Do you often get tired or feel like you have "brain fog"? Do you have skin blemishes you can’t seem to get rid of? Or maybe you just feel bloated or constipated now and then?
When you eat sugar, gluten, meat, dairy, and other foods that aren’t good for you, your body lets you know with bloating, constipation, bad skin, or other issues. But food isn’t the only issue. From the minute you open your eyes in the morning to get ready for work, our modern world is awash in toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and allergens like mold.[1, 2]
Did you know that you can reverse or improve some of the damage caused by toxins and poor food choices by doing a detox or cleanse? If you’ve never done a cleanse before, read on.
7 Reasons To Do a Cleanse
Maybe you’ve heard about cleansing or detoxing, but don’t know if it would help. Here are some reasons to cleanse! Cleansing or detoxification is a time-tested way to start anew and kick-start healthy habits. Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios?
1. I Can't Seem to Lose Weight!
Modern-day fitness gurus want you to believe that the key to losing weight is a formula of calories in and calories out — with some exercise thrown in for good measure. But eating less and working out isn’t always enough.
Detoxification can get rid of toxins that hold you back from reaching your ideal weight. Removing pollutants from your diet, even temporarily, not only reduces body fat and waist circumference, but also promotes normal cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood glucose levels!
Cleansing, sometimes known as a detox diet or detoxification, can reduce cravings for sweet foods, and we all know that excessive sugar leads to weight gain. Fewer sweets can drop weight in and of itself! The even better news? Cleansing for even a short period of time can result in continued weight loss a couple of weeks later.
Cleansing is also an excellent starting point for changing how you eat. Think of a cleanse as something that launches you into a healthy lifestyle with better eating patterns!
2. I'm Tired All the Time
Do you dread the sound of the alarm clock every morning? Many of us work every day with little to no energy, feeling sluggish and exhausted — but can’t figure out why.
"My sleep is better," says Debi. "Before, I was waking up several times at night and was feeling sluggish in the afternoon, so I craved sugar as a pick-me-up. Now, without sugar, I feel rested all the time and don't get that afternoon slump."
It's not just a sugar detox that will bring you more energy. Nearly any type of cleanse will have you removing harmful toxins and food choices, bringing you more energy — though you may experience a "healing crisis" for the first days of the cleanse itself.
3. I Feel Bloated & Constipated
Digestive issues like bloating, constipation, gas, or diarrhea signal that something commands your attention. A detox is like hitting the reset button for your gut. Did you know that a cleanse can also clear out accumulated fecal matter in your large intestine (colon)?
Fruit and fruit juice cleanses, in particular, can improve the composition of the gut microbiota — the balance of good versus harmful microbes living in the gut. Your gut microbiota influences not only digestion, but also mood, skin health, and the immune system.[6, 7]
Because any good cleanse involves eliminating unhealthy dietary choices — including soy, gluten, meat, dairy — it gives your digestive system a break. When you reintroduce foods (ideally one by one), you can identify which ones cause the digestive issues that you want to avoid.
4. I Want to Look & Feel Younger
When you remove toxins that have taken up residence in your body, you’ll start to notice a difference in your skin and overall demeanor. Eating more organic fruits and vegetables during your cleanse will boost your antioxidant intake, eliminating damage from free radicals and reducing inflammation.
Debi discovered that the radiance from her younger years returned after a detox.
"My skin was better and started to glow! My skin was also more supple. My face and hands were no longer puffy. I even noticed that the black circles under my eyes disappeared," Debi says.
Some of this "glow" may come from the balancing of our body systems. For example, cleanses promote normal blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides, which can’t help but show on the outside!
5. My Brain Feels Foggy
Have you ever felt like your brain is in a dense fog that won’t let you concentrate or remember things? Some days, even simple tasks like writing a shopping list may feel overwhelming.
This so-called brain fog can come not only from hormones, obesity, and stress, but also exposure to toxins (and stress acts as a toxin!).[9, 10] Toxins can enter your body, including your brain, causing inflammation. If you’re not eating the right foods, you’re not giving yourself the nutrients it requires to function at its best.
"The biggest thing I noticed was an improvement in my ability to concentrate throughout the day," says Courtney K., a director of operations in Austin, Texas. "With my typical diet, I would have spikes of being laser-focused, then was unable to focus on anything. Since the detox, my ability to concentrate has been far more consistent."
"I've also noticed better memory retention," she adds. "Before the detox, I had a terrible short-term memory. Now, I'm more likely to remember things without having to take extensive notes."
6. My Allergies & Runny Nose Won’t Stop
The toxins and chemicals in the air around you can irritate the lining of your nose and make you reach for a box of tissues all the time.
There is also a connection between your gut and your sinuses. A disturbance in your gut microbiota may affect your sinuses and cause a runny nose. Eating dairy, which I don’t recommend, can increase mucous production and even the incidence of asthma.
"I used to have congestion related to seasonal allergies and food. I used to take an allergy pill every day. I would get headaches sometimes with the congestion," says Shannon J. of Sarasota, Florida, who saw big changes after a seven-day body cleanse.
"It definitely helped reduce congestion and morning mucus for me," she adds. "The cleanse helped me figure out my congestion happened when I ate gluten. My symptoms went away after the cleanse, and my morning congestion was gone."
7. I Feel Stressed All the Time
Do you get anxious while waiting in line or when driving? Do you have stomach aches or recurring headaches? These can be signs that you experience too much daily stress. Stress increases your risk of getting sick and causes a variety of other issues, such as headaches, digestive concerns, anger, and more.
Sometimes you feel stress because you’re not giving your body the best food for optimal health. But sometimes toxins in the environment can build up, manifesting in headaches or other issues.
A detox not only eliminates harmful substances — bad food choices and toxins — that make you feel poorly, but it gives you a chance to start over. Cutting out alcohol during cleanses is also important.
Many people use fasting and cleansing as a spiritual time, or a time to reflect on their life and priorities. During any cleanse, I recommend engaging in supportive therapies, such as massage, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation. These will also bring more calm to your life.
What Is the Best Cleanse?
If you’ve never cleansed before and are looking for something simple, I recommend starting with the Body Cleansing Diet. This is simply a way to remove dairy, meat, gluten-containing grains, and processed products from your diet while introducing more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds into your meal plans. You will also cut back on processed foods, opting for those in a more natural state.
If you’re ready for something more regimented, you can try Global Healing’s Colon Cleanse Program™. This 6-day program involves following the Body Cleansing Diet — or for the more advanced all-fruit diet — while taking Oxy-Powder®, an oxygen-based intestinal cleanser and Latero-Flora™, a single-strain probiotic that purges harmful organisms from the gut.
Points to Remember
Our world is filled with chemicals and toxins that affect your body. The food you eat can make things worse. Have you ever wondered if a cleanse is right for you, but not know what it can do for you?
A cleanse might help if you feel tired or stressed a lot, experience occasional but frustrating constipation, bloating, or other digestive complaints, can’t seem to lose weight, or have brain fog. A cleanse can give your skin a healthy glow, even making you appear younger!
By eliminating dietary foods that commonly trigger gut reactions, like gluten, dairy, meat, and artificial preservatives, you create a healthier ecosystem in your gut in a short time. This can improve your digestion, provide more energy, and bring you better sleep.
- Chapter 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1 Oct. 2009. Accessed 17 Jan. 2019.
- Disinfection With Chlorine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 22 Jun. 2015. Accessed 17 Jan. 2019.
- Kim JA, et al. Effects of the dietary detoxification program on serum γ-glutamyltransferase, anthropometric data and metabolic biomarkers in adults. J Lifestyle Med. 2016;6(2):49-57.
- Davisson L, et al. "Cleanse" detoxification diet program in Appalachia: Participant characteristics and perceived health effects. J Complement Integr Med. 2019 Sep 17.
- Henning SM, et al. Health benefit of vegetable/fruit juice-based diet: role of microbiome. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):2167.
- Clapp M, et al. Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: the gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017;7(4):987.
- Lee SY, et al. Microbiome in the gut-skin axis in atopic dermatitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018;10(4):354-362.
- Theoharides TC, et al. Brain "fog," inflammation and obesity: key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin. Front Neurosci. 2015;9:225.
- Franke HA. Toxic stress: effects, prevention and treatment. Children (Basel). 2014;1(3):390-402.
- Schiavone S, et al. Severe life stress and oxidative stress in the brain: from animal models to human pathology. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013;18(12):1475-1490.
- Obrenovich MEM. Leaky gut, leaky brain? Microorganisms. 2018;6(4):107.
- Groneberg DA, et al. Toxic rhinitis-induced changes of human nasal mucosa innervation. Toxicol Pathol. 2003 May-Jun;31(3):326-331.
- Darweesh M. PWE-240 relationship between irritable bowel syndrome and chronic rhinosinusitis: a case control study. Gut. 2015;64(Suppl 1):A317.2-A318.
- Kogan M, et al. Chronic rhinosinusitis and irritable bowel syndrome: a case report. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016;15(3):44-54.
- Bartley J, et al. Does milk increase mucus production? Med Hypotheses. 2010 Apr;74(4):732-734.
- Feeling Stressed? Stress Relief Might Help Your Health. National Institutes of Health (NIH): News in Health. Dec. 2014. Accessed 17 Jan. 2019.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.