Why Body Cleanses Before Dieting Are Unnecessary

The idea of cleansing your body from the inside is appealing, but it's not as easily done as it may seem. Your liver, kidneys and lungs do a powerhouse job of cleansing and detoxing your body on a daily basis, and there is no way to speed this process up. If there were, no one would ever have a hangover, and food poisoning would be no more than five minutes of discomfort. While it's not possible to forcibly cleanse your body, though, there are things you can do to support your body as it does its job.

Stay well hydrated to help your body cleanse itself. (Image: Milan_Jovic/E+/GettyImages)

How Your Body's Natural Detoxing Systems Work

Your natural detoxification system works in two parts, explains Columbia University's Go Ask Alice! information website. The first level takes place in your intestines, where immune tissues neutralize some toxins and bacteria and prevent others from being absorbed by your body. The second phase takes place in your liver, which neutralizes toxins and sends them to be excreted.

While you can support your body's natural detox process by eating a nutrient-rich diet and staying hydrated, you cannot speed it up. And if you choose to do a water-only or severely restricted detox cleanse, you're actually depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to function at its best.

Why Cleanses Do Not Work

According to the University of Utah, detoxes or cleanses may work in the very short term, but they don't teach you how to make the kinds of healthy food choices you need to make to lose weight and maintain your weight loss in the long run. If you're relying on quick fixes to lose weight, you're not addressing the issue of why you gained weight in the first place, which usually means that the minute you go back to eating regular meals, the pounds will start to creep back on.

Expert Elizabeth Palermo at LiveScience agrees, reminding you that there is no magical juice that will speed up your body's natural processes. Rather than relying on the false promise of a detox before a diet, spend some time learning about proper nutrition, hydration, portion control and exercise.

Best Jump-Start Weight Loss Cleanse

Avoid commercially produced detox or cleansing kits, advise the experts at Science-Based Medicine, because they're a waste of money and can actually cause you harm by upsetting the delicate balance of bacteria in your digestive system. The absolute best way to cleanse before a diet is to leave your body alone — and focus on cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Remove all foods made with processed white flour, refined sugar and high sodium content.

Empty calories are not your friends when you're trying to lose weight. Replace junk foods with lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds for snacking and to add crunch to salads, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And don't forget heart-healthy fats such as olive oil. Make sure you drink 32 to 64 ounces of water every day, and find a type of exercise that you enjoy enough to stick with it.

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