“Detox” and “cleansing” are two of the most common buzzwords in the world of skin wellness during the spring and summer months. Many of our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioners® report that detox programs and seasonal cleanses are some of the most common topics that they get asked about from their clients. They are rampant on social media among wellness bloggers and influencers. Juice cleanses and detox programs are also widely available anywhere from the supplement aisle at the health food store, to spas and wellness centers, to doctors’ offices, to health websites. But do these programs work? Are they safe? What are the risks?

Daily smoothies are a great way to help the body detox naturally.While doing a structured cleanse or detox program for a set period of time may be beneficial for some people, it’s not always a good idea for others. Most cleanses extremely restrictive and specific diets, herbs, and supplements and do not take into account a person’s state of health and mental wellbeing.

According to a 2019 article in the Wall Street Journal, many dietitians have real concerns about these “clean eating” trends, because of increased prevalence of an eating disorder called “orthorexia nervosa. an eating disorder concerned with an obsession with health, wellness and clean eating. Orthorexia involves food and nutrient restriction, which can lead to lowered metabolism, lowered sex hormones and loss of menstruation, brittle hair and dry skin, bone loss, and cardiovascular issues.”

A 2018 study also uncovered a link between juice cleanse diets and orthorexia, as well as purging disorder. The study’s conclusion noted that “in the non-clinical environment, there is an institutionalization of eating habits that are dangerous to the health. This ‘detox’ is not only physiologically harmful, but it is not proved to provide long-term help in mental health either. As a solution, we advocate developing an appropriate health communication plan for misconceptions about healthy lifestyle and eating, and also a promotion of psychotherapeutic opportunities.”

NAA Advisory Board Member and Clinical Nutritionist, Jennifer Fugo, has serious concerns about DIY cleanses and restrictive diets. She says:

Jennifer Fugo“As a clinical nutritionist, I find the overuse of detoxes and elimination diets to be incredibly troubling specifically because of the damage that they can cause. While I realize that people mean well, excessive elimination of various foods from one’s diet (without clear cause) can lead to nutrient deficiencies, orthorexia, and increased reactivity to food (making it really difficult to reintroduce later on). All of this increases stress and other factors that can actually end up making your skin worse… and worst-case scenario, can land you in the hospital.”

For more information from Jennifer on this topic, check out this episode of The Healthy Skin Show.

Is it possible to help support detox naturally, without juice cleanses and detox programs?

Our philosophy is that detoxification should be supported on a regular basis through the diet and lifestyle methods. While a cleanse or detox may be appropriate for some people, an overall healthy lifestyle is best to achieve and maintain desired results. Integrating healthy eating and lifestyle habits into your lifestyle will help you achieve results over time. You will likely be able to sustain these methods for the long-term since they fit right into your daily life.

Here are our top 9 ways to help your body detox naturally:

1. Add more greens into the diet…have green smoothies with breakfasts and for afternoon snacks, have a big salad with every meal, have sautéed or steamed greens as a side dish, etc.

2. Make sure you drink enough water at room temperature or warmer. Warm water helps to “unclog the drains,” as one of our favorite teachers Dr. John Douillard says.

3. Add more whole grains into your diet like brown rice and quinoa–the fiber helps move waste out of the body.

4. Add raw, fermented foods into your diet like a good quality probiotic, kombucha, raw sauerkraut or cultured veggies, coconut water or almond milk kefir (not a big fan of milk kefir or yogurt because the dairy is mucus forming and acidic), or raw apple cider vinegar

5. Add movement like rebounding, jogging, kundalini or power yoga, dance, or other types of exercise.

6. Dry brushing of the skin is great for helping the lymphatic system transport waste to be filtered and then eliminated.

7. Weekly salt baths (preferably after dry brushing) are fantastic to help the body detox through the skin.

8. Practice daily breathing exercises like pranayama or Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique HERE–deep breathing is great for stress management, and spiritual and emotional wellness, but it is also great for detoxifying the blood and the respiratory system.

9. Switch to natural and organic household cleaning and personal care products. Consuming substances like pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones in animal products, preservatives, synthetic fragrances, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and other nasties is very hard on our bodies. The human body was not designed to handle the amount of environmental toxicants we face on a regular basis. The more we can reduce our intake of these toxicants, the more efficiently the body can handle the endotoxins that it produces on its own, or that have already accumulated.

The more you can do to support your body’s overall health on a daily basis, the more efficiently it can detox naturally.

We’re not saying to never do a cleanse or go on a detox again. However, we do feel that they are too often used as a substitute for overall healthy living. A seasonal cleanse cannot undo the effects of an otherwise unhealthy year; but with the right support from a licensed or properly qualified nutrition or healthcare professional, they might be a good jump start for those new to healthy eating, or for overall maintenance.

What’s your experience with juice cleanses or detox programs?

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!Have you ever tried one? Do your clients ask you about them? What are your thoughts or questions? Please share in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The information in this article and on this website is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be taken as personal nutrition or medical advice, nor it is a substitute for seeking services from a licensed nutritionist or healthcare professional. We highly recommend discussing questions or concerns about your personal eating habits and health with your preferred licensed healthcare professional.