Are Diet Cleanses Safe?

Diet Cleanses

Body cleansing has been around since the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 70s that it gained world-wide popularity, thanks to Stanley Burroughs’ "The Master Cleanser".

Stars like Beyonce, Oprah, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who would do anything to lose weight (either for a role, or for other reasons), resort to diet cleanses.

The Master Diet Cleanse on which Beyonce reportedly lose 20 pounds on is basically lemonade when some other stuff thrown in, such as organic maple syrup, cayenne pepper, or saltwater and laxative tea. Celebrities survive on this concoction a certain period of time.

Experts however, are not sold on the diet cleanse idea. Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia says, "These kinds of diets are not a reasonable approach to weight loss, and there is no data that they do what they claim."

Aside from weight loss, diet cleanses also claim to get rid of the toxins in our body.

However, experts also refute that idea. Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian with the American Diabetic Association says that "We have organs that naturally detoxify us," referring to our liver and kidneys that filter harmful toxins from the blood. "There really isn’t a need for special potions to help that along," he adds Blatner.

While diet cleanses do not really help in flushing out toxins as Blatner says, they almost certainly help you lose weight. Cleanse diets contain about 115 calories per serving only, with a minimum of six servings per day; while cleanse dieters burn about 690 calories daily. In contrast, most women need 1,800 calories a day to maintain their weight.

Unfortunately, all that weight loss is just water weight. Blatner says that within 24-48 hours of going back to a regular diet, people are likely to regain 2 to 3 pounds.

Colonic Irrigation

Another popular cleansing method used for weight loss is a colonic irrigation.

A colonic irrigation works by flushing out the gastrointestinal tract with water. The idea is to remove the toxins that accumulated in the digestive tract.

However, according to David Levitsky, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences and psychology at Cornell University, "You cleanse the colon and remove this nasty, brown, smelly stuff, and it looks like the colonic is working," but the idea of a toxic build up in the digestive tract is "a myth," says Levitsky.

To that, flushes disturb the colon environment by flushing our good bacteria that aid in digestion.

Dr. Don C. Rockey, chief of digestive and liver diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center says, "the colon is an ecologically balanced environment like the rain forest… disrupting that — like chopping away all the trees — is not a great idea."

Benefits of diet cleanses

On the plus side, while some cleanse diets are not very efficient, some are actually are actually healthy. For instance, Blatner says that "some foods do lose vitamins when cooked, the amount is insignificant, while some more nutritious when cooked."

Foods that contain alcohol, red meat and gluten maybe practically avoided for the sake of better health and weight loss.


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