Doing a cleanse or detox has become a popular way to help remove toxins from the body and promote better health. Cleanses come in many forms, from juice fasts to elimination diets. While extreme cleanses aren’t recommended, there are some gentler cleanses you can try at home.
Why do a cleanse?
There are a few potential benefits to doing a cleanse:
- Remove toxins – A cleanse may help flush out toxins and promote better elimination.
- Rest the digestive system – Giving your body a break from digesting heavy foods for a few days may allow your gut to rebalance.
- Increase nutrient intake – Cleanses focused on healthy juices, smoothies, and light meals increase your vitamin and mineral consumption.
- Boost energy – Some people report feeling more energized after a cleanse.
- Improve skin – Cleanses may help remove skin impurities and improve complexion.
- Reset habits – Doing a cleanse can help you reevaluate your normal diet and set healthier eating habits going forward.
However, cleanses aren’t right for everyone and extreme cleanses should be avoided. Always talk to your doctor before attempting a cleanse, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Choosing the right cleanse
There are many different cleanse options to choose from. Consider the following when deciding which type of cleanse is best for you:
- Juice cleanse – Drink only fresh vegetable and fruit juices for 1-3 days.
- Smoothie cleanse – Blend and drink only plant-based smoothies 2-3 times per day for 3-5 days.
- Water fast – Drink only water for 12-24 hours. Not recommended for longer durations.
- Soup cleanse – Eat only homemade soups and broths for 3-5 days.
- Elimination diet – Avoid certain foods like dairy, gluten, meat, or processed foods for a set time period.
- Intermittent fasting – Alternate periods of fasting and eating in a regulated schedule.
Start with a gentle cleanse, especially if it’s your first time. You want something that reduces your calorie intake but doesn’t completely deprive your body. A juice, smoothie, or soup cleanse may be a good option. Extreme cleanses like long-term water fasting can be dangerous.
Preparing for your cleanse
Properly preparing for a cleanse can help you get the most benefits and make the adjustment easier on your body. Here are some tips:
- Talk to your doctor – Make sure a cleanse is safe for you, especially if you have any medical conditions or take medications.
- Stock up on produce – Shop for all the fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs you’ll need. Organic is best.
- Get supplements – Consider taking a probiotic, digestive enzymes, or psyllium husk to support detoxification.
- Drink extra water – Hydrate well in the days leading up to your cleanse.
- Cut out coffee – Slowly wean off caffeine to prevent withdrawals.
- Reduce heavy foods – Avoid fatty, sugary, salty, and processed foods a few days beforehand.
- Plan your schedule – Make sure you don’t have any major commitments or social events that may interfere.
- Rest and relax – Give your body a chance to deeply rest and rejuvenate during your cleanse.
Easing into your cleanse will help with the adjustment and set you up for success. Avoid abruptly shifting your diet or starting a harsh cleanse without preparation.
Sample cleanse schedule
To give you an idea of what a gentle 3-day juice cleanse might look like, here is a sample schedule:
|8 AM||Lemon water|
|9 AM||Green juice|
|1 PM||Vegetable juice|
|3 PM||Herbal tea|
|7 PM||Vegetable juice|
Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, and diluted lemon water in addition to your juices and smoothies. Listen to your body and rest as needed. You may experience some fatigue, headaches, or cravings as you adjust to fewer calories from solid foods.
Making your own fresh juices, smoothies, and soups allows you to control the ingredients. Here are some tasty cleanse recipe ideas:
- Apple spinach juice – Apples, spinach, cucumber, lemon
- Kale celery juice – Kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon
- Mean green juice – Kale, collard greens, celery, lemon, ginger, cucumber
- Watermelon strawberry juice – Watermelon, strawberries, lime
- Pineapple carrot juice – Pineapple, carrots, orange
- Berry orchard juice – Blueberries, apples, blackberries, raspberries
- Green goddess smoothie – Spinach, mango, banana, avocado, coconut water
- Pink smoothie – Strawberries, banana, almond milk, almond butter
- PB and J smoothie – Blueberries, banana, almond milk, peanut butter
Soups and broths
- Vegetable broth – Carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, parsley
- Tomato basil soup – Tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, vegetable broth
- Butternut squash soup – Butternut squash, onion, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth
Get creative with healthful ingredients and spices! Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne can help support detoxification.
Ending your cleanse
It’s important to slowly transition out of your cleanse over a day or two. Here are some tips for getting back to normal eating after you finish cleansing:
- Reintroduce foods slowly – Don’t overwhelm your digestive system by immediately going back to heavy meals. Start with broths, soups, and smoothies.
- Keep it light – Continue focusing on fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains in the days following your cleanse.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol – Keep drinking plenty of water and herbal tea.
- Pay attention to your body – Ease up if you feel tired, bloated, or have cramps or diarrhea.
- Take probiotics – These can help balance your gut microflora which may have changed during your cleanse.
- Consider smaller cleanses – You may choose to do a 1 or 2 day cleanse regularly to maintain your health.
Avoid jumping immediately back into your normal diet, unhealthy habits, or overindulging after restricting during your cleanse. Give your body time to readjust.
Is a cleanse right for you?
Cleanses aren’t for everyone. Consider the following before attempting one:
Talk to your healthcare provider to see if trying a cleanse is appropriate for you. Start slow, drink plenty of fluids, and focus on whole foods. Avoid prolonged fasting or severely limiting nutrients and calories.
Doing an occasional gentle cleanse with juices, smoothies, or light meals can be a safe way to give your digestion a reset and flood your body with nutrients. Make sure to ease into and out of your cleanse, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and consult your doctor before beginning. Focus on long-term diet improvements rather than extreme short-term cleanses for better health.