This time of year, cleanses are a hot topic. We talked to our experts about some of the most popular ones and you may be surprised to hear the results!

Cleanses Infographic

Master Cleanse

During a master cleanse, weight loss can be expected, but it’s mostly water weight. It is likely that the weight will be gained back since it’s water, not fat.

Risks and side effects of the master cleanse include:

  • Dehydration
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Aches
  • Pains
  • Nausea and vomiting

These are often described as detox symptoms, but there is no scientific evidence that shows that these cleanses actually help rid the body of toxins. The metabolism can slow down because calories consumed are inadequate, which can actually cause a person to gain even more weight post-cleanse.

Colon Cleanse

Avoid colon cleanses. The digestive system does this on its own.

Risks and side effects of colon cleanses include:

  • Dehydration
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bowel perforation
  • Risk of infection
  • Loss of electrolytes
  • Kidney or liver failure and death (in some extreme cases)

Pill or Drink-based Detox Cleanses

These cleanses have the same risks and side effects as above and the metabolism can slow down if adequate calories are not consumed.

Juice Cleanse

It’s sometimes nice to get a jump start on a healthy eating style. This type of cleanse is not as risky, as long as it’s only done for a few days. Our experts recommend blending vs. juicing some of the fruits and vegetables in order to keep fiber in the diet and to stay hydrated.

Replace one or two meals with juice blends, which should include ingredients such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and avocado. It’s important to eat 1-2 balanced meals as well as snacks. By doing this, your metabolism should not be altered and weight loss can often be maintained. But beware – just juicing alone can rid the body of fiber and adequate calories resulting in weight loss that will not be maintained.

For all cleanses

There is no scientific evidence proving that cleanses help rid the body of toxins. Cleanses also run the risk of disturbing the good bacteria in our gut, allowing bad bacteria to move in and cause disease.

Research also shows that the body does not need help detoxing itself. As long as our livers and kidneys are healthy and functioning, they do that job for the body. Cleanses and detoxes do not help the body eliminate toxins any faster or more effectively.

A better alternative is to eat a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods and drink an adequate amount of water. Make sure to consume adequate calories from a variety of food sources. Do not eliminate food groups unless you have a medical reason to do so. Avoid processed foods as much as possible and buy organic when you can. Cleaning your produce with white vinegar and water will help to limit exposure to pesticides.

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Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.