As people look to get in shape for the upcoming season, they’ll do just about anything to look and feel better. For some that means embarking on a detox diet or cleansing protocol. From drinking green smoothies to performing coffee enemas, there are a number of cleanses out there, not to mention a variety of commercially prepared herbal kits. With all these possibilities available, are detox cleanses really safe and effective?

Why Cleanse?

The whole premise behind cleansing is to rid the body of accumulated toxins. Most of us don’t live in a pristine environment of clean air and pure water. Nor do many of us eat 100% fresh organic food all of the time. Most of us engage in unhealthy eating practices including too much fat and sugar in our diets, not to mention things like drinking too much alcohol or smoking cigarettes.

Then there are the other toxins we are exposed to in our daily lives: heavy metals and chemical additives found in health and beauty products, clothing, furniture, automobiles—the list goes on and on. It seems as if everything we come in contact with is potentially toxic.

Cleansing can help jump-start our bodies to clear out those harmful substances while providing an energy boost.

Our bodies do the best they can to expel the toxins from all these substances, but the fear is that we can become overloaded. And if that happens, our bodies work less efficiently, which can lead to illness. Cleansing can help jump-start our bodies to clear out those harmful substances while providing an energy boost.

Are They Safe and Effective?

Chances are you’ve heard many celebrities extolling the virtues of cleanses to help them slim down and stay healthy. But are these detox methods safe and effective? A lot depends on whom you ask. According to several MD’s, there is little evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of many detox cleanses.

According to Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist, she sees detox cleanses and diets as another “craze” designed to sell kits and products, while ignoring the virtues of a healthy balanced diet. Dr. Frank Sacks from the Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes that the human body’s own internal organs and immune system is capable of excreting any toxins without the need for any added detox formula. And most in the medical profession will warn you that detoxes are not safe for children, teens or those who have health conditions.

Yet there are others who believe that detox cleanses have a great deal of value. Dr. Mehmet Oz of the famous Dr. Oz Show, has said that detox cleanses make sense if you can do them safely. In fact he has covered the topic on his show and come up with some of his own cleanses. The key is to eat certain nutrient rich foods.

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

So when it comes to detoxing, you’ll get mixed reviews on whether it’s safe and effective. The bottom line is to be safe and sane and play it smart. Before trying any cleanse it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider.

If you decide to go ahead, go slow and be sure to listen to your body. Don’t attempt an extremely restrictive weeklong detox if this is your first time cleansing or if it’s been awhile since your last cleanse. If at any time you have severe cleansing reactions then gently stop.

Perhaps the best detox cleanse of all is to clean up your diet. If you’ve been eating processed foods or an overabundance of sugar and caffeine, start by eliminating the bad foods. Substitute fresh organic fruits and vegetables for fast food and frozen dinners. Doing that alone for a week or so will get your body’s natural detox systems functioning well again.

When it comes to detox cleanses, there are a variety of opinions about safety and effectiveness. The best advice is to do your research and take responsibility for your own body.