Your liver, kidneys, skin and intestines naturally eliminate toxins and cleanse your body, and there’s no solid scientific evidence that a “cleanse” removes additional impurities. Many alternative health practitioners, however, advocate periodic cleansing to support your digestive organs or as a way to “reboot” your system, if your diet and lifestyle have veered toward the unhealthy. Speak with your doctor about whether a one-day cleanse would be safe for you, either as a single event or as a recurring practice.
Different Ways to Cleanse
There’s no single “correct” way to do a cleanse; the bottom line, however, is that it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Don’t equate a cleanse with a colonoscopy prep in which you drink a foul-tasting concoction that keeps you in the bathroom for much of the day. And it’s not like a fast for religious holidays, where you refrain from everything except water for 24 hours. Neither of these methods is recommended on a regular basis, because your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs and you will likely be tired, irritable and thinking about food a lot.
One popular, healthful way to cleanse is to do a juice fast, in which you drink only freshly juiced fruit and vegetables for one to three days. You’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals from juices, but considerably less of the two nutrients that increase the feelings of fullness – fiber and protein. Although you won’t be nutrient-deprived, you may feel hungry, so be careful not to overdo it when you return to normal eating.
Prepping for a One-Day Juice Cleanse
Changing from eating mostly unhealthy food to doing a one-day cleanse could spell disaster. You won’t magically “undo” the double cheeseburger with fries and cola you had for dinner the night before -- and if you return to your bad habits after cleansing -- you’ll accomplish very little.
Instead, prep for your cleanse by choosing a healthier diet. Give yourself a week or more to wean from unhealthy fare. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into your regimen, and cut back on or eliminate added sugars and refined grains. Choose whole, natural foods over processed and fast foods -- the foods you should choose are whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. Eating at home more often will facilitate the process.
You may also want to invest in a juicer. If you’re going to continue juicing, buying a juicer will be less expensive than relying on fresh juices from your local juice bar, which can run $5 or more for each glass of juice.
If you’re new to cleansing, try starting your fast when you don’t have a lot of commitments. For example, you could start at 7 p.m. on a Saturday evening and finish on Sunday at 7 p.m. Instead of a heavy meal, come out of your one-day cleanse gradually by having a simple dinner such as fruit, soup or a smoothie.
Juices for a One-Day Cleanse
Make sure you use fresh vegetables and fruits in your juices. Stacy Kennedy, a registered dietitian for Reboot With Joe, suggests an 80/20 ratio – 80 percent vegetables, such as greens, carrots and celery, to 20 percent fruits, such as apples and lemon, to help limit the amount of sugar in your juice. On her website, certified nutritionist Lauren Felts recommends one to two green vegetables such as spinach or cucumber; a sweeter ingredient for taste, such as carrots, beets, or green apple; an herb like parsley or mint; and a “superfood extra” such as ginger or turmeric root.
If you’re worried about not getting enough protein during your juice cleanse, you can add some chia seeds or protein powder, Kennedy says. But a one-day juice fast is unlikely to create a protein deficiency, she says.
Dr. Ben Kim, a chiropractor and fasting expert, suggests doing a one-day juice cleanse as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month, as a rest for your digestive system. Juicing, says Woodson Merrell, M.D., offers you a time-out from solid food so you can help repair your gut. It also gives your liver a break from having to neutralize so many toxins, especially if you juice with organic produce. The cleanse will rehydrate you, too, which is a plus if you’re accustomed to drinking too few fluids. And you may even lose a little weight – although you’ll mostly shed water, so a cleanse is a good way to start or to continue a healthy eating regimen that leads to natural weight loss over the long term.
A one-day cleanse may not be the best idea for everyone, though, warns Dr. Merrell. Pregnant women, people who are underweight or diabetic, or those with heart disease, high blood pressure or other chronic ailments, should check with their doctors before attempting a cleanse of any duration.