The Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse (Which One is Right for You?)


Mike Jones, contributor to

The world has become dirtier over the ages. With the high level of pollution levels, it is inevitable that at one time or the other, you will find your body reacting to the poisons in food, water, and air. Whether you become ill or just sluggish from the dirt around and in you, it is important to give your body a new lease of life from these threats to your health.

Two words are bandied about in health circles; detox and cleanse. Many people use them interchangeably, but in truth, they differ in the parts of the body where each takes place. The first thing you need to be aware of is that the body has its own system of purifying itself. However, its efforts are not enough, which is why you need to learn how to naturally detoxify your body. Various organs are tasked with removing toxins from the body.

The Cleansing Journey

Cleansing is associated with keeping the gut healthy. The digestive system is the route through which the body gets its nutrients. If it gets unhealthy, it becomes slow in carrying out its functions. A pile-up of waste in the gut can turn toxic, leading to discomfort and illness. One of the signs of an unhealthy gut is bloating. This is because of the build-up of gas when the body does not get rid of waste as it should. The food then begins to decompose. Food should be organic and just as pure as nature intended.

The digestive tract also has beneficial and harmful bacteria. If the balance of these bacteria is upset, it leads to problems. The most basic form of cleansing is purging where a laxative is taken in order to remove fecal matter, parasites, and any other unwanted stuff. However, the problem with this approach is that it is non-selective and clears out the good with the bad. It could also be dangerous as you could lose excess water during the process, which will leave you dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water is one of the ways the body gets rid of harmful substances.

Marie Spano, a dietician and vice president of the international society of sports nutrition, says that exercise and quality sleep play a key role in helping your cleansing program work for you.

A good approach to cleansing is to carry out the process by healing the gut by taking care of what goes into it. Junk food is so called because it does not provide the nutrients that your body needs. Instead, it tends to mess up the digestive system by clogging it up. Foods containing gluten, soy, sugar, dairy, and caffeine should be eliminated and replaced with organic alternatives that have not been processed and additives

The cleaning process is not complete just with clearing the digestive tract of waste. It must be healed by providing healthy food that assists the gut work at its best. This includes nutritious food that has enough fiber and that which will help restore the healthy levels of organisms like good bacteria in the gut. Natural drinks such as probiotic unflavored yogurt help too.

Sara Welle of Minneapolis Running talks about the benefits she got from her cleansing regime as an athlete. For you to begin the cleansing program, you have to go through a pre-cleanse phase where you have to cut out on alcohol and various unhealthy foods. The initial days of her program were uncomfortable. However, as the body adjusted and started functioning better, she found that her energy levels were much higher.

The Detox Route

Detox is another way of ridding the body of harmful substances. Normally, the body gets rid of toxins through the skin, liver, and kidneys. Detox is supposed to strengthen the efforts of these organs. So, what toxins does the process target? For one, the air you breathe in is full of chemicals that find their way into your body where they lodge and cause discomfort. A lot of food too contains chemicals like pesticides, preservatives, and flavors. Meat should be avoided during this period.

Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the celebrities for whom detox worked. It is spread over a 21-day period. The doctor who designed it calls it The Clean Program. He advocates for a diet of shakes, clean meals, and supplements to rid the body of toxins. Most of his patients report of weight loss after the program.

Your skin too is treated to a cocktail of toxins that are found on the creams lotions and other cosmetics you apply. The organs concerned with detoxifying sometimes get overwhelmed. Foods like lemon, garlic, kale, pineapple, and ginger can help to detox. You should discuss these with a nutritionist as some can have adverse effects. Garlic, for example, thins the blood and could endanger those whose blood does not clot easily. Food supplements too, assist the kidneys and liver improve their functioning.


If you are always suffering from irritated bowels, consider cleansing. The need for detox is usually indicated when you are fatigued and suffer from headaches, depression, and anxiety. You should follow a cleansing program as it has long-term, even life-long impact. Detox is usually a shorter-term program that returns your body on track once toxins have piled up.


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