What Is The Difference Between A Detox Diet and a Cleanse?

What Is The Difference Between A Detox Diet and a Cleanse?

Detox diets…body cleanses…colon cleanses…bowel cleanses…Are They Even Safe?

You’ve probably heard all of these terms used in reference to “ridding your system of unhealthy toxins” -- but what do these terms actually mean?

Do you really need to be on a ‘detox diet’ or ‘cleansing’ your body?

Are programs and products marketed as detoxes and cleanses even safe to do?

To start us off, all of these terms get a LOT of hype in the media, and people tend to use various terms interchangeably, which makes it especially confusing for consumers.

You may have tried a detox, or a cleanse. Maybe you noticed improvements, maybe you didn’t feel well at all. So let’s dive in and start off with this key question.

What IS the difference between a Detox Diet and a Cleanse?

Generally, both detoxes and cleanses are methods that people use to clear or flush toxins out of their body.

But, there are some important differences...

Detox Diet:

Requires you to be on a very restrictive diet that only allows you to consume a small selection of food. Food that some consider to be “detox foods”, and usually for a specified amount of time, often several days to even several weeks.

Some detox diets actually involve fasting for a period of time. As a result, your body might not get the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly, and your energy level could be negatively impacted - sometimes dramatically, and can even be accompanied by “detox flu” symptoms.


Typically involves consuming some sort of herbal or supplement product (pills, powders, tinctures) intended to flush out your digestive tract - namely the large colon or bowel.

What you must understand is that these products could cause undesirable side effects, and may  contain chemicals that might not be healthy or safe, thus defeating the purpose of performing a “body or bowel cleanse” in the first place.

Some cleanses also involve being on a restrictive diet for at least a short period of time - usually the number of days that the cleanse supplements have been recommended for.

Why do people feel they need to ‘cleanse’ their body anyway?

Besides getting rid of an over-accumulation of toxins in their system (known or suspected), there are other reasons why people may wish to try detox diets and cleanses, including the following:

  • They want to lose weight and look/feel slimmer & healthier

  • They think it will make them healthier, i.e. there may be a perceived “health halo” that accompanies a cleanse program or product

  • They went on a vacation and didn’t eat healthy OR they’re planning on going on a vacation and want to detox before they tox ;)

  • The holiday season is full of indulgent foods, sweets and drinks, and they feel like they need a reset.

Many people don’t realize that our system can remove its own waste naturally. In fact, the body is cleverly designed to do just that.

Our body has its own built-in detox system that works on its own every day. One of the main functions of the liver is to remove toxins from our blood.

Tips to help you naturally support your body’s own detoxification processes:

Here are things you can be doing day-to-day and year-round:

  1. EXERCISE & SWEAT REGULARLY. This not only helps you manage your weight but it also gets rid of toxins while you are sweating.

  2. DRINK FILTERED WATER. Water helps flush out and cleanse your system. Add some fresh fruit or veggies to enhance the flavour of plain, filtered water.

  3. EAT GOOD FATS. Ditch the processed and refined fats, and instead, consume healthier “good fats” such as olives & olive oil, raw nuts & seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.

  4. UP THE FIBRE. Fibre helps to move toxins and waste that have built up in your system through your system naturally - think of fibre like stiff bristled broom for your digestive system!

  5. BE A SAVVY LABEL READER. If you don’t recognize the ingredients on the label, then you might not want to eat that food - because they’re probably NOT food! There could be a chemical that results in negative side effects, and these chemicals are additional toxins that are entering your body.

  6. REDUCE YOUR TOXIC LOAD. Consume organic and non-GMO food. They don’t contain chemicals and other poisons that contribute to the overall toxin load on your body.

    You can also make the switch to more natural bath & beauty products in your daily routine, as well as natural, chemical-free cleaning products for your household. Your skin is amazing at absorbing much of what you put on it, so be sure to give it good stuff only!

Giving our bodies a break after overindulging can be an opportunity to reset. But don’t feel like you need to starve yourself, or push your body to extremes. There are ways to give your body a gentle cleanse and detox without starving yourself or punishing your body.

Doing a detox is a chance for you to ‘quit sugar’ or a chance for you to get over some bad nutrition habits. Often it’s nice to follow a plan for a few days so you don’t have to think about what to eat. BUT detoxes and cleanses should usually be short, and should not restrict nutrients.

So where does that leave you?

If you do want to do a cleanse or a detox, make sure you are working with a health professional to help guide you in choosing the best one for you.

Do you want to try a short, easy, yummy detox that will not leave you hungry? I have an easy 10 Day Detox that is a favorite of my clients.

Check it out here:

Related Reading:

My Epic 24 Hour Detox

5 Reasons Why You Should Detox

How To Make It Through A Cleanse With Ease

Gaylene Gomez, NNCP, C.H.N.

A little bit about me! I'm Gaylene, a Holistic Nutrition Coach for women. I work with busy, professional women to help them learn about healthy, simple lifestyle changes they can easily implement to reduce belly bloat, lose weight and get through their day with sustained energy. My clients are committed to their health and excited to learn about healthy eating and natural living. I feel proud of them for taking charge of their health and I'm so lucky to work with these amazing women. 

Learn more about me here: About Me


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