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Jeff Woods: Cleanse your mind of the detox hype

In the age of a thousand get-slim-quick schemes, one fitness expert is urging Canadians to skip the hype and leave nature to do the cleansing.

'Keep it simple: burn more calories than you take in, advises health and fitness expert

While there are currently thousands of detoxifying cleanses advertised to help rid your body of unwanted toxins, fitness expert Jeff Woods says the old classic regime of diet and exercise is still your best bet. (Shutterstock)

In the age of a thousand get-slim-quick schemes, one fitness expert is urging Canadians to skip the hype and leave nature to do the cleansing.

A person considering a cleanse has literally thousands of options to choose between, says Jeff Woods, a long-time personal trainer and fitness lifestyle commentator on the Canadian Learning Channel. From a simple colon cleanse ("Just a fancy enema — a lot of fun") to an "Ultimate Body Detox," he says "there's a whimsical plan to suit any need out there."

"When it comes to detoxifying, the cleanse looks like this: it could be a potion that you buy … or it could be just a methodology of eating with typically reduced calories."

The rationale behind each of the plans is typically something along the lines of "re-setting" the body, ridding it of chemicals, pesticides and toxins, Woods says. At the same time, the person undergoing the cleanse is typically given a strict caloric restriction to limit what and how much they eat.

However, the terminology used to define what those toxins really are is so vague that "no one really knows" exactly what it is referring to.

Woods says one thing is for certain, however: "(There's) a lot of pseudoscience involved."

"As it relates to the science, the evidence, there's nothing that clearly suggests that this would work to improve your health whatsoever."

In a healthy body, the kidney, liver and colon will work to clear toxins effectively, says Woods, so just let them do their job.

And reducing your food intake to the level advised by many of the cleanses can do even more damage — especially if done frequently.

According to Woods, a person trying improve their health would be much better served by simply eating in a mindful manner.

"You're going to suffer metabolically because you don't have enough calories going into your body to support exercise and be active," Woods says, which can negatively impact the development of strong bones and lean muscle as you age.

His advice: "Ignore the hype on the detox movement — (there's) no evidence to support the claims. Keep it simple: burn more calories than you take in."

For the average woman, that means taking in about 1,600 calories per day; 2,400 for the average man, Woods says. If you have any concerns or questions about your own health issues, make a visit to your doctor to discuss, he adds.

Woods recognizes his advice flies in the face of human nature, in which people are always searching for a quick fix or a fast-track to weight loss. It is that facet that many of the companies offering up cleanses hope to cash in on through slick marketing and "a lot of buzzwords," he says.

"Things like 'detoxify,' 'cleanse,' 'energize,' 'improve metabolism,' 'be vital,'" Woods rattles off.

And then there's the final nail in the cool cleanse coffin: "The largest driving force behind this whole movement is celebrity endorsement," Woods says.

In total, the commercial cleanse industry generates about $5 billion in revenues each year, he says.

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