Well-being has often been mixed up with diet trends. Hidden behind promises of feeling good in our bodies is frequently the damaging idea that we—especially women—are supposed to be thinner. As someone who writes about well-being, I’ve witnessed the ups and downs of the body positivity movement, the return of a skinny-bodied ideal dominating popular culture, and the constant shift between self-acceptance and the desire for change.

I’m glad we’ve collectively moved beyond the mid-2000s obsession with juicing cleanses. Back then, detoxes were no different (and possibly worse) than diets, associated with the idea of depriving ourselves until we binged on the very things we had been avoiding with great effort. For a long time, diets, cleanses, and detoxes were starvation and malnutrition disguised as “health,” always used to make women feel inadequate.

In 2023, we have a better understanding than before about falling for the juice cleanses of the past, and now we recognize that diet culture is not actually wellness: True wellness means living as your happiest, most genuine self in a body that feels clear, energized, and vibrant. Many brands focused on nutrient-dense food and products (like Sakara and Kroma Wellness) are redefining the terms “cleanse,” “reset,” and “detox” to be less restrictive and more holistic than what they represented a decade ago. According to Lisa Odenweller, CEO and Founder of Kroma Wellness, “Toxic cleanse culture is dead.” Kroma is just one of the brands focusing on cleansing that has emerged as a leader in the resetting space, backed by wellness celebrities like Melissa Wood-Tepperberg and Dr. Will Colesigning.

So, what does a cleanse entail in 2023? Do detoxes and cleanses still trigger outdated diet-culture alarms, or can they be a helpful part of a health regimen, considering that detoxification remains a vital function and responsibility of the body? We have delved into the new wave of cleanses to determine whether undergoing a cleanse is truly beneficial.

In this article
1 What is a “cleanse” in 2023?
2 What are the benefits of going on a cleanse?
3 Who is and is not a candidate for a cleanse?
4 Can I exercise while doing a cleanse?
5 How can I do a cleanse on my own?
6 How should I safely and effectively transition out of a cleanse?
7 Shop our favorite cleansing programs and products :

What is a “cleanse” in 2023?

“Cleanse” is a broad term. It’s important to be cautious as many companies still sell diet pills, detox teas, and juice cleanses that promise to “cleanse” and take advantage of the insecurities ingrained by diet culture, sometimes posing risks to the body. However, other health-conscious brands offer cleanses in the form of natural herbs and supplements to support the body’s natural detoxification system in a healthy way, or offer nutrient-rich foods and programs to supply the body with essential nutrients (such as superfoods, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, clean proteins, lots of fruits, and veggies) while gently promoting a break from foods that may exacerbate symptoms (like processed foods, caffeine, added toxins, alcohol).

The significant change is that instead of promoting restriction, these new “cleanses” focus on delivering vital nutrients. It’s a “thrive not deprive” mentality centered on nourishment, not depletion. Odenweller is optimistic about the evolving landscape of cleanses but acknowledges that many still seek quick fixes. Healthy cleanses aim to kickstart a healthy lifestyle to feel better in your body, rather than adopting a rapid weight loss approach before a big occasion or trip. However, along with this desire for quick transformation is a growing awareness of the foods we consume. As she emphasizes, future cleanses focus on top-notch ingredients, sustainable sourcing, and, ultimately, the impact of these foods on how we feel.

What are the benefits of going on a cleanse?

In the past, many viewed cleanses as a pseudo-wellness solution linked to fad or crash diets, often pursuing the same objective: weight loss. However, as many of us aim to move away from the fixation on body size and shape, our goals now revolve around how we feel. Odenweller enumerates the benefits one can expect from a reset:

Increased energy

Opting for foods that optimize blood sugar levels (like high fiber plants, healthy fats, and clean proteins) instead of relying on caffeinated beverages sustains our energy throughout the day and prevents the energy crashes associated with caffeine or simple carbohydrates. Including superfoods (such as high-quality matcha in Kroma’s 5 Day Reset or chlorophyll drops in Sakara’s Fresh Start Cleanse) can provide an extra energy boost.

Reduced inflammation

Inflammation is a significant concern in the wellness sphere today, stemming from various causes, and it’s crucial to understand that not all inflammation is harmful. However, many aim to address chronic, health-impacting inflammation through a cleanse since chronic inflammation can contribute to issues like menstrual irregularities, poor sleep, or cognitive fog. Your diet can either increase or decrease inflammation in your body. By “cleansing” with probiotic-rich foods, healthy fats, nuts, and antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, green tea, and dark chocolate, you can effectively reduce inflammation. Of course, for sustainable lower inflammation, you need to maintain a dietary shift long-term, but many find cleanses helpful in alleviating inflammation-related symptoms and kick-starting healthier habits.

Create new healthy habits

Another favored benefit: A cleanse offers an opportunity for self-exploration and introspection. “It helps you tune in to your body’s signals and understand them,” Odenweller explains. Allowing yourself a reset creates space to delve into the motivations behind your habits and behaviors, and discover which foods make you feel your best. And if weight loss is a goal, sustainable and healthy weight loss can be an additional outcome of a cleanse. Temporarily adopting certain habits can help you pinpoint which foods do and don’t make your body feel great, enabling you to adjust your daily nourishment and cultivate enduring habits. Remember, it’s wise to avoid any “cleanse” that can’t be maintained as a lifestyle, as it may not be the healthiest choice.

Who is and is not a candidate for a cleanse?

Since healthy cleanses emphasize nutrient-rich foods and avoid restriction or starvation, most individuals can benefit from a cleanse (with a few exceptions—more on that below). Odenweller points out signs that indicate you may benefit from a cleanse:

  • Weight gain or general bloating
  • Visible inflammation in the face or body
  • Inflammation in the joints
  • Slow digestion or bowel movement issues
  • Fatigue, mental fog, and difficulty concentrating
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Lack of motivation (to start healthy habits or break unhealthy ones)

Moreover, in addition to the positive habits that may develop from a cleanse, it enables emotional recalibration. “We live in such a fast-paced world that we frequently forget to pause and appreciate the present,” says Odenweller. A cleanse allows a moment to pause and reconnect with yourself. By being more mindful of your body, you have the chance to ask yourself: How am I feeling? Am I truly hungry or trying to fulfill another need?

For those who should avoid a cleanse, while there has been a shift in the language and messaging surrounding cleanses, individuals with an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies (like disordered eating, obsession with weight loss, etc.) are advised against pursuing a cleanse. Others who should refrain from a cleanse include those with diabetes, heart disease, pregnant or nursing individuals, or those on medication. It’s essential to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before embarking on a cleanse or altering your diet plan in any way.

Can I exercise while doing a cleanse?

In the past, detox programs were highly restrictive, making exercise an unsafe addition. Fast forward to 2023, cleanses are designed with exercise in mind, with users encouraged to incorporate physical activity into the program. Thankfully, today’s cleanses consider lifestyle factors, but it’s crucial to listen to your body and assess how you feel. If you naturally lean towards an active lifestyle, ensure you consume foods like lean proteins and healthy fats to support your physical endeavors. If a cleanse doesn’t advise on increasing protein and fats to aid your body during physical activity, or recommends refraining from exercise altogether, consider this a cause for concern.

How can I do a cleanse on my own?

Not all cleanse programs are accessible to everyone, and the more nutrient-rich options (the ones worth considering) tend to be on the higher end cost-wise. If you’re wondering how to create a reset experience to achieve similar benefits without the high price tag, you can simulate a cleanse on your own.

Use food as medicine

Prioritize a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to give your body the necessary nutrients. Incorporate more foods that support your body’s detox system like high-fiber foods (to maintain regular bowel movements), cruciferous vegetables (aiding in removing excess hormones), and green or dandelion leaf tea to support liver function. Experiment with superfoods listed that can boost energy levels, alleviate symptoms, and help you feel your best.

Avoid triggering foods, but don’t restrict or deprive

Try to steer clear of triggering foods such as processed foods, alcohol, added sugar, and possibly caffeine. If you’re working on alleviating symptoms, consider eliminating dairy or gluten (temporarily) to identify potential food sensitivities. However, remember to never restrict or deprive yourself. Nutrition should be about nourishing your body, not depriving it. Depleting your body of essential nutrients can lead to more negative than positive effects. Always listen to your body’s signals, as hunger is its way of communicating its needs to you.

Turn it into a lifestyle

Lastly, make “cleansing” a lifestyle by filling your diet with foods that support your body in feeling its best, but don’t shy away from enjoying an extra glass of champagne over the weekend or a slice of cake for dessert. Pleasure is a vital component of well-being, and the goal of nourishing your body most of the time is that occasional indulgences won’t have a significant impact. It’s never too late to begin, restart, or continue your wellness journey, no matter what that may entail.

How should I safely and effectively transition out of a cleanse?

After completing a cleanse, it’s essential to show self-compassion. Odenweller suggests gradually reintroducing foods you omitted during the cleanse—such as dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, and coffee—to avoid any adverse effects (e.g., severe energy drops or digestive issues). Always be mindful and observe how these foods affect you upon reintroduction. “In the days following your reset, opt for easily digestible foods packed with natural enzymes,” recommends Odenweller. Think fresh fruit, smoothies, bone broth, salads, and gluten-free grains. To manage cravings effectively, sources of healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, olive oil, and coconut) are crucial.

Lastly, the most significant takeaway from a cleanse is a shift in mindset. Odenweller emphasizes that instead of striving for a particular goal or weight, it’s more crucial to understand that food can be a form of self-respect for your body. “Naturally, you will make healthier choices that align with your health and well-being,” she states. Unlike past detoxes and crash diets, you’re better equipped to cultivate habits that support a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life.

Shop our favorite cleansing programs and products :

Kroma Wellness
The 5-Day Reset

Each day consists of 9 nutrient-rich, deliciously satiating meals and beverages that arrive to your door in convenient packets. Just add fruit and veggies of choice, protein, water for soups and smoothies, and plant-based nut milks for morning and afternoon lattes. You’ll also get magnesium, a hydrating elixir, and a supergreens elixir to drink every day, plus a jar of their viral “cookie butter.”

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Please consult a doctor or health professional before beginning any supplements or treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health goal. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.


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