Its no secret that “cleanses” are the new “thing”.
I’m pretty sure just about everyone has either done a cleanse, contemplated doing a cleanse, or know someone who is currently on a cleanse.
I’m going to be honest: I have been intrigued, yet skeptical of these “cleanses” ever since hearing about them a few years ago. I just like food way too much to not eat for a few days, a week, or even a month! Over the past few years I know people who have done The Lemonade Diet, The Master Cleanse, a “juice diet”, a “liquid diet”, and there are several cleanses out there where you spend hundreds on dollars for these pre-made “juices” to be delivered to your door.
Last semester, for one of my Nutrition classes we were given a project:
pick a “fad” diet, note the “hype” and claims that the diet offers, and then do extensive research on the SCIENCE behind the claims to find out if its all its cracked up to be. and if its even healthy!
My group picked cleanses, specifically: The Master Cleanse.
What is The Master Cleanse?
“The Master Cleanse is a modified juice fast that permits no food. There are three parts to the regimen. Each morning one drinks a quart of water with 2 teaspoons of salt or a cup of herbal laxative tea. This is followed by six to twelve lemonade drinks during the day. Finally, a cup of herbal laxative tea is taken in the evening. The lemonade is made from purified or spring water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, organic maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper herbal pills can be substituted for the cayenne pepper in the lemonade. The alleged purpose is to “detoxify” the body and remove excess fat. The regimen is followed for a minimum of ten days.”
What does The Master Cleanse (and most cleanses) claim?
– Stop Cravings
– Break Bad Habits
– Increase Will Power
– Build Confidence
– Regain Energy
– Detoxify Your Body
– Rest Your System
– Eliminate Fat
– Improve Your Health
– Regain Balance in PH
– Positive Mental Attitude
– Promote Longevity
– Transition to Raw Food
sounds enticing, right? You mean, all I have to do is basically drink lemonade for [at least] 10 days and I can achieve all of these benefits!?!?
No wonder so many people begin these “cleanses” blindly, without doing any research on them. The benefits sounds too good to be true!
and guess what?!? they are.
So now, lets look at what health professionals and doctors are saying about these cleanses. Keep in mind, these are DOCTORS and HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, you know… people who are actually educated and knowledgeable about what is healthy and necessary for our bodies.
Glenn D. Braunstein, MD, the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, says:
“Diets like the Master Cleanse are stressful on your body and cause nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, difficulty concentrating and other problems….The colon cleans itself by shedding old cells about every three days, making colon cleansing unnecessary.”
Pamela Peeke, MD, the medical correspondent for the Discovery Health Channel says:
“Flushes and cleanses, like the Master Cleanse has no scientific basis and are ‘pure nonsense’. Cleansing your body of toxins is unnecessary, because you body has the ability to rid itself of toxins with the kidneys, liver, and immune system.”
Samuel Klein, MD, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the medical school of Washington University in St Louis, says:
“There is no evidence that diets like the Master Cleanse remove toxins from your body or provide you with any health benefits. … your body removes toxins naturally.” He also warns that “fasting and juice cleanses can deplete muscle tissue, which can reduce the size and function of your heart, kidneys, and liver. “
John Ellis, MD, says:
“Master Cleanse dieters will experience the unfortunate loss of muscle due to rapid weight loss…. After the diet, when you re-gain the weight you’ll end up with more fat than you started with AND less muscle.”
Dr. Michael Picco, a consultant on gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic was asked a series of questions regarding the Master Cleanse in a CNN.com article called “Mayo Doctor Is No Fan Of Cleanses”
, here are his answers:
Do cleanses help you lose weight quickly?
“Any weight loss you get is not real. It’s due to loss of fluid and waste and it is potentially harmful since it is not done with the proper well-balanced diet and exercise.”
Do cleanses have any real benefits?
“No. The whole basis to this cleansing business is people say it can help things like the immune system, fatigue, and depression and it can clean the toxins out of the colon and it can aid in losing weight. There is really no evidence to that at all. Sometimes those cleanses could actually be quite harmful, too.”
Is there any upside to a cleanse?
“There is really no good evidence based upon any good research that cleanses make a difference. The FDA doesn’t regulate these [cleansing] products because they are considered a part of the supplements category.”
How can cleansing be harmful?
“Cleansing can make existing conditions, like hemorrhoids, worse and can increase dehydration, malnutrition, and fatigue.”
Is there ever a time when the color needs to be cleansed?
“There is no need to cleanse the colon; the colon does its own job cleansing bacteria. There are billions of bacteria in the colon, and they work in a symbiotic way to help with various different colon functions. The colon does a good job of changing its lining. The colon works quite well and does not a cleanse to rid itself of any toxins.”
The bottom line on cleanses?
“The bottom line is that there isn’t any evidence that these work. The people claiming they do have evidence that it works are NOT correct. They can make these claims simply because these cleanses are not regulated. I think people need to know this before they believe these claims; they need to know there is a downside as well.”
She went on to say “people go on fasts, yo-yo diets, detox programs, and ‘cleanses’ without realizing that there are serious consequences to weight loss and nutrient restriction.” And many of these “Master Cleansers unwittingly end up harming their health, and possibly their heart.
Bacon says that “there is absolutely no benefit to fasting or detoxing… extreme diets are simply bad for your and they don’t work.”
In the same health.com article, Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City opposes crash diets; which is defined as consuming less than 1200 calories per day. He is also against detox plans like the Master Cleanse. Rosenfeld says “low calorie regimens are based on the false theory that the body needs help eliminating waste”. He says that “rapid weight loss (a desirable side effect of these diets) can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients.”
Dr Rosenfeld says “A crash diet one wont hurt your heart… but crash dieting repeatedly increases your risk of heart attacks.”
The article goes on to quote Lona Sandon, a Dallas Dietician and spokesperson for the American Heart Association that in addition to “Vitamin A deficiencies, muscle breakdown and blood-sugar problems…. A person can actually weaken their body’s ability to fight infections and inflammation”.
Dr Nasir Moloo, a gastroenterologist with Capital Gastroenterology Consultants Medical Group in Sacramento, CA says that “there is no evidence that these types of diets are necessary or helpful.”
Sandon, the Dallas Dietician also says that “by attempting to flush out the ‘bad stuff’ from our intestines you’re also flushing out the good bacteria that keep the intestines healthy”.
Susan Moores, a Registered Dietician, nutrition consultant, and another spokesperson for the American Heart Association says, “The side effects of prolonged, severe calorie restriction can include headache, fatigue, irritability, aches and pains. While believers claim they feel lighter and more energetic, studies on starvation show that the longer you fast, the more lethargic and less focused you become. Because most of these diets (such as The Master Cleanse) contain very little protein, it can be difficult for the body to rebuild lost muscle tissue.”
In this article, Dr Zimney breaks down the components of The Master Cleanse diet. He explains that the diet is water, “which is essential for life, but is of no nutritional value.”
The next major component is Maple Syrup, which is “the sole source of calories in the diet and prevents you from starving at a faster rate than if it were not included.”
Then, you add lemons. Dr. Zimney asks “what does a lemon contain that makes it so important? The answer is NOTHING!”.
He says that The Master Cleanse drink is just a form of lemonade made with Maple Syrup instead of plain sugar.
And then, lastly, comes the cayenne pepper. That Dr Zimney says only serves the purpose of “irritating the lining of the GI tract to potentially cause diarrhea.”
Dr. Zimney ends his article with this quote:
“In summary, the Master Cleanse program is basically a way to starve yourself, with just enough sugar to keep you going for a few days. The lemon juice and cayenne pepper add nothing.
If you don’t eat for a few weeks, yes- you’ll lose weight.
And if you don’t eat for a few months? you’ll die. “
I think our research speaks for itself.
I would HIGHLY recommend NOT jumping on the uneducated bandwagon and doing these non-sense cleanses. They are NOT healthy and, in actuality, can be extremely dangerous to your long-term health.
If you want to lose weight, its really rather simple: eat more fruits & veggies, eat more whole grains, reduce your intake of saturated fats, sweets and processed foods, drink more water, and EXERCISE!
Be educated America, stop believing everything you hear.
and…. at the risk of sounding cliche…. if it sounds too good to be true: it probably is!