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Credit: Flickr/Michael Raichelson

Many popular cleanses make unfounded health claims

During January many people try using a cleanse to help them recover from the party season

Many of the popular commercial cleanses make bold claims as to their health benefits. They can also be quite expensive.

So the question is, do they work?

How Cleanses Work

Most cleanses have you follow a strict diet for a number of days. You normally have to cut out many types of food -- usually those containing sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Different cleanses may cut out even more foods like meat, dairy or wheat, or even have you cut out food completely and just drink a liquid diet.

In addition, most cleanse regimes have you consume some type of proprietary supplement, usually pills, juice or a powder you mix to make a drink. The supplement contains their special mix of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other "natural" compounds. These supplements are supposed to help detoxify your body by helping your digestion, liver function and elimination.

The makers of these cleanses claim it is the special supplement that produces these remarkable detoxification benefits. 

Unfounded Claims

But looking at the scientific literature, there is no evidence to support these claims.

Having looked at a few of the more popular cleanses, I have to agree with the scientists.

I think any benefit you get isn't from taking a special supplement; you feel better because you're cutting out a lot of the crap you were overindulging in.

If you want a truly healthy way to jumpstart your nutrition program, try my natural food cleanse.

Natural Food Cleanse

This cleanse is simple to do. Just remove all the following foods and ingredients from your diet.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Sugar (except natural sugars in fruit) - including sucrose, glucose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols such as mannitol, sorbitol, lacitol, xylitol, and maltitol
  • Milk and cheese
  • Artificial sweeteners - including aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), saccharin (Sweet 'N Low), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame-K (Sunette) and any others
  • Alcohol - all forms (beer, wine and spirits)
  • Refined or non-whole grain products - all types of flour including bread, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies and cereals
  • Caffeine products - coffee, tea, hot chocolate, colas, pop, non-herbal teas
  • Processed food - anything that is packaged, canned, bottled or in a jar except as noted in the allowed foods below

If you think this leaves you with nothing to eat, you're wrong!

Allowed foods:

  • All types of meat including beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild fowl, wild game, buffalo and pork, preferably grass-fed or free range
  • Any type of fruit including avocados, olives, apples, pears, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, grapes, melons, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, pineapples and any other not listed
  • Any type of vegetable including potato, pumpkin, rutabaga, sweet potato, yam, beet, corn, eggplant, parsnip, radish, all types of squash, turnip, zucchini, broccoli, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, collard greens, garlic, onion, kale, parsley, leafy greens, peppers, scallion, sprouts, tomato, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, mushroom, spinach, artichoke, carrot, pea, green beans and any other vegetable you can think of.
  • Butter, eggs and yogurt
  • All types of seafood including fish and shellfish, preferably wild and sustainable
  • All types of nuts and seeds including walnuts, pumpkin seeds (raw), peanuts, sunflower seeds (raw), almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, coconuts, macadamia nuts and any other nuts or seeds in unprocessed form
  • Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, hemp seed oil and oils made from other nuts or seeds
  • Sea salt, fresh ground pepper, spices and herbs (preferably fresh). No sugar!

All you have to do is eat five to six meals each day (three meals and two or three snacks) and drink six to eight glasses of water.

That's it. No supplements to take. No special juices to drink.

Follow it for two entire weeks and see if you notice a difference in your health and energy levels.

Check out some of my favourite cookbooks for recipe ideas using the allowed foods.