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Detox & Cleanse Programs

by | Jun 12, 2020 | FASTING METHODS | 0 comments

The Big Idea

While technically not part of the fasting family, cleanses and detox diets share many of the same goals as a fast: better digestion, more energy, healthier skin, improved mood, and weight loss are just a few.

Cleanses and detox diets usually focus on improving liver health, the main detox organ, and nearly all of them enhance elimination and digestion.

Though detoxes and cleanses are extremely varied in how they get the job done – ranging from supplements to meal kits and even enemas, — their common purpose is to give your body a break from unhealthy foods and habits that cause you to be unwell. In this sense, cleanses and detox diets are similar to fasts.

But unlike fasting, many popular cleanses/detoxes have little to no scientific evidence backing them up.

What It Is

Detox diets and cleanses are dietary regimens aimed at restoring health and vitality. The first recorded cleanses were actually just water and liquid fasts, but most modern cleanses and detoxes typically include protein powders, juices, meal replacements, and targeted supplementation.

Many cleanses gain popularity by celebrity endorsement – such as Gwyneth Paltrow and the ‘Clean’ program – and also through high-profile authors who recommend a particular cleansing method. Some detox protocols involve abstinence from certain types of food, such as meat or processed ingredients; others exclude all types of food. And dissimilar to fasting, cleanses and detoxes usually happen over periods of a week to a month.


While there are tens of thousands of people who’ve benefited from one program or another, the research on cleanses and detox diets is essentially non-existent. That said, there are a few undeniable benefits that apply to most any cleansing protocol:


The vast majority of detox diets and cleanses severely limit or altogether nix sugar. This is a good thing, because the continual consumption of sugar is linked to diabetes – and diabetes is correlated with heart disease. Any break from sugar, whether from a cleanse or not, is welcomed by your body.

Real food

Though some detoxes are pill-centric, most are focused on resetting your relationship with food: getting more of the real stuff, and avoiding processed junk. This is a huge positive for your health, because processed foods are often devoid of nutrients that support optimal health and energy, and they’re almost always filled with cheap fillers (like sugar and industrial oils) that cause disease.

Weight loss

Anecdotal reports show that cleanses and detox diets can help people lose up to 70 pounds due to long-term habit changes. In an article for Women’s World, Dr. Mark Hyman says that his patients frequently lose “8, 12, and even 20 pounds in just over a week.” Though there isn’t research to support weight loss claims for any cleanse, it’s easy enough to see how cutting out empty calories and including more nourishing food would support an optimal body composition.


There’s an old saying, “The dose makes the poison.” This is definitely true for detox diets and cleanses. While most of these won’t hurt to try, long-term adherence could pose a risk – especially to those with health conditions. Always make sure to consult your doctor before attempting a detox or cleanse of any kind.

Here are some risks for typical cleansing diets:

  • diarrhea caused by magnesium salts and laxatives
  • headache and fatigue due to calorie restriction
  • electrolyte imbalance through large quantities of water and minimal food
  • kidney problems, especially due to juices high in oxalic acid
  • rebound weight gain after consuming a low-calorie diet.

How to Do It

There are several types of cleanses and detox diets, only a few of which we can cover here.


Whole30 is a challenge that excludes the following foods for 30 days:

  • dairy
  • grains
  • alcohol
  • processed foods
  • additives (including MSG, carrageenan, and sulfites)
  • soy
  • sugars (even natural sugars, such as honey or maple syrup)
  • no baked goods

Many use this detox diet to identify hidden food intolerances or allergies, and also to reset their relationships with food. Though there is quite a lot of restriction in this diet, the founders encourage you to eat meat, seafood, and eggs, fruits and vegetables, natural fats, and herbs, spices, and seasonings. One non-food related rule: no stepping on the scale! (Except on the first and last days.)

Be Well Cleanse

The Be Well Cleanse was pioneered by Dr. Frank Lipman, author of How to Be Well, and its purpose is to reset your digestive health. It does over a two-week period with the following:

  • three protein shakes per day
  • two weeks of digestive enzymes and herbal supplements
  • L-glutamine (to repair the gut lining)
  • online nutrition and lifestyle classes
  • and a shopping list of allowed foods

Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Detox

Dr. Hyman is an outspoken voice for fasting and healthy eating. His 10-day detox is centered on eliminating processed foods, and it includes the following:

  • nutrient-dense whole foods that don’t spike blood sugar
  • detoxing supplements such as magnesium, zinc and GABA
  • recommendations for time-restricted eating
  • meal replacement shakes
  • text coaching

Master cleanse

The Master Cleanse is a liquid-only diet intended for liver detoxification and resetting the digestive system. It lasts for 10 days, and consists of a ‘fasting’ beverage made of the following ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon
  • 2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • 8 to 12 ounces of purified water

(Yep, that’s it.)

Experts advise gently easing into and out of this cleanse by cutting out processed foods and alcohol in the days before, and by limiting solid foods in the days after.

Key Experts:

Dr. Frank

Dr. Mark Hyman

Author of several best-selling wellness books, Dr. Hyman insists that any plan that eliminates toxic foods (like sugar) is a step in the right direction. From his blog: “On average, every American eats 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour each year – all of which converts to sugar…Sugar can actually be eight times more addictive than cocaine. In fact, rats will keep eating sugar even while they get electric shocks that are meant to make them stop! “
Valter Longo, PhD

Whitney Tingle & Danielle Duboise | Sakara Life

The Sakara Life organic meal delivery program is based on a whole-food, plant-rich diet that includes fresh, nutrient-dense, and delicious ingredients. Founded by Whitney Tingle & Danielle Duboise and based on 9 nutritional pillars that together form the basis of each and every meal. The Sakara Organic Meals were designed to cleanse and detox the body through natural food. They avoid a focus on calories, and do not include powders, or juices, but instead focus on fresh, ready-made meals nutritionally designed to give your body essential nutrients while it releases toxins.

Dr. Frank

Dr. Frank Lipman

Chief Medical Officer of The Well, Dr. Lipman is an advisor to a host of health, wellness, and celebrity leaders and has been a voice calling for holistic wellness and functional medicine for nearly forty years. A leader in creating the movement to blend cutting-edge, modern medicine with age-old healing techniques from the East in order to combine for personalized health care plans based on an individual’s true needs. His integrative approach takes into account physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellbeing. His program is designed to be a perpetual process as he believes that our bodies best detox over time and not as a simple annual cleanse.
Dr. Alexandro Junger

Dr. Alexandro Junger

Dr. Junger popularized the ‘Clean Program’, which has attracted celebrity followers. He says that a cleanse or detox diet should be “focused on avoiding the five ‘toxic trigger’ foods” – gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and coffee. Instead, “we should choose fruits, vegetables, and whole foods found in nature,” he said, “because the food we normally eat is loaded with toxic chemicals that can cause all kinds of chronic diseases.”

About The Author

Fast Forward Editors

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