When discussing nutrition and the human body, “detox” has become a buzzword. From juice cleanses to green juices and even drinking vinegar, there are so many ways to detox that it can be a little overwhelming. But is cleansing dangerous?
Last night was a great night.
We had a great New Years Dinner with the family on the beach.
Now often, what gets thought about by many as the new year hits, is starting things off fresh with new positive lifestyle changes. One of those things is often a cleanse.
Here is Yuri Elkaim talking about something to think about if you plan on doing a typical cleanse in the next few weeks.
Take it away, Yuri.
Here’s how I see it.
Rapid weight loss = rapid weight REGAIN + health problems!
And that’s exactly what you get with most cleanses on the market. Just go to your local health food store, and you’ll see shelves of pills and detox kits promising to clear your bowels, detoxify your liver, and help you drop several pounds without doing anything.
It’s no wonder cleansing has gotten a bad reputation.
Dangerous Cleansing Recalled
About a year ago, Health Canada issued a WARNING regarding cleansing dangerous products called the “Complete 7-Day Cleanse“.
This is still important even if you don’t live in the Great White North (aka Canada).
Here’s a snippet from the “health advisory” that was issued:
Health Canada advises consumers that the unauthorized product “Complete 7-Day Cleanse” is being recalled because it contains several active ingredients with a combined effect that may pose serious health risks that lead to dangerous cleansing. “Complete 7-Day Cleanse” is a multi-ingredient natural health product promoted for “cleansing” or removing toxins from the body.
According to package labeling, the product contains over 30 active ingredients, some having a diuretic (water pill) or laxative (stimulant and bulk-forming) effect. This combination of ingredients may increase the laxative or diuretic impact of the product and pose a risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
The Symptoms of Severe Dehydration
Symptoms of severe dehydration may involve an altered mental state and dizziness. Symptoms of moderate to severe electrolyte imbalance (an imbalance of salts in the body, such as potassium or sodium) may include muscle weakness or cramping, abnormal heartbeat, and difficulties breathing.
The product is available at retail outlets across Canada and over the Internet. The Canadian importer, Iovate Health Sciences International Inc., of Oakville, Ontario, has initiated a nationwide recall at the request of Health Canada.
These four paragraphs remind us that “quick fixes” don’t work and are dangerous!
And this is the precise reason that I don’t recommend any cleanses.
Other than supporting your body’s natural cleansing processes through food to avoid cleansing dangerous.
We all want the “solution in a bottle,” and that’s the lure of many of these “cleanse kits” that promise a squeaky clean colon or rapid weight loss after just a few days of ingesting their pills.
Too bad they don’t remind us of the nasty side effects or long-term consequences of using their fabricated potions.
Plus, they’ll never tell you the truth.
Nothing is more effective for achieving such goals – with long-lasting results – than simply cleaning up your diet and solving the root cause of the problem.
But It Gets EVEN Better…
On the label of this cleansing product is the phrase:
“From the makers of HYDROXYCUT!”
If you know anything about supplements, you’ll know that Hydroxycut is one of the WORST fat-burning supplements to have ever taken up shelf space at health food stores worldwide.
According to a 2009 paper in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, Hydroxycut is the most popular brand of weight-loss supplement, selling approximately 1 million units per year.
However, on May 1, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning after Hydroxycut products were linked to liver damage, rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of damaged muscle tissue), and at least one death.
The magical genie in a bottle will not give you the rapid weight loss or health results you’re after.
The only person that can do that is through the diet and lifestyle you make daily.
Hollywood’s Death Grip on Your Health
It doesn’t help that the shady weight loss techniques used by Hollywood celebrities – for instance, starving themselves or drinking spicy lemonade – for an upcoming role become accepted by the general population as the “next” BIG thing to try.
This was seen several years ago with the explosion of the Master Cleanse (i.e., “spicy lemonade”) after Beyonce hailed it as her saving grace in losing 20 lbs for her role in Dream Girls.
However, in a later appearance on Oprah, all she could talk about was her cravings for doughnuts and the fact that she regained the weight she had lost within just ten days of stopping her cleanse!
It’s no secret that people search for rapid weight loss rather than permanent and healthier ways of battling the bulge.
What is Rapid Weight Loss?
Rapid weight loss is the act of losing weight at an abnormal and alarming rate in a short period.
Any health care professional in their right mind usually advises 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week. But, if you weigh 400 lbs, you would probably lose quite a bit more. So it’s all relative.
Nonetheless, expecting to start the new year with a crazy fad diet or an herbal colon cleanse kit to lose weight is ridiculous and outright dangerous.
If you lose a lot of weight quickly (a la “Biggest Loser”) and replace proper nutrition with foreign herbal ingredients, you are setting yourself up for a health disaster.
But ask any “expert”; they’ll most likely tell you that…
Quick and easy isn’t always the best (or safest) way.
Sure it’s tempting, but it’s not safe or sustainable.
Here are a few problems associated with quick weight loss:
Reduced metabolic rate
Nature has a way of protecting the body against excessive weight loss. Aside from losing muscle mass, if your calorie count suddenly drops, your body will compensate by reducing your metabolic rate. This is also why people on crash diets immediately regain weight once they stop dieting – a slow metabolism + sudden surge of food = easy weight gain.
Let’s say you’re following an extreme weight loss or detox diet with few calories (i.e., the master cleanse). Where do you get your nutrients on such a program?
At the same time, using laxatives can increase your likelihood of dehydration since it constantly stimulates your colon to evacuate its contents, including a ton of water.
Do I even need to discuss the problems associated with malnutrition and dehydration? I didn’t think so.
Hair, Skin, and Nail Problems
Malnutrition leads to a lack of vitamins, minerals, and vital macronutrients, which results in fewer building blocks for your skin, hair, and nails. This can result in brittle or broken nails, dry scalp and hair, a loss of hair, and dry callous-like skin,
Diarrhea or Constipation
Attempting to lose weight too fast can lead to severe diarrhea or constipation, depending on your weight-loss tactics. Diarrhea is a concern because it causes people to lose a vast amount of water and electrolytes and evacuate nutrients too quickly to absorb them properly.
Constipation can become a serious concern as stuck stool can re-circulate toxins back into your body, foster unfriendly growth, cause weight gain, and put additional strain on your digestive system.
I want to discuss rapid weight loss in this post because most cleansing kits and detox diets promise it. But as we’ve seen, losing weight quickly is not a very desirable objective.
Instead, the pursuit of health through clean eating and regular activity (not herbal laxatives and lemonade diets) will always be safer and more sustainable.
I hope this has helped you think twice about how you go after your new year’s resolutions.
Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN