Staying Healthy with Detox

Cleanses and Fasts – Do We Really Need Them?

Veggie Juices

Periodic Cleansing Can Help You Stay Healthy

Veggie JuicesThe body is a complex system made up of tissues and organs that function to keep each other run efficiently and smoothly. What we take in as nourishment and supplementation also adds up to this process. Some of it can be good while others can be bad, once they build up. In time, you will observe that your system is not as efficient as before, like when your energy slowly depletes or when your digestion seems “off”. Other times, you realize that for you to achieve a goal for your body, you need to start off with a clean slate. And that is why you turn to cleanses and fasts as a way to reset your body.

Cleansing works on the premise that the human body collects toxins, waste, and allergens over time and this gunk should be eliminated by your system. But natural bodily processes can only do so much and eventually the retained sludge build up inside the body. In time, it will affect your digestion, make you feel bloated, affect the development of your muscles and joints, and make you feel tired all throughout the day. And this is where cleansing can be helpful.

For most people who swear by cleanses, they believe that this step is the best way to rid the body off of these toxins. As a result, their digestive system is efficient again and they regain the energy that seemed to have depleted before.  We’ll now explore some of the most well-known types of cleanses.

Cleansing With Fresh Produce – Whole-Food or Juiced

Cleanses are typically built around vegetables and fruit, usually raw, and either whole-food or juiced.  Some are build around 1000 to 1200 calories per day.  Others are very low in calories.  Brought to the world by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940’s, the Master Cleanse intense 10-day cleanse that aims to detoxify your digestive system. For the course of the cleanse, you consume only a juice made of lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.  Totally daily consumption is around 500 to 600 calories per day, depending on how much maple syrup you consume.  Each morning, you consume a salt-water drink (called the salt-water flush) or an herbal laxative. The Master Cleanse is known for cleaning out the bowels very effectively.

sliced lemons

The Raw Vegan Cleanse, you eat only fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. It works on the premise that raw foods contain enzymes which are essential in relieving your liver and your digestive tract from the toxin buildup. It is a very healthy cleanse and vegans will find it an easy one since the food options is already a part of what they already consume daily. Make sure that you are well-hydrated throughout the cleanse. Aside from filtered water, you can also drink fresh juices, unsweetened drinks, coconut water, herbal tea and non-dairy milk. If you plan on going for it on less than 1000 calories a day, it would be great to do the cleanse for not more than a week. As the cleanse promotes clean eating, doing the Raw Vegan Cleanse can be your starting point for a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Mehmet Oz also has a 48-Hour Cleanse.  The purpose of this quick cleanse is to detoxify your liver, colon, and kidney. With Dr. Oz’s cleanse, your diet will be based mainly on healthy juice and raw vegetables. The great thing about the cleanse, aside from its quick duration, is that you are allowed to eat solid food.

Another variation on a veggie-based cleanse is a green smoothie fast.  For a short period (typically 5 to 7 days), you consume blended veggies with a bit of fruit.  Calories per day are closer to 1000 to 1200 per day.  Lots of greens are included which are very nourishing and effective to assist with elimination.  This is much easier than juice fasting and provides lots of fiber to keep blood sugar more stable while helping to calm hunger pangs.

Many Cleanses Focus on the Colon

There are many types of colon cleanses to choose from.  Colon cleansing works on two ideas. The first one will have you consuming laxative teas or supplements with a bulking agent such as psyllium husks, which aim to eliminate your colon from the toxins that it has retained.  Another approach is through the process of colon irrigation where water will be introduced gently into your rectum in several irrigating washes.  This is done to help you flush out the toxins along with the water.

Doing a cleanse as a way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle is a good option. However, it shouldn’t be done for long-term due to the calorie restrictions as well as the lack of macronutrients in the diet. Yes, you may be losing a few pounds after the cleanse, but you may also be losing bone and muscle mass due to the lack of essential nutrients that your body subsists on. Cutting down on foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals for a few days is fine, unless of course, you already have a vitamin deficiency. However, doing longer-term cleanses can cause a variety of health issues.


Almost all types of fasting will clean your body from the unwanted toxins that you need to eliminate. In choosing a fasting method, you need to consider your goals, your lifestyle as well as how poor your diet has been before. Fasting is a great way to rest your digestive system. It can also be your means of breaking an unhealthy eating pattern and start off with a new and healthier one.

Absolute fasting is an intense type of fasting involves the non-consumption of both food and water and usually lasts for not more than one day. It is done periodically as a spiritual practice and has not been studied extensively yet. However, it is very likely that when you do absolute fasting for more than a day, you will experience being lethargic, weak, dizzy and feel your energy deplete. It is not highly recommended since natural detoxing will eventually occur and having that on a dehydrated system is not exactly the healthiest measure.

Another moderately intense cleanse is liquid-only fasting  The most common type of liquid fasting is water fast, which rests and re-sets your digestive organs. Since your body is still well-hydrated, you can preserve your muscle mass while you are losing weight. However, it can be challenging to do and when done on a longer term, you will eventually be sacrificing lean muscles and undergo ketosis as your glycogen stores deplete. Liquid fasting is also commonly performed with juices where you only consume pure (ideally fresh) fruit and vegetable juices.  With juice fasts, it is important not to rely solely on fruit but ideally to include more vegetables.

Intermittent Fasting

Quite popular recently are intermittent fasts.  There are several variations of these.  One is the 5:2 program where normal eating is done 5 days and very low calorie eating for 2 days per week.  Other approaches involve daily “fasts” of 16 to 18 hours with eating confined to a 6 to 8 hour window each day.  Studies have shown that even such short periods of fasting can be beneficial to product weight loss, help address blood sugar and blood pressure issues, and to slow aging.

Finally, one can choose partial fasting, where you will be ingesting both liquid and solid food. When doing a partial diet, your food choice will be limited in kind and not in quantity. Some of the common partial fasts include the one-fruit fast, the all-fruit fast, the brown rice fast and the cleansing diet where you will be avoiding all types of processed and microwaved foods.

prep green smoothies

Choosing and Preparing for Fasting

As per the length of time, you should only fast within the duration that you are most comfortable with. Even one-day fasts can be hard to perform if it is your first time. A sixteen-hour fast might be a good start and then you can move to longer fasts. For monthly fasts as a part of your detox plan, you can do a three-day fast. A week-long fast is normally done on a quarterly basis while 10-day fasts, including the Master Cleanse, can be done as a yearly maintenance routine. People who are under close professional supervision and have experience of fasting before can fast for several weeks, but it should be done carefully.

You should also consider preparing yourself prior to doing the fasting so you can still function properly while at it.  Or you can assess how willing are you to go far with your fast, if you can have people take over your responsibilities and if you can place yourself in a level of discomfort without giving up so easily. If you want to be comfortable first and ease into it gradually, that is absolutely fine.

Everyone can do cleanses and fasts, provided that they are in great physical and health conditions. That said, women who are pregnant or currently nursing are not recommended to the fast, especially since it will affect the baby’s nutritional consumption. People with medical conditions such as those who have anemia, weak immune system, diabetes and high blood pressure should seek professional advice first prior to fasting and cleansing. These methods may rid the body of toxins, but their mechanisms can also affect the system especially when a person is on medication. Once they are allowed, they should still be closely monitored and supervised to avoid any health complications. The same can be said for people who have just undergone a surgery or have just recovered from an illness. The body needs time and nutrients to recuperate. Lastly, people with anorexia and bulimia should not be doing these methods as it can only aggravate their eating disorders.

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Have you ever done fasting or cleansing?  If so, please let us know about your experience in the comment box below.



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Thriving on Plants is a resource for a whole food, plant-based way of eating and living. Here we celebrate all things plant and honor the power of informed awareness and a diet focused primarily of unprocessed vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains to support good health and happiness. Discover what a little more plant can do for your life!


This website is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing presented here should be construed as a substitute for medical advice. Before beginning any type of new diet (natural or conventional), it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed physician, nutritionist and/or healthcare professional.
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