Cleansing and Detox Diets

  • Author: Beth W. Orenstein
  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Can your body cleanse itself?

Glassman says it's not necessary to go on a special diet to "clean" your digestive system. "Our bodies are natural systems built to detox all the time," she says. "Our liver, skin, urinary system, and gastrointestinal tract are constantly helping to cleanse our bodies through sweat, urine and feces."

Eating a diet high in fiber, drinking lots of water, and avoiding packaged and processed foods are major ways to keep your body working optimally. "Such a diet will ensure that your body is cleansing as naturally as it can," Glassman says.

What is a modified cleansing diet?

Glassman never recommends that anyone go on an extreme (all liquid) cleanse diet, especially not for an extended period of time. However, she says a modified version may help you reboot your system, especially if you overindulged on vacation or have gotten into a fast-food rut.

In her book, The New You and Improved Diet, Glassman recommends a four-day regimen that some people may find helpful. It consists of eight foods:

  • artichokes,
  • avocados,
  • eggs,
  • granny smith apples,
  • lentils,
  • olive oil,
  • salmon, and
  • spinach.

"I chose these foods because as a group they offer healthy fat, protein, fiber, and water volume. Plus they're loaded with antioxidants," she says.

Glassman says eating only these foods for three or four days will help you feel better. That timeframe also can be enough to "set up new healthy behaviors," she says.

Making healthy food choices will help you feel better. "Feeling physically and mentally better will help motivate you to stick with [it] for three to four days," Glassman says. "It also may motivate you to continue to incorporate the healthy habits you learn into your daily life."

Medically reviewed by a Board-Certified Family Practice Physician


Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, LDN, Nutrition CheckUp in Pittsburgh.

Mayo Clinic: "Do Detox Diets Offer Any Health Benefits?"

Freund, G., Obesity, June 2011.

Keri Glassman, RD, CDN, A Nutritious Life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2015

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