Inevitably, someone will say, 'But my juice cleanse WORKED.' No, it really didn't.

Health fads are nothing new to modern civilization. Collectively, we want so badly to look our best and live forever that we do things that make absolutely no sense (like drink bottles of radioactive water). Thankfully, as medical science advances, we have better and better means to test whether the newest health craze is healthy or just crazy.

Here are five reasons detoxes should make you incredibly skeptical.

1. They are really (really) expensive.

A quick search for cleanse or detox on Google shopping will present you with pages and pages of expensive pills, powders, juices, sprays, patches, creams, and even machines that purport to somehow make you much healthier in a very short period of time.


If they cost all that and actually did all the things they claim to do, maybe there would be no cause for complaint. However...

2. They promise vague benefits and are even more vague about how those benefits are produced.

These products often talk about the dangerous "toxins," "metals," or "chemicals" being stored in the human body. But the particular compound that the product is supposed to fight is almost never specified. Scientific studies of detox products do them no favors, which is why you won't be hearing them cite any peer-reviewed studies.

3. They're often advocated by people who have no expertise in the mechanics of the human body.

It's almost shocking how much money these ordinary-person-turned-health-entrepreneurs can make by starting a food trend — even if that trend has no basis in medical science. They advocate plausible-ish solutions for issues like pain, unwanted weight (especially this one), or fatigue. But the lightest scrutiny often shows them to be largely ineffective.

4. They can be really dangerous.

When it comes to nutrition, juice cleanses are bad news. By restricting your diet to juices, you're flooding your system with fructose (the type of sugar in fruits that makes them taste sweet) while virtually eliminating your protein intake. There's nothing healthy about a high sugar/no protein diet.

Doctors have been waving red flags about colon cleanses and colonics for years. But people are still doing them despite warnings of potential cramping, bloating, bowel perforation, and kidney problems, among other issues.

And because so few of the people who advocate for these regimens are trained medical professionals, they might be advocating for routines that could cause irreparable damage (like this woman in the UK whose "nutritionist" told her to drink so much water that she suffered brain damage from hyponatremia).

5. They have no science to back them up. Like, none.

Eight questions to ask before starting a "detox" or "cleanse":

  1. Have I talked to my doctor about the health issue I'm trying to address?
  2. Have I talked to my doctor about the regimen I'm considering, including its efficacy and side effects?
  3. What specific health benefit am I supposed to get from this regimen?
  4. By what specific method does this regimen deliver this benefit?
  5. Is the person or persons responsible for developing this regimen qualified to do so?
  6. What body of evidence supports this method of health improvement?
  7. Has this regimen's health effects been independently studied and replicated?
  8. Has this regimen's claims been debunked by a credible source?
More
Courtesy of First Book

We take the ability to curl up with a good story for granted. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to books. For the 32 million American children growing up in low-income families, books are rare. In one low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., there is approximately one book for every 800 children. But children need books in their lives in order to do well in school and in life. Half of students from low-income backgrounds start first grade up to two years behind other students. If a child is a poor reader at the end of first grade, there's a 90% chance they're going to be a poor reader at the end of fourth grade.

In order to help close the literacy gap, First Book launched Give a Million, a Giving Tuesday campaign to put one million new, high-quality books in the hands of children. Since 1992, the nonprofit has distributed over 185 million books and educational resources, a value of more than $1.5 billion. Many educators lack the basic educational necessities in their classrooms, and First Book helps provide these basic needs items.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
True
first-book

I was 10 when my uncle Doug took his own life. I remember my mom getting the phone call and watching her slump down the kitchen wall, hand over her mouth. I remember her having to tell my dad to come home from work so she could tell him that his beloved baby brother had hung himself.

Doug had lived with us for a while. He was kind, gentle, and funny. He was only 24 when he died.

My uncle was so young—too young—but not as young as some who end their lives. Youth suicide in the U.S. is on the rise, and the numbers—and ages—are staggering.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Pavel Verbovski

Forrest doesn't mind admitting he needed a second chance. The 49-year-old had, at one point, been a member of the Army; he'd been married and had a support network. But he'd also run into a multitude of health and legal problems. He'd been incarcerated. And once he was released, he didn't know where he would go or what he would do. He'd never felt so alone.

But then, some hope. While working with Seattle's VA to obtain a place to live and a job, Forrest heard about Mercy Magnuson Place, a new development from Mercy Housing Northwest that would offer affordable homes to individuals and families who, like Forrest, needed help in the city's grueling rental market.

Forrest remembers not wanting to even go see the building because he didn't want to get his hopes up, but a counselor persuaded him. And when he learned that the development was a repurposed former military barracks — now a historic landmark — he knew he'd feel right at home.

Today, Forrest couldn't be happier. "I've got a 10-foot-high ceiling," he says. "I've got 7-foot windows. I look out onto a garden." His studio apartment, he says, has more space than he knows what to do with. For someone who's spent chunks of his life not having a place to call his own, the three closets that Forrest's apartment boasts are a grand luxury.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
True
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Having a baby is like entering a fight club. The first rule of having a kid is don't talk about having a kid. New moms end up with weird marks on their bodies, but they don't talk about how they got there or why. They just smile as they tell other women motherhood is such a joy.

There are so many other things we don't talk about when it comes to pregnancy. Hearing about the veritable war zone your body turns into is enough to snap anyone out of the highest of baby fevers, which is why so many women probably keep the truth to themselves. But it's important to talk about the changes because it normalizes them. Here are some of the ways your body changes that your health textbook isn't going to cover.

Keep Reading Show less
popular