Cleansing diets are sweeping the nation. It is fashionable to ?juice fast? or use special detoxification (detox) kits to ?cleanse? the body. Cleansing diets promise to help you lose weight quickly, remove so-called toxins from your body, boost your metabolism, and some even promise spiritual enlightenment. However, cleansing diets can actually increase your body fat, while robbing you of lean mass. Here are four dangers of doing a cleanse.
Many cleanses involve eating high fiber foods or drinking juices and teas that increase bowel motility. In other words, they cause diarrhea, on purpose. This empties the intestines, creates immediate weight loss, and can very quickly cause dehydration.
The signs of dehydration include: dizziness, thirst, dry mouth, headache, and confusion. Additionally, it may cause an electrolyte imbalance that, if left uncorrected, can lead to heart problems and other organ damage. If dehydration becomes severe, signs include: sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever, no urination, and extreme thirst. In the event of serious dehydration, hospitalization is required. At that point, simply drinking more water will not fix the problem.
Dizziness from doing a cleanse is sort of a side effect of a side effect. If you?re working out more or using a sauna while detoxing to add benefit to the program, it can make you dizzy and affect your heart rate. When severely restricting food and drink intake, your blood sugar levels may become out of whack. A drop in your blood sugar level can cause extreme dizziness, as well as shakiness, sweating, and chills. A serious drop in blood sugar can even lead to coma or death.
Not ingesting enough calories in a day can also make you feel dizzy. Most nutritionists recommend not consuming any less than 1200 calories per day, even for a short period of time, when trying to lose weight. Restricting caloric intake beyond what your body requires to function will make it malfunction. Dizziness, light-headedness, and imbalance can be warning signs that you?re not eating enough.
3. Colon Damage
The colon (also known as large intestine) is an integral part of the body?s natural detoxification system. The liver, colon, and kidneys are a miraculous filtration system built right into the human body. The colon?s function is to flush toxic substances from the body before they have the opportunity to hang around and wreak havoc on your system. Not all cleansing diets involve colon cleansing per se, nor colonics (colon irrigation), but those that abuse this organ system can cause serious –in some cases life-threatening– damage.
A study published in The Journal of Family Practice in 2011 showed that colon cleansing products and colonics cause cramping, abdominal pain, fullness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, perianal irritation, soreness, and electrolyte imbalance. More disturbing was that they sometimes caused renal failure. Some herbal preparations reportedly caused liver toxicity. The study looked at outcomes from both colonics and laxatives, teas, powders, and capsules.
4. Muscle Loss
Severe caloric restrictions can push your body to go into starvation mode (also known as famine response). Your body becomes greedy for resources because it has been starved of them. This can mean different things depending on how long you?ve been going without enough calories and nutrients. Your metabolism may slow and make you gain weight faster when you begin eating normally again. Your body may burn through fat stores and being using lean muscle for energy.
Most cleansing diets do not include many sources of protein, if any at all. The lack of protein will prohibit building muscle mass. Combined with putting your body into starvation mode, you may lose muscle mass and have an even harder time building it back up in the gym. Unlike some of the other dangers presented, muscle loss will take significant time and effort to repair.