’t trust modern science because some scientists used to think the world was flat and that the sun revolves around us. However, trusting an internet fad that isn’t supported by people with actual degrees who study the most current research is to be preferred. Absurd if you think about it. Please think about it.

  5. Leave it to people who have never tried it to pooh-pooh something. First, completely removing sugar from your diet is nearly impossible unless you switch to a completely veggie/fruit diet. Sugar is added to everything processed. The reason it shocks your body is because the parasites in your body feed off of the sugar, and they don’t like it when you stop feeding them.

    Green juices give your body a chance to detox the sugar, pesticides and medications out of your body by letting the body work on healing health issues instead of digesting. Juices and smoothies are basically “pre-digested” when they are broken down so much by juicing or blending. It’s not “starving” yourself. You are still getting all of the nutrients of eating a huge salad or giant bowl of fruit with ever drink, without killing all of the beneficial enzymes by cooking it. And anyone who is doing a juice cleanse would not just stop doing it because you said they should… Those who do it know that it will help their body heal. Maybe you should try a cleanse to get rid of the parasites that are apparently inhabiting where your brain should be. I’m now unsubscribing from your list, because you do absolutely no research before you create a post.

    1. I completely agree with beachlover and I don’t think it is right to take such a solid stand on something you have never tried. My body craves juice and highly recommend it to anyone try to cut out bad carbs and sugar. .

  6. I did a two day, 48 hour fast once, basically drinking all my calories. At the end of that time I felt great — clearheaded and with more energy than I’d had in well, years. As soon as I ate something *boom* back to the normal dragged-out tired and cloudy-headed feeling. I don’t know if this is due to some undiagnosed food allergy.. but I do know it happened.

  7. @Jenny Homemade applesauce is easy to make. It will also have all the fiber. And Most kids like it. Buy or bake whole grain bread. Whole grain noodles or macaroni for his favorite pasta dishes. These are simple ways to keep fiber in his diet with little fuss. Also more water in his diet.
    My kids thought a raw veggie tray with “dip” was a treat. I served it often because they loved it.

  8. I need help for my 4 year old who stays constipated. I am using MilraLax daily for him. What can I do specifically to help him? Is MiraLax safe? Thanks,

    1. Miralax use regularly will make the bowel lazy and will make constipation worse. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy with veggies, and let the kid sit on the toilet 10 minutes at least twice a day. Keep miralax for special occasions!

  9. Great article, thank you for this!!!
    I really wanted to try “juicing” some time ago, but found that 1) I couldn’t afford it. 2) Oh my word, I may die of starvation and 3) All of the waste!!!! So I decided to start “blending” so that I was getting ALL of the fruit/veggies/fiber. My family and I make a veggie/fruit “smoothie” nearly every day between breakfast and lunch. We use 1/2 organic greens, along with veggies such as beets, broccoli, carrot, etc… and then banana, apple, and whatever fresh in-season, or organic frozen fruit we can find. No sugar, no honey, no junk. Just good ole raw fruits and veggies. And you know what, my kids LOVE their smoothies! In fact, we met friends recently at a ‘healthy smoothie’ chain, and I was SHOCKED when my child asked if it was a CANDY smoothie… apparently they added over 1/4 CUP of SUGAR to the “healthy smoothie”!!! I’ll just stick to making my own, because they are truly healthy!!!

  10. I love this Lisa. My neighbor is super into that “IsAgenix” cleanse stuff. She really touts it as this amazing, “organic/no GMO” super healthy thing and she says she feels better – hair, nails, skin. I never say anything against it, but I can’t help but feel that drinking shakes and eating bars made in factories just can’t be as good for a human body as eating real food, right? Do you have any knowledge of the IsAgenix? If not, it’s okay… just curious.

    Love your posts – you have changed my life!!

  11. I’m so confident, Lisa, that you would notice a change after doing a two week Isagenix cellular level cleanse that I’d love to buy you one just to get your opinion. :) It includes 4 deep cleanse days and the other days you just add two shakes into your already healthy diet. Let me know!

  12. I agree with this post. It is most certainly true that our bodies are created to be able to “detox” themselves, but from what I have studied it is the chemicals and lack of nutrition that majority of Americans consume daily that contributes to the need for an actual detox for people. Those people that eat right, real, and balanced shouldn’t have a need to ever do so!

    This is why I love your website so much, because of all of the real food recipes, I LOVE everything that I’ve tried from your recipe list :)

    I have done plenty of juicing and smoothies over the past few years as my interest in healthy eating has gained it’s momentum and I became “that person” in my extended family. But from what I have studied in school, and have learned from my dad, (who is a Physician of Integrative Medicine,) is that consuming only green tea and water for no more than two days is the best form of detox for someone who has the need to do so (which would those people who consume chemical and preservative laden food, cheap meat with antibiotics/hormones, etc.) It allows the digestive system to shed it’s lining and heal without piling on more toxins. People don’t like to hear that something as cheap and accessible as green tea is an option because it is so simple and basic. Everyone thinks green juicing and smoothies are cool, the greener the better. And it is true, it is a great supplement, not substitute, especially for people who it is difficult to feed fruits and veggies to, i.e. my husband when we first got married :) (In case you were wondering, he loves what I make now because he has officially acquired the taste for clean foods.)

    Anyways, all that to say, this is a great post. Thanks for sharing!

  13. The topic of this article was juice cleanses, but since fasting came up in the comments, I read up at Web MD. Interstingly, fasting is agreed upon as an unhealthy way to lose weight, but there is some disagreement among doctors as to other health benefits of fasting. The doctor cited as being in favor makes it clear that the technique is effective when preceeded and followed by a healthy diet. It also seems to be helpful in treating autoimmune issues as it acts a disruptor, hence one commenter’s success in treating psoriasis with a cleanse/fast.

    I discussed diet changes with a friend who studied nutrition, and she mentioned that even though things like sugar are problematic for our bodies, it is not recommended to suddenly cut out sugar from a diet as it is shocking to your system. Similarly, cleansing methods are hard on the body which adjusts its chemical processes gradually. Instead of trying to bypass the body’s natural cleansing mechanisms, give it the food it needs to get the job done, and make your body’s job easier by cutting out as many toxins as you can in the first place.

  14. They have you clear out your colon before a colonoscopy so that they can see the lining clearly while they do the test, not for any “cleansing” benefit.

    Thank you for talking about this, Lisa. These sorts of fads and pseudo-scientific practices *can* be harmful. A friend just spent months treating what she thought was irritable bowel with various juices and supplements, until one day she started vomiting and couldn’t stop. What she had was a cancerous tumor that had been growing and was now blocking her intestines, and the cancer had metastasized.

  15. I just went through a awful cleanse for a colonoscopy. The cleanse was not done for my health but for my colon to be clean for the scope to see what is going on. Never did the Doctor say the cleanse is healthy for me. Any one in their right mind can not think that having diarrhea for 24 hrs is good for you.

  16. Juices made of whole foods are chewed. They are not pure liquid.

    It is also not against human nature to not eat for a span of time. hunter gatherers did not eat 3-5 times a day and necessarily a variety of food. They ate when they had access to food. In bad weather in times of war they did not eat much.

  17. Sometimes I feel like bloggers become so opinionated after doing things for a little while. I feel like you did a wonderful job, Lisa, transitioning your family to whole foods and sharing the journey was wonderful. I loved the light hearted blog with great recipes. But overly opinionated posts like these make me move on to the next blogger…I feel like it just brings negativity into my computer and negativity towards an idea (better eating, doing what you can to move into a healthier lifestyle) that is so unnecessary. Especially when eating clean is what you have make your whole career on. If even just one person is feeling better from juicing and incorporating those extra greens into their life, then it is completely the right thing for them.

    1. Different people have different opinions. That is not ‘negativity’ – it is just a different opinion. As nice as it is to always have your personal opinions validated, if you only listen to the opinions of those who think exactly like you do, you will never learn anything or grow. Lisa is not forcing you to give up cleansing or juicing or saying you are a bad person if do juice or cleanse. She’s offering her opinion – and backing it up. You are still free to disagree. Don’t limit yourself!

  18. Interestingly though, you’re required to do a cleanse before a colonoscopy… I’m not signing up for a no-real-food-for-3-days “cleanse” any time soon, but sometimes people need a reset to start a healthy change for themselves even if it’s not really needed to detox their bodies.

    1. They require you to empty your colon to be able to get clear pictures…this statement has nothing to do with health/weighloss or cleanses.

    2. Having had the dubious “pleasure” of experiencing a colonoscopy, and with the intention of not being too graphic–the “cleanse” before a colonoscopy is intended to empty the digestive tract. It has nothing to do with “healthy change” or “detox”, it is so that the colon is completely empty to allow for passage of the flexible tubing and camera, as well as clear field of vision. I promise you, the clear liquid diet for 24 hours, followed by the huge doses of powerful laxatives, is not recommended for any other purpose whatsoever! Ask ANY health professional and I feel 100% certain they will agree with me on this point.

    3. I completely realize that! Sorry I should have made that more clear. It just seemed ironic and somewhat comical to me! I also will say (maybe TMI!) that I’ve had the unfortunate experience of doing a “cleanse” haha after getting food poisoning in Mexico. It definitely was not on purpose, but after my *ahem* really clean colon I no longer had the GI issues that had baffled my doctors for years!

  19. To those who are using Isagenix links and other PRODUCTS as “proof”…of course they want to sell you on the idea of a cleanse..they want you to buy their products. If you don’t have any medical issues that would require a liquid diet or limited foods, what is the purpose? The “toxins” in your body are cleaned out by your body itself everyday. As long as they are functioning properly and you are eating nutrients to supply your body with what it needs, your body with “cleanse” itself.

  20. Fasting has been used for centuries to overcome many health problems….It shuts down the digestion system and allows the body to heal whatever is wrong over time. When your body is constantly digesting food, it has no energy to put forth healing. People can and have lived off juices for months without hurting themselves and overcome so many illnesses. First thing an animal does when it’s sick is stop eating. When we get sick our hunger goes away. People should really be more educated on this subject before giving an ignorant opinion.

    1. I think you must’ve missed some of the article… she DID research and became more educated from a DOCTOR who SPECIALIZES in colon health. “When we get sick our hunger goes away”… to me, this is completely irrelevant to the topic of choosing a cleanse when your body is not shutting down hunger due to sickness, therefor putting your body into a mode of starvation. Which in turn can completely destroy any hope of getting a great start on weightloss. There is plenty of educated people who will vouch for the fact that depriving yourself of whole food altogether not only has damaging results to your body and weight loss, but also has negative impact on you mentally as well. It also produces unhealthy mindsets regarding food which can lead to eating disorders or similar mentality.

  21. Agree with this post. I’ve always assumed that juice cleanses, and other forms of extreme dieting, are about people need ing to feel control over their bodies. There’s so much evidence out there against extreme diets that the only reason I can think why people do them is to fill some sort of psychological need.

  22. The juicing trend, as a way to supplement/aid (not replace) our regular diet is FANTASTIC! …BUT… When you start talking about multiple-day cleanses, a “Juicing Diet,” or anything else that removes solid, whole food from our diet for more than a meal, it can’t be good for you. The only true way to “diet” is to decide to eat healthier foods, drink non-chemically altered liquids, and exercise. If your body’s consumption of calories is greater than your daily intake, you will lose weight. If you decide to train your body to consume healthy food appropriately, it will happen all the easier.

    By training your body to consume healthily, eat appropriate serving sizes (roughly the size of a double fist – fingers interlocked) as a complete, balanced meal. If this needs to happen more than 3 times daily – so be it, but you will gradually decrease your caloric intake naturally by following this method.

    Juicing can help supplement the between meal times with healthy fibers, nutrients, and vitamins that we commonly miss otherwise. This will also keep your stomach feeling full when you crave that mid-afternoon snack.

    Lastly, if we actually consumed the amount of water that we are naturally meant to (instead of replacing it with other high-sodium and refined-sugar substitutes like sodas), the food you eat will naturally absorb the water like a sponge, making you feel full and hydrating you at the same time. Diet drinks are completely off the map. False sugars fool your body into believing that you are consuming real, natural sugars and automatically begins the process for storage. This CAUSES weight gain and water retention.

    Moral of the story… stick with Water and natural juices (Juicing as a dietary supplement or aid), eat smaller portions that are fresh and balanced, exercise daily. You’ll feel better, lose weight, and your body’s cleansing systems will get back to working how they were designed in the first place.

  23. I also use juice plus and totally agree with you Susie ,low cost and no mess I was recommended it due to my diabetes and it really is a wonder food , we also take the capsules as well as the shakes , as they taste great especially when blended with a choice of extra fruit and vegetables .

  24. I only drink juice plus ,which is classed and scientifically proven many times over from university’s all over the world,it has over 20 nutrients all organic derived from not just the fruit,berries and vegetable it’s self but contains the stems ,seeds and stalks ,it is dried out at such a low heat process that all the micro nutrients are still alive and bio available to your body , it is recommended by health professionals and my children love it too , I have never felt so good , it has nothing added at all and taste great , without the mess and costs of buying lots of fruit and vegetables , it cleanses your body ,lowers insulin levels, and reduces oxadive stress , and promotes quicker healing to your body , and is affordable ,of course we still eat many a variety of fruit and vegetables in my household , but this really does bridge the gap and is again proven and classed to be a whole food ,

  25. It depends on who is doing it and for what reason. There is a lot of research to validate the benefits of fasting in certain situations. Just look on PubMed. Also, fasting has been a part of many cultures and religions and it no doubt served a very real biological purpose. There is also research to support this. Fasting is only against human nature in the Western world of today.

    Assuming you are juicing low sugar (specifically low fructose) vegetables and fruit, you are certainly taking in an abundance of nutrients that would be difficult to get from eating whole foods only, which should still comprise the majority of your diet (particularly vegetables). Someone with a compromised digestive function, which is unfortunately, many people these days, may very well not extract optimal nutrients from whole foods. You need adequate stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile to properly assimilate nutrients. High fiber foods can be particularly difficult for many people to digest, despite their benefits.

    Getting all your nutrition from whole foods is certainly optimal, but many of our conventional foods are depleted of nutrients because of current farming and food handling practices. Also, anyone with any sort of chronic health condition has a much higher need for nutrients than the average person. Juicing can be a better alternative than synthetic vitamins (natural sources tends to have vitamins and minerals in quantities that optimize synergy, thereby absorption, also, potentially many nutrients that have yet to be studied) and pharmaceutical drugs.

    As with anything else that is trendy, unfortunately, it is the implementation that is problematic. But, that does not mean that there is no benefit or that it is a dangerous practice in itself if done for a very short period of time and within the right context (the body will slow down during this period, increased rest and reduced stress is essential). Also, any long term diet should be both nutrient dense and composed mainly of whole foods, as well as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, with plenty of sleep, reduced stress and moderate exercise.

  26. You really stirred the pot here! I agree with so much of what you said. If we as a society did not eat so many processed foods, did not overindulge in things we know are bad for us and did not look for a “magic bullet” be it a fad diet, extreme diet, juice cleanse, etc. we would be better off. We take no responsibility for our actions for anything (watch CSPAN to get the trickle down of that trait) and eating is one of the biggies. I am compulsive about sweets, so I don’t keep them in the house.I have been on so many Diets to figure out that eating mindfully and as close to nature as possible is the best for me and my family. Yes, I don’t eat grains as much during the week, mostly because they jack my sugar. I don’t keep crap in my house, because the chemicals in it shut down the “I’m full” part of our brains. Everyone should eat like you recommend, no exceptions. Taking responsibility for your actions is the first thing you learn in Kindergarten. Eating is part of that.

  27. I use a Nutrubullet; blends the whole fruit, veggie, etc so you are benefitting and getting all the nutrients. Always can feel the “boost” of all that healthy in my system. : )

  28. Sonnes is a GREAT way to DETOX your body and not starve yourself. It atracks all the bad stuff in your body and you expel it when you go to the bathroom. It is safe to take every day too!

  29. What a great story, I’m really happy it has worked for you :)

    I am doing a mix of juicing and whole/clean food. I am 44 and have to say I feel better than I did ten years ago, well if I’m honest EVER! I am now eating and juicing such a huge variety of foods, many of which I hadn’t eaten before. I love this page and I think what Lisa has done has helped inspire many people. I wish she could revisit this topic maybe after doing some research she will understand better :)