The One Day Cleanse & Why You Don’t Need It

Everyone is looking for a quick fix. That one thing that is going to bring you success quickly, especially when it comes to weight loss and health. The one day cleanse often promises that participants will experience positive health effects.  

This post will explain what the one day cleanse is and its expected benefits. Also, this blog will address concerns with participating in the cleanse. Additionally, it will educate on how the human body is constantly “cleansing” itself and how a one day cleanse may not be necessary. Finally, this post will share how a person can support the natural process of cleansing.

What is a one day cleanse?

A one day cleanse is also often referred to as a “detox”. These one day cleanses or detoxes can be slightly different from one another. Most cleanses usually include the following (1):

  • Strict diet
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Water/Lemon Water
  • Tea

Many of these cleanses promise to “kick start your detoxification organs”. This is thought to help them remove toxins from the body in a more efficient manner. However, it is important to recognize that the detoxification organs are constantly removing toxins from the body. Therefore, a one day cleanse or detox is often unnecessary. More on that later in the blog.

These one day cleanses are often higher in cost and do not take the participant’s lifestyle into consideration. The participant will usually receive a menu to follow for that day or many days, depending on how long the cleanse may be. They are expected to follow that menu for “optimal results”. 

Expected Benefits of the One Day Cleanse

There are many benefits to consuming fruits and vegetables. They provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Although there are many benefits to consuming fruits and vegetables, there is limited research to support one day cleanses providing health benefits.

The companies, brands and influencers promoting one day cleanses do promise expected results of participating. Those expected benefits include: 

  • Improved hydration
  • Gives digestive system a chance to rest
  • Feeling of being refreshed and energized
  • Improvement in nutrition quality of the diet
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced bloating and food cravings
  • Removes the stress of making food decisions throughout the day
  • Weight loss
  • And more.

Our Body Cleanses Itself

There are many promises with the one day cleanse. However, the human body has a set of organs designed to help detox and cleanse toxins. These organs include the kidneys, liver and lungs.

Kidneys

The kidneys do a lot for the human body! They maintain fluid, pH and electrolyte balance, control blood pressure, excrete metabolic end products and foreign substances (often referred to as “toxins”) (2). Additionally, they assist in the production of enzymes and hormones (2).

In terms of one day cleanses, the main function to discuss is the excretion of metabolic end products and foreign substances (AKA waste). Waste products such as uric acid, creatinine, urea, drugs and environmental toxins exit our body through the urine (2). Our kidneys are in charge of urine formation. 

The kidneys are constantly removing the various waste products that enter the body. The kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood in a single day (3). They continue to filter the blood even when someone is not on a one day cleanse.

Liver

The liver also does a lot for the human body, with over 500 known functions (2). In terms of cleansing the body, the liver will take harmful substances and convert them into harmless substances or ensure those harmful substances will be removed from the body (4).

For example, the liver converts ammonia, a by-product of the metabolism of amino acids, to a substance called urea (4). Urea is much less toxic than ammonia (4). Urea then transports to the kidneys for excretion.

Lungs

Removal of toxins from the lungs takes place in the bronchial tubes (5). Cilia lines the bronchial tubes, looks like small hairs, and moves in the same way a wave in the ocean does (5).  The motion the cilia make carries mucus upward and either goes down the throat or is coughed up (5). 

The mucus is where the toxins lie (5). Dust, germs or anything else that has entered your lungs (that should not be there) lies within the sticky mucus. Once the mucus is down the throat or coughed up, the toxins are removed or enter the removal process.

Concerns of the One Day Cleanse

There are some concerns with the one day cleanse. Specifically the diet being low calorie and low protein, the increased concern for individuals with kidney disease and a possibility of increased nutrient loss if laxatives are involved. 

Low Calorie and Low Protein

One day cleanses tend to be low in calories. When trying to lose weight, most individuals are not eating enough food. Diet culture has made consumers believe “less is more”, therefore making people feel as though they need to eat less and exercise more.

The human body requires calories, or energy, to fuel basic functions. Functions include pumping our blood, helping us breathe and completing metabolic processes. When consuming low calorie long term, an individual may lose weight however, that weight loss is usually muscle and not fat. 

Muscle loss is not the goal. Our muscles help us complete daily chores, exercise and allow us to live independently. The goal with weight loss is to achieve fat loss and avoid muscle loss.

Additionally, one day cleanses (and multiple day cleanses) tend to be low in protein. Protein provides our bodies with amino acids to act as the building blocks of the human body. Humans should consume 0.8 grams protein per kilogram of body weight daily. 

Furthermore, when an individual is trying to lose weight the protein requirements may increase. The needs may increase to 1.0 to 1.2 grams per day to assist in combating muscle loss.

Take Caution with Kidney Disease

Additionally, individuals with kidney disease should be cautious with juice cleanses. Many juice cleanses are high in oxalate, a well known nephrotoxin (6). Juice cleanses are high in oxalate because of certain fruits and vegetables (6). 

In the American Journal of Medicine, a case report was done on an individual with stage three chronic kidney disease. This patient completed a 6-week juicing fast. He kept detailed food records of his juices and found he was consuming a daily average of 1,260 mg oxalate (6). 

After the 6-week fast, the patient required temporary hemodialysis to hopefully recover some kidney function (6). Luckily, he was able to recover some function but had a decrease in his glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by 14 mL/min (6). The GFR is a way to monitor how well the kidneys are working.

Increased Nutrient Loss with Laxatives

Some one day cleanses may include laxative use. In using laxatives, a person may lose more nutrients in the stool than necessary. These nutrients are specific to electrolytes and water, potentially resulting in electrolyte imbalances or dehydration.

How to Support a "Natural" Cleanse

There are many ways a person can assist their body in the daily cleanse:

  • Stay hydrated to assist the kidneys
  • Consume 2 servings of fruit daily
  • Consume 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily
  • Move your body
  • Meet daily fiber recommendations to maintain normal bowel movements 
  • Consume broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, green tea, garlic and onions as they have been noted to support detoxification pathways (7)
  • Eat adequate lean protein to maintain glutathione, a detoxification enzyme (7)
  • Limit alcohol and added sugar consumption
  • Take a daily multivitamin for any nutrient gaps in the diet
  • Quit smoking (8)
  • Be aware of harmful pollutants in the air (8)

Summary

Overall, a one day cleanse is a strict diet filled with fruits, vegetables, juices, water and tea. This diet has been promoted to help your detoxification organs remove toxins from the body more efficiently.

Although there are many expected benefits of the one day cleanse, the human body is already removing toxins and waste products every day. The kidneys, liver, colon, lungs and skin are our detoxification organs.

There are some concerns with participating in the one day cleanse. For example, the cleanse tends to be low in calories and protein. Additionally, it is a major area of concern for individuals with kidney disease. Also, this diet could potentially cause an increased loss of nutrients (if laxatives are involved). 

Finally, an individual can assist their body in the “natural” cleanse that occurs daily. Some options include staying hydrated, moving the body, limiting alcohol and quitting smoking. 

References

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