I've had a few questions about my thoughts on cleanses so I thought I'd share what I know with you. I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the topic as well.
For those of you who haven't heard of the ever-popular cleanses, detox diets, and "body flushing" regimens here is a quick description. Basically it is a fasting diet that can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The claim is that this process will rid the body of accumulated harmful substances that exert a negative effect on individual health. By omitting food, and living on a diet made up mostly of water, other liquids, lemons, and in some cases raw food, the individual flushes the toxins out of their body. Those who successfully complete the cleanse claim to have seen effects such as rapid weight loss, clearer skin, and increased energy. Sounds too good to be true? Well, in my opinion it might be. Now, let me back my opinion up by letting you know I have been studying journals and articles published on the subject to try and get the best possible answer to this question. I realize that everyone has different view points and thoughts about the subject, but here is mine :)
When going on this prolonged fast you will most likely lose weight, but it is mostly water weight. As soon as you start eating normally again your body will gain that water weight back, putting you right back where you started. Fasting for a few days can be ok, but fasting for too long can be harmful to your body. It can deplete muscle tissue, including your heart muscle, and it can reduce the size and functioning of organs like the kidney and liver. Some nutritionists even say that prolonged fasts can be counterproductive to those trying to lose weight due to the fact that it may slow your metabolism down.
Some may not cleanse to lose weight, but to rid their body of "toxins." In response to this I would say don't underestimate the body. Its more miraculous than you may realize. The body already has multiple systems in place -- including the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract -- that do a perfectly good job of eliminating toxins from the body within hours of consumption. Increase your fiber intake, and you'll be good to go.
Lastly, many of these fasts reduce you down to eating mainly raw foods and a lot of water. Yes...of course...if you eliminate all the crap that you eat from your diet and start eating healthy foods close to their natural form you will lose weight. This is how you are supposed to be eating anyways, fancy that.
I realize there are people that swear by fasts, but I am not one of them. Some good old fashioned exercise, fiber, and healthy foods will get you feeling your best. And you won't even need to starve yourself.