But it’s not that simple. The normal intestinal tract is teeming with bacteria. While dietary changes, medications, and even exposure to other people (and pets!) can change your intestinal flora, scientific reality dictates that you can’t “cleanse” your body through diet or “detoxify” your colon. It’s not even clear what toxin or toxins a cleanse is supposed to remove, or whether this actually happens.

There’s a stark contrast between powerful claims made by those promoting various cleanses and the scant evidence that they do anything good for your health. Searching the medical literature for “detox diets” or “cleanse diets” yields almost no relevant, high-quality medical evidence demonstrating health benefits. For example:

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What’s being cleansed in a detox cleanse?

3-Day Detox Cleanse for Weight Loss and Flat Belly at Home

Some ads promise specifics, such as “strengthening the liver, blood, and colon.” What? There are claims about increased sex drive, better mood, and fewer cravings for junk food. According to the ads, the number of ways a cleanse can help seems endless.

Let’s start with the name.

Still, given the lack of evidence supporting their use, the risks associated with their use (even if small), and their lack of regulation, it’s hard for me to be enthusiastic about the use of detox diets or cleanses. If you’re concerned about toxins in your body, I say choose a healthy diet and avoid pollution, pesticides, and other harmful substances as best you can. Leave the detoxification to the professionals: your kidneys, liver, and other self-cleaning organs of your body.

Could a cleanse be potentially harmful?

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