For many, going on a juice cleanse, fast, or any other calorie-restrictive diet is no longer seen as unhealthy, but instead, is the thing to do. Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek make cleanses seem fashionable, and trainers like David Kirsch give detoxes a healthy stamp of approval. Many of you have said that cleansing is a great way to flush toxins from the body, or that you'd at least like to try one out.
Proponents of cleansing say it's a necessity: we take in so much crap (environmentally, too) that detoxing is the only way to restore our bodies. These diets are a means to purify the digestive system, which rids the body of detrimental toxins. The bonus side effects? Weight loss, great skin, more energy, and a clearer mind. Are these claims for real, or just a state of mind by those hopping aboard this trend? With the help of Michael Gershon, M.D., a Columbia University professor who has spent his career researching the digestive system, and a few other experts in the medical field, Vogue examines the claims of juice fasts and detoxes to see if they hold any merit. The results are eye-opening and may make you think twice before plopping down $400 on a cleansing kit.
To find out what the experts say about cleansing,
- You'll rid your body of a lifetime of toxic chemicals. Through the years I've seen all sorts of horrible pictures of bowel movements in support of cleanses. The theory is that detoxing is a way to let the digestive system rest so it can really push out all those toxins that have been building up. As a result, you'll be at less risk for developing illness and disease. Not so, says Gershon. The body, it seems, is fine at cleansing itself: "If you eat something that the body interprets as toxic, the liver gets rid of it. If it's water-soluble, the kidney pumps it out."
- You'll drop two dress sizes. It's true you probably will lose weight doing a cleanse, but it's the wrong kind. Vogue reports: "Without enough protein, the body turns to muscle for fuel after about three days, which can make weight loss appear more dramatic because of muscle's bulk." Those pounds you're shedding may be valuable muscle, and not fat. Losing muscle slows down your metabolism too, meaning you'll probably gain more weight in the end.
- You'll experience euphoria. While detoxing, it's not unusual to have participants describe feelings of euphoria or "intense joy." This may not be your body telling you it's happy, though, but the exact opposite. "The euphoria may actually be a sign the body thinks it's starving and is trying to prevent suffering."
- You'll look 10 years younger. All that water and vitamin-rich juice you have during a cleanse does pay off after all, especially since you've cut out sugar, caffeine, and alcohol too. The extra hydration plumps up skin to give it a glow, but it's unfortunately "short-lived." Over time, robbing your body of needed calories can actually result in "volume loss in the skin," causing wrinkles.
Find out what other cleansing claims Vogue busted in its April issue, out on newsstands now.