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Cleanses and Detoxes – A Brief Review

Guest post by Katrine van Wyk

With a new year comes new promises, new opportunities and a fresh start. If you’re one of those people who sets intentions or resolutions on New Years Eve I’m sure you’re also someone who likes self-improvement and moving forward.
Before we move forward and bring on the new, we have to put away or toss out the old! And so – it’s time to talk cleansing!

Spring time is the ideal time for cleansing, but if you’re eager to get going straight away just make sure to stick to a cleanse that includes some solid, cooked foods for now (at least if you live in the northern states! ). It’s cold out there and we need hearty foods to pull through. Save the raw food and hard core juice cleanses for he warmer months.

Here are a few examples of the popular cleanses that are out there and I’ve tried them all. Keep in mind that this is all based on my own experience and that anyone embarking on a detox plan should do so with supervision from their doctor or health practitioner.

The Master Cleanse

Low Down:
The Master cleanse is also known as the lemonade diet, as all(!) it really entails is drinking large amounts of lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup for ten days. You also drink a laxative herbal tea every night to move things along.

Then you start the day by jugging down one liter ( quarter gallon) of salt water in order to flush your system.

Mentally this brings a lot of clarity and focused thinking after you get over the three day hump. You get more energy, loose pounds quickly and it’s pretty easy and affordable to do!

My favorite thing about this cleanse is the awareness that it brings to your relationship to food. You realize how much energy you spend on thinking about, planning, purchasing, cooking and eating food. All of the sudden you remove a big part of your everyday life and have time to read a lot more. It can be a powerful mental challenge.

This is a pure starvation cleanse or fast and all the weight you loose you will gain back and then some. This is a pretty hard core cleanse that will dump a lot of toxins on your liver at once and you don’t know whether or not your liver can handle it all at once. The liver will then push the toxins back into your bloodstream making you feel sick.
Also – this kind of cleanse can reek some havoc on your blood sugar – you’re pretty much running on pure sugar for ten days. I noticed having sugar cravings after going off the cleanse and all the weight I lost I gained back and then some! My body was completely starved and was holding on to every piece of energy I fed it – despite eating a healthy, clean diet! I absolutely hated drinking that liter of salt water every morning!

It can cause a lot more harm than good. If you choose to do a fast like this, please do it with the supervision of a health professional.

The Clean Program

Low Down:
This is the detox program created by Dr. Alejandro Junger and made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow and Donna Karan. You drink a smoothie or powder shake for breakfast and dinner and then have a simple, clean meal at lunch for three weeks. All typical allergy and high-pesticide foods are removed and the two liquid meals gives your digestive system a break and a chance to spend its energy eliminating toxins instead. There is also a set of supplements you can buy and take to support the detox process.

Here you get a chance to still eat some solid, healthy foods (based on an Elimination Diet) and the length of 21 days allows for a real reset to happen. By the time I finished this cleanse I could also test if I had any food allergies, as I had not consumed any of the typical allergy foods for 21 days. By slowly introducing one food at a time and monitoring my bodies response I could pin point what foods made my body happy and which once don’t. I ended up cutting out gluten and feel a lot better for it!

If you buy the powders for the shakes and all the supplements it gets quite expensive. It can also be a bit labor intensive if you’re not used to cooking your own meals from scratch. The 21 days can be quite a commitment so this is only for those who are truly motivated and want to make a real change.

I recommend it. This cleanse is a longer and also more gentle on the body. If you choose to buy the kit it’s pretty convenient and easy to do. I also like that you can do some food-sensitivity testing on yourself.

Elimination Diet

Low Down:
This kind of cleanse or diet removes all typical allergy and foods people tend to be sensitive to and will allow you to pin point your food intolerances. Because you are removing all refined and processed foods for 21 days, you will also experience more energy, some weight loss, clearer skin and overall feeling of well being.

Foods to avoid include gluten, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, soy, corn, shellfish and nightshade vegetables.

This cleans up your diet nicely and brings awareness to the amount of processed and highly refined foods you might have been relying on. If you also avoid all sugar you will have drastically reduced any sugar cravings you might have had before. This is a great cleanse for people who are experiencing digestive issues, congestion and/or low energy to really find out if the culprit is in their food.

This does not have as much of a detox effect as you are still eating a lot of solid foods and the digestion is still working away.

Do it if you’re suspicious you might have a food sensitivity.

White Cleanse

This is a pretty straight forward diet removing all the dirty whites; dairy, refined sugar (including alcohol!) potatoes and flour (especially gluten) for a set period of time.

Easy and not too restrictive. It removes all processed and refined foods from your diet. If you make sure to eat some protein with every meal, this is a great plan for stabilization of your blood sugar and to get rid of those sugar cravings once and for all! I experienced improved and more stabile energy throughout the day, no more mood swings, improved digestion and clearer skin.

Again, this is more a diet and lifestyle change than a detox.

Do it! Removing processed and refined foods and stabilizing our blood sugar is a lifestyle change we can all benefit from.

Candida Cleanse

Candida overgrowth can cause a huge range of symptoms and really drain your energy and immune system. If you suspect or have been told by your health helper that you may have candida overgrowth – a candid cleanse is inevitable. There are several different versions of this cleanse out there but what they all have in common is complete exclusion of all sugar and vinegar and “aged” foods. This includes fruits, white flour and gluten, hard cheese, vinegars and alcohol.

This will certainly crack any sugar addiction you might have. If you have a yeast/candida overgrowth this diet is also a crucial part of your recovery and healing process.

This can certainly feel restrictive and hard to keep up and it’s often necessary to stay on the cleanse for months.

Do it if you need it.

Potassium Cleanse w/ Vegetables Broths and Bentonite Clay

Low Down:
This is a one week cleanse that utilizes some powerful natural detoxers to help pull out and eliminate toxins efficiently as well as support healing. You sip vegetable broth throughout the day and take bentonite clay and lemon water. The vegetable broths are high in potassium and minerals also help bringing the body back to its proper pH level. An overly acidic environment can cause a lot of damage and eventually even chronic disease. Bentonite clay is basically concentrated minerals and acts as a catalyst by absorbing toxins before they enter the bloodstream. The clay reduces the overload of toxins that the liver and kidneys normally have to filter out. It is also recommended to do a few colonics and/or enemas while on the cleanse.

This cleanse relies on natures powerful mineral sources which I really like. It is also completely free of sugar/fruit so that the bloodsugar wont get thrown up and down all day as with some of the juice cleanses. The colon cleansing is crucial for proper nutrient absorption later. I did this cleanse, but included one simple meal at lunch time of steamed vegetables and brown rice. That way I wasn’t so famished and didn’t stop my metabolism completely, which I prefer.

This can be a bit labor intensive (making all the broth) and you might have to slow down a bit for a few days as you’re detoxing and not eating any solid foods.

Do it! It’s going to give you a proper cleanse without causing any sugar dependency.

Juice Cleanses:

Low Down:
This has turned into a major industry [read moneymaker] with companies like OrganicAvenue, BluePrintCleanse and The JuicePress offering their own programs and delivery services. These usually include six different juices or elixir’s per day – all designed to help you detox and rejuvenate with ingredients like cayenne pepper, wheat grass and lemon. Oh – and if you have a juicer you can obviously make your own juices instead!

Drinking all these vegetable and fruit juices will surely give you a real vitamin and mineral boost! These are highly nutritious drinks and by avoiding all solid foods you are giving your digestion a break, so that it can rid itself of some of the old build up. You can choose the length of your cleanse from one day to a week.

Many of the juice cleanse programs out there are really high in fruit and therefore sugar. You might just be running around on a constant sugar high and if you have a sensitive blood sugar that is certainly not a good idea. Also – because you’re only drinking juice you’re not getting any fiber in you and that might slow down your digestion. It is crucial to have proper eliminations every day when you’re cleansing.

Do it only with supervision and planning.

Resources for more info:

Juice Cleanse:

Clean Program:


Bentonite Clay:

About Katrine:

Katrine van Wyk came to New York as a model from Norway six years ago. She left the industry soon after to complete her studies. A personal journey in challenging the conventional wisdom about dieting and nutrition led her to becoming a holistic health coach. Katrine, in rejecting one single dietary solution, uses practical coaching methods to discover what works best for her client’s health and lifestyle. She uses a holistic approach to wellness and nutrition that is more rewarding and way more fun. Working with Katrine you’ll discover what healthy means for you — absolutely no deprivation, starvation or guilt.

Katrine is a graduate from Oslo University and the New School and is currently enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Twitter: @KatrinesJourney

What do you think about cleansing? Have you tried any cleanses that made you feel great? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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