Learn About Cleansing

As a Family and Integrative Medicine physician, Dr. Gater often has patients ask whether they should cleanse or detoxify their bodies and how often.  For those of us who don’t always eat “clean-whole-raw-grassfed-organic-super” foods, who have recently partaken in fast food, who indulged in too much holiday “cheer”, or those of us who don’t have regular bowel movements, are looking to shed a few pounds or start a healthier lifestyle then a cleanse is a great option. 


 Well, that’s a good question.   There are two main reasons to cleanse- periodic health maintenance and detoxification.  Even though your body may be a lean, well oiled machine, just like a vehicle it benefits from a tune up every so often.  Cleansing every 90 days can be beneficial to health maintenance.  Taking a cue from Ayruvedic medicine, Dr. Gater often recommends cleansing with the change of seasons (especially summer to fall and winter to spring) to my patients.   Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “life knowledge” and is a 5,000 year old system of healing that is rooted in the Vedic culture of India.  This ancient medicinal practice focuses on inner balance.  To restore and maintain balance, seasonal cleansing, purification, and renewal process is encouraged.  The focus of seasonal detoxification is to release physical and emotional toxicities that have accumulated, allowing the mind-body to return to a natural state of balance and health.

The second most common reason for cleansing is detoxification.  A detoxification cleanse is useful after you’ve had one too many shots of liquor, triple cheeseburgers or double mocha lattes chased with whipped cream.  Clearly, you need to hit the reset button.  Cleansing helps to overhaul your system to heal and nourish it from the inside out.  Listen to your body, it will tell you if need to cleanse—excessive fatigue, headaches, stomach bloating, and difficulty concentration and skin rashes.

Who shouldn’t cleanse?  If you are pregnant, nursing, or have chronic kidney or liver disease then a juice cleanse is not appropriate for you.  If you have other medical issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease then Dr. Gater recommends scheduling an appointment with a physician before a cleanse.  Food and herbs are powerful medicines and many ingredients in a cleanse may have properties or interfere with medicines similar to what you are taking.  For example, parsley is a powerful diuretic (promotes urination) if you are on a “water pill” such as HCTZ or Lasix, you will likely want to avoid or limit your parsley intake.


A juice cleanse can be a healthy way to drop a few pounds. The goal of the juice cleanse is not only to detoxify from chemical additives, hormones, antibiotics but to help get you off of the addictive unhealthy carbohydrate cycle.  After completing the juice cleanse, you are less likely to return to your old eating habits and thus more likely to keep the weight off. Dr. Gater's hope is that you feel the benefits of the cleanse and are empowered to make a healthy lifestyle change that includes 7-9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

The question often gets asked, “Is the weight loss just water?”  Even though you may notice increased urination while on the cleanse, the weight lost is not due to diuresis. Drinking at least half your weight in fluid helps to flush out toxins. The weight that is lost is from the extra energy your body expends converting fat stores to a usable form of body fuel.  Losing weight is not magic or rocket science.  Calories eaten – Calories burned = weight loss or weight gained.  The challenge lies in that you must burn 3500 calories more than you eat to lose just 1 pound.  Many people have trouble losing weight due to a slow basal metabolic rate also known as metabolism. The slower your metabolism the more you need to exercise and boost your BMR in order to notice consistent weight loss.  How incredibly unjust!  It’s way easier to over indulge and pack in 3500 extra calories than to cut back and work out like a maniac to burn 3500 calories.  Weight loss from a cleanse occurs as a combination of decreasing calorie intake, improving digestion and eliminating stored waste.


The cleanse combination that Dr. Gater has put together takes advantage of the medicinal and healing properties of foods and herbs.  The ingredients were specifically formulated not only for flavor but also to aid your body’s natural detoxification process.  The fiber based cleanse system utlizes psyllium (insoluble fiber) with pectin (soluble fiber) for maximum elimination of toxins.  As a bonus, the herbal cleanse supplement contains senna for gentle elimination, silymarin (milk thistle) and B vitamins for liver detoxification, cranberry power to cleanse the kidney.  A probiotic specific for the GI tract that contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium is also included.  Following a 10 day fiber cleanse, a daily nutritional greens drink helps to replenish vitamins and minerals that may have been lost in the detox process.  The herbal tea based cleanse uses herbs such as milk thistle to cleanse the liver, papya, chammomile and ginger to cleanse the digestive system, and Chinese mallow to detox the respiratory system.  It is followed by a whole food liquid vitamin supplement to replace key minerals and nutrients that are often lost in the detox process.

Dr. Gater recommends this cleanse because of taste, ease, cost and convenience. No starvation or feeling faint from juice only cleanses.  Dr. Gater's cleanse combines eating "lean and clean" with food guidelines and recipes during the 10 day cleanse phase.   


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