Whether you've overindulged on sugar, processed foods, or feel the sluggish effects of alcohol, juice cleanses are designed to be a short-term fix. Maybe your goal is to feel better, have more energy, and -- ideally -- drop a few pounds. But, for most people, even the best-planned cleanse is a gateway to more long-term struggles than you imagined.
If you follow most juice cleanses to a "T," the initial results are almost too good to be true. That is until you stop your juice cleanse.
The moment you return to your "normal" diet, the problems seemingly come from every direction. You gain weight, you feel bloated, you don't respond to foods the same way, and your stomach doesn't quite feel right.
The good news? You can avoid this experience and help reset your body, but it requires you to rethink what it means to cleanse.
Why Most Detoxes Don't Work
Although there are toxins around us, your body was built to fight them off and keep you safe. If you truly want to detox or cleanse, the most effective methods are the ones you won't see promoted in any health food store.
You see, your body is designed to remove toxins and waste on its own. Your liver is your toxic removal system. Unless you have liver disease, the bad stuff in your diet and environment are removed naturally by your body.
Your kidneys function in a very similar fashion and also help get rid of waste byproducts. If your kidneys didn't remove the waste, then it would stay in your bloodstream and you would suffer from severe medical conditions that would not be fixed by a cleanse.
That’s not to say it’s a bad idea to drink products that are loaded with vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods, such as Ladder Greens.
If you want to eat healthy foods for other reasons, please indulge and eat up. If you like a greens juice for the nutritional value, then drink up.
The best nutrition plans are formed when you set realistic expectations on what supplements will do for you. Products like greens powders or juices are perfectly healthy. And you should use them to help fill gaps in your diet or supply your body with nutrients that exercise depletes.
But, there’s a big difference between supporting your health with the right nutrients (which is what you can expect), and taking anything that promises to protect your body against cancer or other dangerous diseases (unfortunately, nutrition hasn't advanced to those types of guarantees).
Knowing that those types of claims are sensationalized can help you avoid products that might be stretching the truth a little too much.
That said, there are other effective ways to help your body reset.
The Natural Detox
The only real cleanse that works for your body occurs at the cellular level. It’s called autophagy, and it’s your body’s natural ability to regenerate and repair, and it typically kicks into high gear when you sleep.
Autophagy helps you recover from injuries, repairs your brain to keep it functioning, helps with muscle growth and fat loss, and allows you to function at a high level on a day-to-day basis.
Autophagy has so much potential that scientists are trying to understand how it can help with everything from cancer to degenerative diseases, as well as fighting against common bacterias and viruses.
But, for autophagy to take place, you need to not be eating, which is why fasting has become popular (it was originally for anti-aging, not weight loss).
If you’re interested in fasting, start slow and don’t overthink the process. Your body requires balance, which means you need time when you fast and times when you eat. Just because a little bit of fasting is good for your body does not mean that a lot of fasting is even better.
There are two primary methods to fast that can help prime your body for autophagy.
Method 1: A 24-hour fast
As the name would suggest, you'll go 24 hours without eating. But, that doesn’t mean the 24 hours have to happen in one day. For example, you could eat dinner on Monday night at 7 pm, and then fast all day until 7 pm on Tuesday, eat dinner again, and then return to your regular eating schedule. Research suggests that just one fast might have health benefits.
Method 2: The 16/8 fast
This approach requires you to fast for 16 hours every day. For some, this is more doable because it’s a smaller window of time. However, it also means daily fasts, which is something you should consider.
If you choose to give it a try, you’ll provide a balanced approach your body needs on a cellular level. When you eat, you provide vital nutrients and calories that support all of your body’s functions. When you fast, the autophagic process will kick in and help restore a balance to how your cells function.