The Dirty Truth About Cleansing. ~ Tova Payne

Via elephant journal
on Jun 23, 2013
get elephant's newsletter


If you’re a juice cleanse fanatic, or a raving fan of the master cleanse, you are not gonna like what I have to say and you may want to avoid this article altogether.

However, it is my desire to expose the truth about cleansing.

First, cleansing can mean many things to different people. So to make sure we are on the same page, I am talking about those radical cleanses, like the master cleanse where you only drink a lemon-water-maple-cayenne mix. Also there is juice fasting, where you only drink juice all day or the apple cleanse, where all you eat is apples for days. There are a multitude of cleanses out there, and I’m sure you can think of many more that your co-worker just told you about.

The word cleansing has become a mask to hide the words “crash diet.”

You see, going on a crash diet just isn’t sexy anymore. Especially if you run in so-called health oriented or spiritual circles where dieting is not talked about, because it’s just not cool.

Instead, cleansing is the new word that really stands for crash diet.

Look, I know there is like one percent of the population who does these cleanses for a deeply spiritual experience or as a method to heal a specific ailment. I am not talking about that one percent. I am referring to the other 99 percent of people hiding behind the illusion that a cleanse is a sexy and healthy way to lose weight fast, without just owning up to the truth that these radical cleanses are crash diets in disguise.

It’s plain and simple that we all know these type of diets are just not healthy. They confuse your metabolism, and for most people lead to treacherous symptoms that are not a wholesome way to clean up your body.

Juicing has become a multibillion dollar business and has been highly correlated with eating disorders. The problem is, if you want to clean out your body from too many late nights of drinking, too many sugary breakfasts, and fat-laden deep fried snacks, the answer is simple: all you need to do to cleanse your body is remove the sugar, the poor quality fats, and refined, packaged foods.

Anytime that you starve your body with a very small amount of calories, your body goes into starvation mode, which means your metabolism will slow down. This is a big problem because most people who complete a cleanse do not move into a diet high in fruits vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Many people go right back to the diet they were eating before and used the cleanse as a “quick fix.”

Cleansing is being used the same way crash diets are: to lose a quick five pounds in a week. This kind of radical dieting is not beneficial. Your body needs a medley of vitamins and minerals and enough calories to support your daily basic needs. Most radical cleanses do not have the variety of nutrients nor enough calories to even sustain your daily needs. This is why it is important to understand that the radical cleanses are not a healthy choice.

In the same way crash diets often lead people into the vortex of disordered eating, these radical cleanses have been shown to do the same thing.

I am all for cleaning up your diet in a nourishing and sustainable way. Certainly raw juices can be a part of clean eating within the context of an inclusive, wholesome diet. I believe in the healing power of food to energize and improve our mood but crash dieting ‘aint the way.

Do you want a really good cleanse? Scrap all sugar from your diet for the next seven days. Want a more intense cleanse? Eliminate all sugar, dairy, red meat, wheat and processed foods from your diet for the next seven days. Increase your fruits and vegetables, beans, brown rice, quinoa, and a moderate amount of healthy raw nuts, avocado, flax oil and plenty of water.

There are healthy ways to achieve radical results and clean up your diet, without resorting to a crash diet cloaked as a cleanse. 

If you are feeling in a funk, it can be tempting to get on a cleanse, but just make sure you are doing a real cleanse that will support, nourish, and energize you.


TovaPayneTova Payne is a Health and Life Coach. She is an expert in all elements of health—from nutrition, yoga, meditation, and living with more passion and purpose. She writes, speaks, and coaches others to live exceptional and fulfilling lives through living healthy in body, mind, and spirit. This year she will be releasing a ground-breaking inspiring book on nutrition that makes the mind-body-spirit connection. For a free guide to radiant health, and updates, sign up with Tova at her website.


Like elephant health and wellness on Facebook

  • Assistant Ed: Dana Gornall
  • Ed: B. Bemel


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? Send to [email protected]


20 Responses to “The Dirty Truth About Cleansing. ~ Tova Payne”

  1. MsFrizzle says:

    Thank you for your very informational article. I wish more people would realize the effects of cleanses on their metabolism and how cleansing may be a self-defeating action for the goals they desire.

  2. Tova says:

    Thanks MsFrizzle 🙂
    Thanks for your comment.
    Yes, you can cleanse and get radical results without being so radical in food restraint! I believe there is always a healthy sustainable way to really live a wholesome healthy life, and daily consistent healthy action is what it's all about 🙂
    Tova 🙂

  3. Ashley says:

    Right on – so happy to see this. I have been seeing a lot of people on facebook and instagram who are juicing/cleansing fanatics and completely engrossed in only the body image aspect of health and wellness. It's unfortunate that the underlying message of holistic healing and self-love is being missed altogether and the focus has shifted to body weight and size. Articles like this are refreshing to see and so necessary. Thank you!

  4. Veerasana says:

    I disagree with her definition of the word cleansing. To me it means scheduled maintenance for my body. If I buy a car and never take it in for servicing eventually it's gonna break down. Same goes for my body. Doing an overnight liver cleanse has nothing to do with dieting and everything to do with cleaning out the gunk which can eventually lead to disease and even death. Period.

  5. Sing it sister! As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I have seen people really damage their bodies by these fad cleanses and diets. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the master cleanse especially is dangerous because it is very heating, and can cause a slew of problems that might not show up right away, but symptoms often can manifest weeks or months after. Especially if someone is Pitta dominant and already experiencing excessive heat in the body. The problem with most of these "deep cleanse" diets is that they are not suited for each persons unique constitution. It is better to know what your unique body needs specifically instead of jumping on whatever cleanse is most popular. I am not opposed to cleansing by any means. For instance, I recommend a gentle Kitchari cleanse for many of my patients. (see recipe on my website~ However I often vary the recipe and length of cleanse depending on each patients needs.

  6. Ashley says:

    I think she is referring to the people who use cleanses as a means for quick-and-easy weight loss.

  7. debradeangelo says:

    Yes, yes, YES!!!

  8. Tova says:

    Thanks Ashley 🙂

  9. Tova says:

    Right on Veerasana! If your intention is to clear out your liver and intentionally drink some extra beet and green juice(or whatever it is you choose to do), that is a healthy, intentional way to promote health.
    It really all comes down to intention, and being mindful of what is truly healthy for your whole-being, as opposed to just your looks.

  10. Tova says:

    Thanks Debra!

  11. MatBoy says:

    The word 'cleansing' implies that you have something unhealthy or unclean in your body, that by cleansing you will somehow become a cleaner, and thereby, a better person. Instead of addressing any self-image deficiencies, one suffers through a fasting cleanse; this reminds me of saying penance after confession to a catholic priest.

    I have not seen ANY scientific evidence or research related to the efficacy of these cleanses and almost everyone I know who goes on these fasts return to their old habits immediately after ending their cleanse. I wonder if Sister Theresa did cleanses. Does one really have to be clean to lead a good life committed to service to others?

  12. Katie says:

    I completely agree with you that "cleansing" is the new quick fix diet, and unless people begin to educate themselves on how to take care of their body *daily*, they'll keep finding themselves in the up-and-down, cleanse-and-crash cycle.

    Thanks for calling this out and being part of that education!

  13. Bryan says:

    Right on. I'd like to point out that even people doing it for "spiritual" reasons are often messing up their body as well – that's what I did. I loved the high and deep mditations it gave me, not realizing how much it had messed me up until I studied Ayurveda. While Ayurveda provides more nuanced protocols for a persons body type , even their cleansing regimens should be practiced under a bonafide Ayurvedic Physician and not these self proclaimed Ayurvedic "practitioners" we have popping up here in the west on an ever increasing basis. The educational standards for Ayurveda are very poor compared to what the World Health Organization recommends. Be careful people.

  14. Tomasz Goetel [Hot Yoga] says:

    A very useful read! Food for thought (pun intended). 🙂 Thank you.

  15. Tova says:

    Thanks Tomasz!

  16. YesuDas says:

    Whenever someone ends a comment with "Period," it is clear to me that they're not really trying to have a conversation. It comes off as exceedingly arrogant.

  17. Lurkitty says:

    Thank you for finally telling it like it is. "Cleansing" really doesn't cleanse anything. We are NOT carrying "ten pounds of waste" in our intestines. Our bodies are far more efficient than that. Even if we were, a juice fast and coffee enema isn't going to remove it. These crash diets can be hazardous for people who have diabetes or even low blood sugar. Real change comes from working at it slowly and steadily.

  18. Harmony says:

    Another issue about cleansing…not just the master cleanse, but also products such as zeolites, is that this will flush medications out of your body very effectively. Someone I know who is diagnosed bipolar had an extreme psychotic episode 2 days after starting the master cleanse, because she did not realize the cleanse would render her bipolar medications ineffective. Someone else I know started a cleansing program with zeolites, and two days later went into atrial fibrillation and ended up in the hospital, because the zeolites cleansed her heart, diabetes, and blood pressure medications out of her system.

  19. Tova says:

    Wow Harmony. Thanks for sharing that! One more reason to always check with a physician before embarking upon a dietary change. I think it's common to overlook the power of herbal supplements and food to deeply impact our physical health – and not always for the better! Thanks for posting this and opening awareness.

  20. Pop Schlepp says:

    The liver controls EVERYTHING in your body. Coffee enemas stimulate nerves in the colon to make the liver release toxins.