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How long does cleanse last?

A cleanse, also known as a detox, is a popular health and wellness practice that aims to remove toxins from the body. Cleanses typically last from 3 to 30 days and involve restricting certain foods, drinks, and habits while ingesting detox drinks, juices, supplements or herbs. The goal is to give the digestive system a break while flooding the body with nutrients to optimize health.

Types of Cleanses

There are many different types of cleanses, each with their own duration:

Juice Cleanse

A juice cleanse involves only consuming fruit and vegetable juices for a period of time. The average juice cleanse lasts between 3-7 days. Anything longer than 7 days requires medical supervision.

Length Description
1-2 days A weekend cleanse to reset digestion.
3 days The minimum amount of time needed to give your digestive system a rest.
5-7 days The maximum time recommended for juice cleansing without medical supervision.

Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse is a liquid-only cleanse centered around a lemonade drink. It typically lasts between 10-14 days. Medical supervision is recommended when following this cleanse for more than a few days.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting involves alternating intervals of eating with fasting over a period of time. Fasting periods can range from 12-36 hours over the course of a few days to a few weeks.

Whole Food Cleanse

A whole food cleanse focuses on eating only unprocessed, natural foods for a set period of time, usually 7-30 days. The foods allowed vary based on the cleanse, but often include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.

Candida Cleanse

A candida cleanse aims to eliminate excess candida yeast in the body. This type of cleanse restricts sugar, gluten, alcohol and processed foods for 2-6 weeks. Probiotic foods and anti-fungal supplements are included.

Parasite Cleanse

A parasite cleanse attempts to clear parasites from the digestive tract through supplements and foods that kill parasites. Parasite cleanses range from 2-6 weeks. Stool testing may be done before and after to verify effectiveness.

Benefits of Cleansing

Some potential benefits of doing a cleanse include:

  • Giving your digestive system a break
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Boosting immunity
  • Improving skin health
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Promoting weight loss
  • Eliminating cravings
  • Detoxifying the liver
  • Heightening mental clarity
  • Regulating blood sugar

However, some of these benefits are anecdotal and lack scientific evidence. More research is needed on the effectiveness of cleanses.

Is Cleansing Safe?

For most healthy individuals, doing a moderate juice cleanse or whole food cleanse for a few days to a week is generally safe. However, cleanses that severely restrict calories, entire food groups or last longer than two weeks may lead to nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating patterns.

Prolonged, drastic cleanses should only be done under medical supervision, especially for those with health conditions, pregnant women and children. Chronic detoxing can disrupt your body’s natural detoxification systems and metabolism.

It’s best to get clearance from your doctor before attempting a cleanse if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • History of disordered eating
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Side Effects of Cleansing

Some potential side effects of cleansing include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Hunger pains
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

These side effects are most common in the first few days as the body adjusts. Staying well hydrated, getting enough rest and easing into a cleanse can help minimize symptoms. Seeking medical care is recommended if side effects persist or become severe.

How to Transition Off a Cleanse

It’s important to properly transition off a cleanse to reduce any symptoms of reintroducing solid foods. Here are some tips:

  • Slowly introduce solid foods over 2-3 days
  • Begin with easy-to-digest foods like yogurt, soup, eggs and roasted veggies
  • Limit fiber, fat, sugar and processed foods at first
  • Chew food thoroughly and eat smaller portions
  • Consider probiotic and enzyme supplements to support digestion
  • Drink plenty of water and herbal tea
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep
  • Avoid strenuous exercise right after ending cleanse

Give your body time to readjust to your normal diet. It may take a week or two before your digestion is completely back to normal.

Developing a Sustainable Eating Pattern

While cleanses can be helpful short-term, it’s important not to view them as a quick fix. Focus on developing balanced and sustainable eating habits, exercising regularly, managing stress and getting enough sleep rather than doing repeated cleanses. Work with a healthcare professional and registered dietician to create a healthy lifestyle tailored to your individual needs.

Do Don’t
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Choose whole grains
  • Include lean protein
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take probiotics
  • Restrict entire food groups
  • Fast for prolonged periods
  • Rely on supplements alone
  • Cleanse too frequently
  • Use cleanses to lose weight

The Bottom Line

How long a cleanse lasts depends on the type, with durations ranging from 1-30 days. Shorter juice and whole food cleanses are likely safe for most healthy individuals. However, medical supervision is advised for extended, extremely low-calorie cleanses. Proper preparation, close monitoring of any side effects, slowly transitioning off the cleanse and focusing on long-term diet and lifestyle changes leads to the best outcome. While cleansing occasionally may provide some benefits, it should not replace consistent healthy eating habits.