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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?


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After a Jewish holiday filled with food, I always come away feeling like I need some sort of cleanse.  I need to rescue my body from all the meat and challah or this week, all the matzo!  But what do people mean when they say they are on a cleanse?

It turns out they can mean quite a few different things.  The most common type of cleanse is a colon cleanse.  This can be done at home with over the counter pills that will require you to be near a bathroom at all times.  A cleanse can also include a trip to medical professional to do things I don’t think I can get myself to write out in a respectable food website, but let’s just say will irrigate your body.  Both hope to rid your body of harmful toxins.

The theory is that meats and other foods leave behind toxins in the colon and the build up can cause fatigue, headaches, weight gain and/or low energy.  There is no medical consensus on this theory and many doctors and health experts believe our bodies can do a fine job clearing out toxins on their own.  Although there are no shortage of anecdotal stories of people who swear by the occasional cleanse, I can’t try something so unappealing unless I know there is a real benefit.

The other common cleanse is really more of a fast or cleanse diet.   Some might fast completely, others might just drink water or a specially blended juice drink filled with a blend of fruits, vegetables and herbs touted to give you more energy and detoxify your body.

While I do believe this type of cleanse can help by reminding you what it feels like to be hungry and shrinking your stomach after the overindulgences of the Jewish holiday season,  there is no real evidence that these methods have any lasting effects.  Most dietitians recommend cutting back calories, eating less than you did over the holiday and paying attention to your hunger signs again.

Have you ever tried a cleanse?   Share your experience with us below.

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD


Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!




One Response to To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

  1. So I once went to a place in the city — this is going back a decade at least — to discuss a colon cleanse. Let’s just say the forms they wanted me to sign, the painful side effects they said to expect and the fact that one example of their success was the removal of a plastic toy from a 20+ person’s body that he claimed to have ingested when he was 2 — all combined to scare me enough not to schedule the appointment. I always dream of doing a 7 to 10 day juice fast (lemon juice, cayenne pepper and pure maple syrup) but then I think it’s really irresponsible of me to lay around on the couch for a week like a tired vegetable when I have a family to take care of and deadlines looming. So instead I am committing to AT LEAST 8 cups of water everyday for the next week — and we’ll see where that takes me.

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