There are many different types of cleanses, and some are better than others, depending on what your purpose for doing the cleanse is. A cleanse, sometimes referred to as a “detox”, is essentially a way of removing toxins from your system and giving your body a break. Doing a cleanse for a few days could give your digestive system a break, kick-start weight loss, reduce bloating, and potentially even help with issues such as brain fog. Many people find that cleanses, from cold-pressed juice cleanses to colon cleanses, provide various health benefits.
While the nature of your cleanse and what you have to do during it will differ according to your goals, most types of cleanses involve either not eating solid food for a number of days, or modifying your intake of food. This allows you to more easily absorb vitamins and nutrients (through juices), as well as clear out toxins.
While the concept of not eating food for 3, 5, or even 7 days might sound terrifying, it is completely possible. The human body can survive up to 21 days without food.
In fact, in the early days of humanity, when we were still hunters and gatherers, many people often went without food for days at a time. Therefore, from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense why we can go without food for days.
The key to success is making sure you do the right type of cleanse for your specific needs.
Cleansing and Detoxing: What is a Cleanse?
A variety of detox diets, cleanses, and similar programs have commonly been suggested as powerful ways to remove toxins from the body and promote good health. With a “cleanse”, you eliminate certain substances from your diet, and follow specific practices to help your body detox.
Most types of cleanses include:
- Fasting (not eating food)
- Drinking juices and water only
- Eating only specific foods for a period of time, such as raw vegetables
- Using dietary supplements or herbs
- Drinking herbal tea
- Using enemas (in the case of colon cleansing)
- Using a sauna (to sweat out toxins)
Some cleanses are safer than others, which is why it’s so important for anyone considering a cleanse to know their current health status, and be aware of any risks. It’s also worth doing your research into the different types of cleanses available and what their pros and cons may be.
Do Cleanses Work?
There have only been a small number of studies into cleansing and detoxification. Additionally, because different variations of many popular cleanses appear frequently, it’s difficult to build up a strong body of evidence about any particular diet or “detox”.
Certain reports indicate there may be some preliminary evidence to suggest certain detox diets can improve liver detoxification and assist with removing toxins from the body.
There are also various celebrities and influencers on the web today who swear by the benefits they’ve experienced from detox diets and cleanses. However, a lack of compelling evidence in either direction means the best thing you can do is consider your own specific needs.
Make sure you speak to your doctor before starting a cleanse, particularly if you have certain conditions which might be exacerbated by such a process, including diabetes or anemia.
5 Types of Cleanses and Their Pros and Cons
As mentioned above, there are various different types of cleanses out there, and each come with specific claims about what they can potentially do to benefit your body.
While all cleanses (and the people doing them) are different, below are some quick insights into the pros and cons of different types of cleanses, and how they work.
1. The Parasite Cleanse
The parasite cleanse has become an increasingly popular choice for many as a result of TikTok and Instagram trends, where influencers highlight the benefit of this kind of detox.
The parasite cleanse responds to the idea that parasites such as roundworms, pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and ropeworms are more common than we’d think. While intestinal parasites aren’t very common in the US, it is entirely possible for some people to have a parasite causing symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue – without being aware of it.
It’s certainly possible to have worms without knowing.
How to do a Parasite Cleanse
A parasite cleanse is one of the longer cleanses. To perform a parasite cleanse, you’ll need to remove all sources of energy that parasites can live on. This means eating absolutely no processed foods, grains, sugars, or carbohydrates for five to six weeks. You’ll also need to remove alcohol from your diet completely, and avoid fruit.
Some experts recommend adding certain new ingredients to your diet to assist with the cleanse too, such as garlic and cinnamon. Since parasites can leave eggs in your body, you can go on and off a parasite cleanse multiple times during your life.
Pros and Cons of Parasite Cleanses
Drastically changing your diet with a parasite cleanse can be a risky change if you have pre-existing illnesses or underlying health conditions. Some people say these cleanses help improve their energy levels and help them manage their weight.
Most people only perform a parasite cleanse if they’re absolutely sure they have a parasite and are otherwise healthy. However, some people will do this type of cleanse ‘just in case’, since it’s possible to have worms and not be aware of it.
2. Colon Cleanse
Colon cleanses are a little more common than some other types of cleanses. They’re commonly used to help with constipation, bowel problems, and IBS. In many cases, colon cleanses are performed by a professional using enemas to clean out the colon.
However, there are strategies available for those who want to do a colon cleanse themselves. It’s best to speak to a doctor before beginning a colon cleanse.
How to do a Colon Cleanse
For a colon cleanse, start by talking to your doctor and getting their advice on the best plan for your specific needs. There are different methods of colon cleansing available, but the most common principles used in all of them include:
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and eating lots of high-moisture produce (such as cucumbers).
- Drinking a glass of lukewarm water mixed with salt each day and night.
- Eat a diet high in fiber to improve your colon health and gut bacteria.
- Drink lots of cold-pressed juices to increase your vitamin intake.
- Eat a variety of foods with resistant starches, such as rice and legumes.
- Use enemas to clean out the colon when necessary.
Pros and Cons of Colon Cleanses
Many people believe that through colon cleansing, you can achieve a number of benefits by removing toxins and waste from your digestive system. People believe you can lose weight this way, improve your digestion, and even boost energy levels. One study even showed an improvement in gastrointestinal systems for people with IBS after a colon cleanse.
However, colon cleanses can also be dangerous. If you go to the bathroom too much, you risk dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance. You can also have issues with bowel perforation if you’re not careful.
3. Liver Cleanse
The liver cleanse is one of the few cleanses available today focusing specifically on a certain organ and its functions within your body. A liver cleanse has become a more popular trend over recent years, as people recognize the benefits of a healthy liver for cleaning the blood and removing toxins.
Liver cleansing involves helping the organ to work as efficiently as possible, by removing some of the pressure placed on your liver by modern diets that are high in salt and carbohydrates.
How to do a Liver Cleanse
Performing a liver cleanse will often require individuals to take a number of important steps each day. For instance, you’ll usually need to drink a lot more water, as well as expose yourself to more detoxifying ingredients such as lemon and ginger.
For at least 3 days of your detox, you’ll need to eat raw foods only, and on the last three days, some people recommend doing a juice fast, where you consume nothing but juice to help clean the liver. Some substances are particularly highly recommended for a liver cleanse, such as apple, cucumber, and turmeric, which is an anti-inflammatory.
Pros and Cons of Liver Cleanses
Liver cleanses are one of the safer cleanses you can consider if you want to improve your health. You don’t necessarily need to avoid food entirely to use one of these cleanses, but you will need to remove processed foods from your diet.
A liver cleanse can help to protect you against various forms of liver disease, and improve your body’s ability to manage toxins on a wider scale. You can essentially “reset” your liver and give it a much needed boost. Some of the strategies used in a liver cleanse can also help you lose weight, such as cutting fatty and processed foods.
4. The Master Cleanse
Known to some as the “lemonade diet”, the master cleanse was designed as a tool to help people lose weight as quickly as possible. One of the most popular cleanses in pop culture, the Master Cleanse has been championed by everyone from Demi Moore to Beyonce.
Fans of the Master Cleanse say it rids the body of impurities and helps you to lose weight by taking advantage of “fasting”, to lower your calorie intake.
How To Do a Master Cleanse
The Master Cleanse actually dates back to a book published in 1940, which involved mixing lemonade with water, cayenne pepper and organic maple syrup. This is the only calorie-containing item you drink throughout a period of 10 days.
Cayenne pepper is commonly known to be a way to boost your metabolism, while maple syrup is a natural sugar which, even in small amounts, gives your body just enough energy to make it through the day. Lemons contain antioxidants, so they help to flush toxins out of your system.
You’ll also drink saltwater in the morning and take a laxative tea at night to help move everything through your system. For some people who really want to reset and shed weight aggressively, there is an option to extend a fast for up to 40 days – but it’s not considered safe to be in fasting mode for that long.
Pros and Cons of the Master Cleanse
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting you can lose weight quickly using the master cleanse. Some people also believe stopping eating for a while can help you to do a “mental reset” associated with your diet, and change some of the decisions you make about food.
One study also found that plenty of vitamin C can help to improve glucose metabolism and liver performance in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cleanse to get the benefits.
However, this form of cleansing doesn’t really provide a sustainable weight management strategy. There’s a high chance you could simply gain the weight you lose back after you’re finished fasting.
5. Juice Cleanse
The juice cleanse is probably one of the better-known kinds of detox diets available right now, and it’s also one of the more versatile types of cleanses. Essentially, the juice cleanse involves removing whole foods from your diet, replacing them with cold-pressed juices for a specific amount of time. This will help reset your body and allow you to remove toxins while absorbing more nutrients.
You can perform a juice cleanse for 3, 5, or 7 days, but the most common option is the 7-day juice cleanse. During this 7-day cleanse, there are a number of stages.
How to do a Juice cleanse
A 7-day cleanse plan will break your cleansing process down into a small preparation stage, a cleansing stage, and a transition back to your regular diet.
- Day 1: Gradually eliminate dairy, coffee, sugar, meat, alcohol, wheat, and nicotine from your diet, focusing on getting plenty of fresh water.
- Day 2: Continue eliminating the foods listed above, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Day 3: Consume minimal amounts of any restricted foods and increase your intake of fluids, vegetables, and fruits even further.
- Day 4: Drink 8 ounces of vegetable juice, 8 ounces of smoothie with almond milk, apples, and berries, 8 ounces of carrot, beet and apple juice, 8 ounces of green vegetable juice, and 8 ounces of vegetable broth.
- Day 5: Drink 8 ounces of vegetable juice, 8 ounces of smoothie with coconut, 8 ounces of green vegetable juice, and 8 ounces of cucumber, ginger, and apple juice. You can also eat a small salt with no dressing, and a small portion of celery and carrots.
- Day 6: Gradually begin adding foods into your diet, focusing on whole produce.
- Day 7: Gradually add calories and restricted foods.
Pros and Cons of the Juice cleanse
According to fans of juice cleanses, this process can significantly improve your health, boost immunity, provide more mental clarity, increase energy and generate a healthier gut microbiome. One study found subjects reported better well-being in general, after 3 days.
A juice cleanse can improve your energy by removing toxins from your system and minimizes the risk of dehydration by increasing the amount of liquids you consume. However, it can promote unhealthy eating habits if you get into a routine of cutting out food. Low blood sugar is a common side effect, and there’s a small risk that you could even end up with kidney stones, caused by dark leafy greens high in oxalate.
Should You Do a Cleanse?
There are various different types of cleanses available, each capable of delivering different benefits, outcomes and results. Many of the people who participate in these cleanses believe they are beneficial for a range of outcomes, including promoting better overall wellness and immunity.
However, there are some risks with cleanses, such as reducing your intake of calories to a point where you may feel unwell. It’s important to seek out advice from your doctor before trying one.