How to Avoid the Dangers of Cleanses

Cleanses have become a popular springtime activity for many. However, many online resources recommend "cleanses" that can be quite dangerous. Read this article to help recognize what to avoid.


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    Don't stop eating suddenly for extended times. For many people, this kind of abrupt change can be dangerous. Your blood sugar could get dangerously low for your brain and you could pass out, or you could experience electrolyte imbalances that can cause a heart arrhythmia.
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    Don’t do any cleanse that involves swallowing oil. These are often recommended for the "cleansing" of liver stones and gallstones, but what usually happens is that the oil is saponified (i.e., creates a type of soap) by bile in the gut and forms a reaction that looks like stones when you pass a bowel movement.[1] However, the real danger here is that the sudden influx of oil while fasting can cause the gallbladder to spasm, which could eject stones into the biliary system and create a painful medical emergency.
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    Avoid colon hydrotherapy/irrigation. Your bowels do not need to be “washed” out unless you have a specific medical need to do so. The ecology of the intestines is delicate, and can be upset by forcing water through them at high pressure. Plus, this type of procedure puts one at risk for perforations and other unintended consequences.[2]
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    Practice healthy cleansing habits. Now that you know what not to do, what can you do? At its core, doing a cleanse lessens the burden on your body so that it can better do its job to bind up, detoxify, and eliminate. Here are the most important points for doing a cleanse for your chosen period of time:
    • Avoid eating all junky foods. This includes foods with added sugars, fried foods, heavily processed foods that contain “non-food” ingredients, chemically processed foods.
    • Avoid eating lots of rich and meaty foods. These take more resources to process in your body. It is good to lighten the load occasionally.
    • Get plenty of rest and quality sleep at night. This is essential to body repairs and optimal function.
    • Avoid alcohol, and if you can handle it- all caffeine. Both of these things put a burden on your liver’s detoxification system, give it a break for a little while.
    • Eat small meals, avoid excess.
    • Drink plenty of filtered water to stay hydrated.
    • Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. These are particularly great at assisting the liver to do its work.
    • You may also try temporarily avoiding foods that many people can be sensitive to (not everyone)- especially dairy and gluten. Yes, there are herbs and nutrients that can help. Consult a licensed naturopathic doctor or master herbalist to help explain and guide you in their safe and proper use.
    • Practice dry skin brushing, which is a great way to stimulate good circulation of blood and lymph.

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Categories: Diet & Lifestyle