Despite their popularity, cleanses are not always the most healthy option. Experts have weighed in on their harmful effects, and studies have underscored that cleanses and detoxes, such as the baking soda detox, often lack efficacy.
The Skinny on Cleanses
Detoxes and cleanses seem to be all the rage these days. A smattering of concoctions and food combinations characterized as cleanses have been gaining traction on the internet. Fad detoxes have even garnered celebrity endorsements.
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But is there evidence that they actually relieve the body of harmful toxins? And is there any scientific backing behind their health benefits?
According to Mayo Clinic, the simple answer is: No, there are no known benefits to detox diets. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom calls detox diets "irrational and unscientific." Some people have claimed to feel better after "cleansing," though Mayo Clinic suspects this could be due to cutting out highly processed foods while on the diet.
Fad cleanses do not provide a long-term solution for weight loss. Rather, sticking to a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean sources of protein, will induce lasting results.
Baking Soda Detox
There's very little evidence indicating the weight loss benefits of a baking soda cleanse or a baking soda detox. However, a couple of studies point to baking soda as a way to enhance athletic performance.
One small March 2013 study in the European Journal of Physiology with only 12 resistance-trained male participants, found that when athletes consumed baking soda, 60 minutes prior to a lower-body strength training session, they could complete more repetitions with less muscle fatigue than those who consumed the placebo.
In another small study of 21 well-trained cyclists, published in the December 2014 issue of PLOS One, the participants who ingested baking soda 60 minutes before exercise showed improved cycling performance.
That said, baking soda should not be consumed in large doses. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that baking soda, rather than making athletes perform better, can in fact render them unable to perform. You should consider the dangers of drinking baking soda before ingesting it in any situation.
Read more: 10-Day Cleansing Diet
Lemon and Weight Loss Alternatives
Although a lemon juice cleanse alone would not provide the necessary supplementation for a healthy diet, ingesting lemon, especially in water, does have benefits. According to the Cleveland Clinic, lemon water can:
- Aid in digestion.
- Supply a good dose of vitamin C.
- Provide potassium.
Moreover, lemon water helps with weight loss in the sense that it can replace sugary alternatives, such as orange juice. The Better Health Channel of Victoria, Australia, recommends other healthy weight loss dieting alternatives to cleanses, including:
- Avoiding "yo-yo" diets or crash diets that will have a detrimental long-term effect.
- Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.
- Cutting down on alcohol and saturated fats and replacing sugary drinks with water.
- Eating a large variety of food from all the food groups.
The NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has also weighed in on ways to effectively and healthily shed pounds. They advise changing cues that may trigger undesired eating. For example, if you often overeat with a specific friend, you may want to consider meeting in a nonfood setting.
- Better Health Channel: "Weight Loss - A Healthy Approach"
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: "Sodium Bicarbonate Supplementation Improves Hypertrophy-Type Resistance Exercise Performance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Do Detox Diets Offer Any Health Benefits?"
- PLOS One: "Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate on High-Intensity Endurance Performance in Cyclists: A Double-Blind, Randomized Cross-Over Trial"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Baking Soda Overdose"
- Cleveland Clinic: "7 Reasons to Start Your Day With Lemon Water"
- NIH: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: "Guide to Behavior Change"
- National Health Service: "The Truth About Detox Diets"
- Adam.com: Sodium Bicarbonate
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.