Weekly Q&A: Do cleanses & detoxes really work? (plus a 5-day REset program)

January 1, 2014



My question is do juice cleanses and detoxes really work? If so, what do they do and which cleanse would you recommend?

Anita, Langley BC


Good timing on this question considering we are in the throws of a new year and that is generally the time many choose a detox or cleanse to purge their system from a season of overindulgence.

Yes, detoxes and cleanses do work but I suppose it depends on what you are trying to achieve.


What are the differences between the two?
A detox is a more targeted to remove an unwanted (and specific) waste product or substance from the body such as exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, overindulgence in alcohol, use of certain medications, etc.

A cleanse provides more general support for the organs of detoxification, including the colon, liver, and kidneys, without a specific target for removal from the body.

Like many of us in the wellness industry, I believe detoxes/cleanses are are both the same and ideally, when I detox/cleanse, my aim is provide improvement for the whole body and this is through improving digestion.

Here’s the thing – the root cause of most disease is through the stomach. With the toxic overload and physical aggravation our stomachs go through during our lifetime, it eventually leads to decreased absorption of nutrients and increase formation of toxins which further aggravate and overload the liver/gallbladder and lymphatic system. As a result, diseases may develop. Yikes!

What is the formula for optimal health?

When should you do a detox/cleanse?
Traditionally, a detox/cleanse is done during the spring and fall/winter. However, a good reset to the system to achieve this formula can be done at any time when you are faced with any or all of the following symptoms:

– low energy
– digestive issues
– reoccurring illnesses
– acne and other skin ailments such as psoriasis
– irregular bowel movements

How long should you do a detox/cleanse?
The longer, the better. However, I aim for about 5-7 days as I generally eat very clean and very green. For those that really need to flush, up to 14- 30 days can result in awesome benefits.

What kind of detox/cleanse should I be doing?
This is the key question and it really can be personalized for each individual person.

Juice cleanses are very popular but it may not be the most cost effective.  You can do a juice cleanse in combination with smoothies. Or, some cleanses utilize a supplement program such as Wild Rose or CleanseSMART, both herbal products that I recommend. Or, you can use a combination of both a meal cleanse and a supplement program.

I personally believe in the elimination detox/cleanse focusing on green smoothies for breakfast/lunch/snacks and one lean/green meal per day. This is coupled with a regiment of self-care practices, exercise and proper food combining.  Here is the layout:


Elimination of the following “non-foods*”:
Refined sugar, chocolate, coffee/tea, alcohol
(*non-foods are stimulants that provide no nutritional value)

Elimination of the following typical allergens:
Wheat/gluten, dairy
You may also want to consider removing grains for the first portion of the program

Incorporate the following into your daily regime:

1) The 5 Day REset Plan (below)

2) Add a daily probiotic to provide good bacteria for improved gut health OR eat a fermented product daily such as sauerkraut.

3) Daily Self Care Rituals aim to help the detoxification process.  Here they are:

Self Care Rituals


~ The MORNING DRINK stimulates digestion and alkalises the body.
~ EXERCISE is important for proper bowel movements and it helps stimulate the lymphatic system.
~ DRY BRUSHING helps to exfoliate and tone the skin and improves circulation. How to here.
~ OIL PULLING has a multitude of benefits included pulling toxins from the mouth, improving sinus issues and whitens teeth.  How to here.
~ PROPER FOOD COMBINING supports the digestive process and it allows the body to absorb the nutrients more effectively. How to here.
~ EPSOM SALT BATH helps with detoxification of the body.  It also adds a hit of magnesium to your system. How to here.
~ EXFOLIATE the skin helps to remove dead skin cells.


Now what about the food?

Below you will find the recipe for my Glowing Green Smoothie which is the base of the REset.  In addition, three smoothie recipes to enjoy for lunch (or dinner if you choose to stick to a smoothie detox/cleanse).  I add new smoothies each week on the Eat Life Balance site, so keep checking back if you are looking for more inspiration.

Download (PDF, 185KB)

For meals, I kept everything 80% vegetables and the rest a protein or grain. For example:

Sautéed vegetables w/ organic Tempeh (Yummly has some great recipes)
Sautéed vegetables w/ brown rice or quinoa.
An Ezekiel wrap with a thin layer of hummous and topped with vegetables. Grill in the oven for a healthy pizza.
Cabbage and Quinoa Salad.
Ayurvedic Cleansing Soup.


Will you join me for this 5-day REset Program?  I’ll be starting this upcoming Monday, January 6th and if you are on my Facebook page, I will be chronicling my ups (and downs) along the way!