Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dietitian's Overview of a Detox Cleanse

What can a cleanse do for you? At WCS, we had to find out!

An original skeptic of detoxification processes like the popular BluePrintCleanse, Kat, an employee at WCS, decided to undertake the three day Renovation cleanse to see what all the fuss was about.

Kat is a healthy, active woman in her mid-20’s so there were no major concerns going into the cleanse. She did not consult with a doctor, but rather decided to approach the process carefully and check-in frequently with the health and wellness professionals available in our office. The goal of the cleanse was to discover if she truly felt healthier, energized, and toxin-free.

Although many decide to try cleansing as an attempt at quick weight loss, that is not the purpose of the BPC. This is an important distinction between BPC, and other well-known cleanses (Beyonce’s dramatically slimmed down physique post-MasterCleanse was certainly not an example of healthy, sustainable weight loss). The BluePrint mission promotes a balanced, healthful, and sustainable lifestyle. The founders claim that the juices are one way to feed your body with whole foods and natural produce to help maintain good health for life.

Based on Kat’s height, weight, age, and lifestyle, we calculated her protein needs at between 43 and 56 grams per day. The BPC Renovation cleanse falls far short of this number, clocking in at 15 g per day. Although this makes the cleanse an unrealistic long-term option, for three days, there is little harm in low protein intake (especially for a healthy, young woman).

The sugar content of the Renovation juices is quite high, but the sugars are all natural rather than artificially added.

The extraordinary amount of vitamins and minerals in the juice is the most positive part of the cleanse. Despite a relatively healthy lifestyle, Kat struggles to consume enough leafy greens and likely does not reach daily requirements for many important nutrients. During the cleanse, she received a big boost in antioxidants in addition to drinking far more water than usual. Even if these actions are not entirely sustained post-cleanse, her awareness of nutrient intake and optimal hydration levels can motivate her to incorporate these healthier behaviors into her daily routine.

Ultimately, there were no significant changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or glucose, but Kat's weight dropped by 5 lbs during the cleanse. Additionally, her waist measurement decreased by a full inch between the first and last day. These might sound like “vanity perks” but there is a benefit to them nonetheless - both physically and mentally.

One week post-cleanse, Kat reports that her weight is still down 3 lbs from her start weight and she is working hard to keep fruit and vegetable intake high and minimize red meat and carbohydrate consumption. Cleanses are not meant to continue long-term or serve as a means to quick weight loss. They can, however, act as a jump-start to healthier eating habits and rejuvenate the individual inside and out. Though there is a certain degree of willpower and “mind-over-matter” reasoning involved in abstaining from solid food for the duration of the cleanse, three days is a manageable amount of time to go without.

The science supporting cleanses is weak, so individuals should proceed with caution, however, Kat appears to have reaped the benefits of her Renovation Cleanse. She believes it helped her re-evaluate her personal attitude towards food and encouraged the concept of mindful eating for the long haul.

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