How-to Do a Cleanse | 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts to Know First

Do you struggle with headaches, skin rashes, or brain fog? Or maybe you’ve put on a few pounds, your skin is breaking out, or just aren’t feeling your best. These are some common signs that you need a cleanse. When your detoxification system gets overloaded by toxins and chemicals, it can leave you suffering from a number of annoying symptoms.

Unfortunately, not all cleanses are created equal.

In fact, it’s so easy to do a cleanse that leaves you fatigued, weak, craving sugar like a Cookie Monster, and putting your life and work on complete hold.

But here’s a secret: There’s a better way! In this blog, I’ll take you through the dos and don’ts of cleaning — so you never waste another minute on a cleanse that’s not going to give you REAL results.

Cleansing 101: Your liver, your gut, and your health

You might be wondering: Why do I need to cleanse in the first place? Well, despite the fact that your body is designed to process and eliminate toxins like a well-oiled machine, there are many factors in the modern world that can sabotage your natural detoxification processes.

For one, toxins are everywhere.

They’re found in everything from the water and the air to your makeup, the medications you take, and your household cleaning supplies. Researchers estimate that most people are exposed to approximately 100,000 chemicals in their lifetime. And every year, new chemicals are added to that list!

Add this all up and your toxin exposure can become way more than what your body was ever designed to face. Your liver, which is your main detox organ, can get overwhelmed and toxins can start to build up.

And when toxins start to build up, your health can start to break down.

Oftentimes, this happens little by little; in fact, many of my patients mistake the side effects of toxicity to those of aging. But aging doesn’t mean you need to feel like crap — and doing a detox is a perfect way to get you back to feeling your best.

The 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts of Cleansing

If you’re thinking about starting a cleanse, it’s important to remember there are a lot of different types of cleanses, and they’re not all the same. Some cleanses will promise you optimal health in just a few days, or claim that there’s a magical potion that will cure all your health woes. Some will have you severely restrict calories, not eat at all, or give up solid foods completely.

As a functional medicine doctor with years of experience guiding my patients through detoxification programs to get their health back on track, I can tell you none of these is the path to healthy, efficient cleansing. Over the years, I’ve gathered some cardinal dos and don’ts to follow when you’re ready to embark on a cleanse.

#1— Cleansing Do & Don’t

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#1—Don’t: Count calories instead of nutrientsTitle Goes Here

I know many of you learned growing up that the secret to weight loss is a simple “calories in versus calories out” equation. But the truth is, health and nutrition is much more nuanced than a simple equation, and not all calories are created equal.

Not to mention, the fundamental goal of detoxing isn’t necessarily weight loss. In fact, you could be underweight and still need to detox!

Oftentimes, my patients will experience weight loss as a side effect of a cleanse, but it’s not always the main goal. Cleanses should be about restriction, only drinking liquids, or being so fatigued that you feel like you might pass out! When a cleanse is founded upon obsessively count calories, it’s not really a cleanse — it’s a diet! Instead, a cleanse should actually focus on food quality more than quantity, which brings us to…

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#1—Do: Eliminate inflammatory foods

Drastically cutting calories isn’t what we’re aiming for on a cleanse. That said, eliminating certain ingredients — especially those that are known to sabotage your gut health and detoxification system — is key to successful detox. Ingredients such as sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine are known to contribute to the toxic overload on the body and stress the liver.

Eliminating these foods may seem like a challenge, and it can be at first! But here’s the great thing about eliminating inflammatory foods. Unlike when you eliminate food altogether and end up fatigued, foggy brained, or feeling low, when you eliminate foods like added sugar, packaged foods, and bread and dairy, you’ll feel an almost immediate surge of energy and mental clarity. And THAT is how you’re supposed to feel on a cleanse!

#2— Cleansing Do & Don’t

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#2—Don’t: Drink only juice

Ever done one of those juice cleanses and thought, “Honestly, this ‘green juice’ is delicious.” Well, take a look at the label and you’ll find there’s often a hidden ingredient in “green juice” — fruit juice. It could be apple, pineapple, or orange juice but regardless of the fruit, it can add so much sugar that it’s almost comparable to what’s in a soda. Yes, really! And I don’t see soda cleanses being advertised anywhere.

Fruit in its whole form is healthy, but fructose, the form of sugar found in fruit, is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and an excess can trigger candida, or yeast overgrowth, in the gut. This leads to increased sugar cravings and a desire for more fruit and also triggers insulin resistance by affecting how your liver communicates with your pancreas.

Now, the solution isn’t to remove all fruit. Instead, just opt for a handful of real fruit that contains plenty of fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar and allows you to get the benefits of fruit, like the antioxidants and polyphenols, without the high concentrations of sugar. If you do opt for a juice, make sure it’s contains veggies only — no fruit!

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#2—Do: Increase your protein intake

Many cleanses, especially those that involve juicing or going plant-based, can skimp on protein. This can leave you feeling weak, cranky, and fatigued. The reason why has everything to do with your main detox organ, your liver. Many cleanses drop the intake of protein so dramatically that it stalls Phase II of the liver detox pathways. If you’re not eating enough protein, you don’t have the amino acid substrates to power the slower, Phase II liver detox pathways, bringing them to a halt. This can lead to more toxicity, because Phase I enzymes usually produce intermediate reactive compounds that are more toxic than the original chemical, hormone or substance being detoxed.

Now, I’m not saying eat a bunch of eggs and bacon while you cleanse. Instead, a great solution is to opt for a hypoallergenic plant-based protein cleanse shake that helps to detox while providing the necessary amino acids.

#3— Cleansing Do & Don’t

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#3—Don’t: Ignore the gut microbiome

Many people think detoxification is all about the liver. And as we know, the liver is the main detox organ! That said, the gut and liver are intricately connected. For example, did you know that after the gut breaks down and absorbs what you eat, the liver converts food into energy and nutrients? Or that the liver gets 70 percent of its blood supply from the intestine via the portal vein, the blood vessel that carries blood from the gut and other organs to the liver?

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when cleansing is ignoring the community of 100 trillion bacteria living in their gut.

These bacteria help us make vitamins, short-chain fatty acids, and neurotransmitters that make us feel happy. They also help break down nutrients and regular our immune system, as well as regulate blood sugar and metabolic health. Your gut bacteria also help keep you regular, which allows you to eliminate toxins and prevent them from getting reabsorbed by the body and put back into circulation (Yes, this can happen!). By not paying attention to your gut microbiome, you’re missing out on a huge part of detoxification. The good news is that more and more cleanses are focusing on digestion and the gut microbiome as the center of health.

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#3—Do: Focus on healing leaky gut

Your gut lining is another important element of healthy detoxification. This one-cell-layer-thick lining is responsible for absorbing nutrients and keeping other harmful things — like large, partially-digested food particles, toxins, and pathogenic microbes — out of the bloodstream. In other words, it allows the good stuff in and keeps the bad stuff out. Unfortunately, factors like medications, alcohol, plastics, antibiotics, processed foods, and stress can lead to a leaky gut lining, which can allow toxins to slip through where they don’t belong and wreak havoc, causing chronic inflammation.

In order to cleanse and heal the rest of the body, you need to heal the gut lining.

Any cleanse worth your time and money will have targeted supplements, probiotics, herbs, and digestive enzymes that help you do just that.

If you take one thing away from this blog, I hope it’s to not settle for a cleanse that does anything less than guide you back to brilliant health, great energy levels, and sharp mental clarity. So many cleanses make promises they can’t keep!

I’ve been working for years to develop a cleanse program for my patients, and my HAPPY GUT® REBOOT: 28-Day Cleanse focuses on all of the “dos” above and avoids all the “don’ts.” My patients report feeling energized, clear headed, and many experience weight loss, a reduction in sugar cravings, a better mood, and clearer skin. The benefits of cleaning are really endless — but it’s important to be discerning about which one you choose.

Here’s what people are saying about the HAPPY GUT® REBOOT:

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“About a year ago my digestion suddenly changed for the worse and I would regularly have floating stools, horrible nausea, and a dull pain in my upper left abdomen. Almost anything I would eat would trigger these symptoms.
However, I am pleased to say that after following your diet in the book for a couple of months I am feeling much much better. My digestive system is better than it has been in years. The pain seems to have gone as well. My energy is improving as well.”

~ David
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“Currently on Day 6 of [the] Happy Gut [Reboot]! Loving the app! So far it already feels like I have reduced inflammation and my mood and energy is up!!”

~ Shelley
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“I have to be honest I was not a hundred percent sold on an elimination diet, but after completing yours, I was amazed not only with how I felt afterwards, but I LOST 10 pounds!!!”

~ Wendy
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“I started Dr. Pedre’s Happy Gut program on July 31st, 2017, and by Aug 31st, I had lost 12 lbs and gone down 2 clothing sizes. But that wasn’t the best part, after 30 days on this program, I got my life back. I was once again the person I knew I could be; clear thinking, energetic, balanced, ache-free…and best of all, back in control of who I am. I seriously cannot say enough about this book and program. It works. Period. In fact it worked so well, I’ve continued on with it (well over 2 months now) and, at 50 years old, I have NEVER felt better, mind and body, in my entire life.”

~ Jean Louise

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