OH it has been one of those weeks…

MONDAY: As Mrs. Peters hands back your biology midterm, you realize that you should have spent less time on the phone and more time studying last week.

TUESDAY: You can’t seem to shake the drowsy feeling you’ve been experiencing all day, and you think your crush noticed drool dribble out the side of your mouth as you dozed off in History.

WEDNESDAY: You have a calculus exam tomorrow and can’t sleep; the 967 sheep you counted can attest to your insomnia.

Enough is enough, you decide to CLEANSE.

Cleanse diets have been getting more and more attention lately, especially with celebrities like Beyoncé touting their success, but can these diets really help you wake up feeling energized, increase your productivity all while improving your skin tone?

Did You Know?
Exercise releases endorphins that affect pleasure centres in the brain making you feel good all over Cleanse diets were created on the premise that our bodies are constantly being exposed to compounds (toxins) that can be harmful to our bodies. These toxins are thought to include sugar, caffeine, food additives, herbicides and pesticides and pollutants found in the air that we breathe.

These harmful substances are thought to be causative components for many of the diseases that we see today including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems, urinary complications and many more. The toxins are also thought to be responsible for ailments like headaches and fatigue.

With these damaging chemicals are all around us it seems impossible to avoid exposure. However, cleanse diets claim that they can rid our bodies of these harmful substances.

There are two main types of cleanse diets:

DIETARY CHANGE CLEANSE: This diet encourages dietary changes and adjustments to your everyday meals by taking herbal supplements or juices, or temporarily eliminating certain foods from your diet. For example, you may be encouraged to add couch grass to your meals or cut out dairy, refined and processed foods.

Did You Know?
Couch grass is a weed that can remedy urinary tract conditions. FASTING CLEANSE: The idea comes from colon cleansing performed in clinical settings prior to gastric procedures. These diets have been labeled mono-diets and include the grape, lemon or maple syrup–based diets. Similar to the protocol of colon cleansing, the stages of the cleanse involve a period of gastric emptying using enemas or laxatives, followed by a period of fasting for 7-10 days. During this fast, a strict diet is followed, such as in the Master Cleanser diet which only allows you to consume a concoction made up of maple syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper for this time period.

Did You Know?
The body has the greatest nutrient requirements between the ages of 9-18 years. OK, you’ve got the gist - so now you ask, how is this diet supposed to renew my inner self? Through a method of autolysis (the breakdown of tissues by digestive enzymes within the tissue); the cleanse is thought to remove harmful compounds from the internal cellular environment of diseased tissues while keeping excretory organs functioning in order to expel toxins from the body.

People that have tried these diets have experienced phlegm-y coughs and stomach pain that have them rushing to the washroom and even excessive sweating or acne. These symptoms are expected to occur and are said to be part of the cleansing process.

Although many swear by cleanse diets, there is limited scientific evidence indicating that they are beneficial.

As a young adult, it is important to be careful of diets that restrict foods. By limiting your food intake, you can compromise normal growth and function. Making healthy food choices (Canada’s Food Guide), such as eating less processed foods, and regular physical activity can be the most beneficial way of relieving that weekly stress.

DISCLAIMER: A cleanse diet is not a diet designed for weight loss.

Learn More!

Cook, MS. The 4-week Ultimate Detox Plan. November 2004.

Donatelle RJ, Davis LG, Munroe AJ, Munroe A, Casselman M. Health: The Basics. Third Canadian Edition. Pearson Education Inc. Toronto, 2004.

Stipanuk MH. Biochemical and Physiological Aspects of Human Nutrition. Saunders. Philadelphia, 2000.

Vasey, C. The DETOX Mono Diet: The Miracle Grape Cure and other Cleansing Diets. August 2006.

PDR Health (http://www.pdrhealth.com/)

Zahra is an MSc student in Nutrition at the University of Alberta. Her love for stories and storytelling is one of her escapes from the everyday.

Zahra Hassanali

I have my MSc in Nutritional Sciences and am currently working towards becoming a registered dietitian. Aside from the world of science, another passion of mine is painting. 

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