Nothing riles up health writers like the debate over the relative merits and perils of detox diets. In one camp, you have women convinced that cleanses are needed to flush harmful toxins from your body; in the other are people persuaded they’re dangerous fad diets that deprive you of essential nutrients (and then trigger binges). I was in neither, so I decided to give one a whirl myself.
Now, I’d like to say my motivation was pure professional curiosity: A desire to use my body as a research tool so that I could better report on a trend that celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow to Beyoncé have sworn by, inspiring legions of women in their wake. (Video: Go behind the scenes of a detox diet) But that wouldn’t be completely true. When I volunteered to test a liquid cleanse, it just so happened I had a trip planned to a tropical island just one week later. If, in the name of journalism, I could also feel better in my two-piece, well, wouldn’t that be nice?
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There are countless trendy detox diets out there, but I opted for the Master Cleanse. Sure, subsiding on spicy lemonade for 10 days sounded like cruel and unusual punishment. But unlike other cleanses that cost hundreds of dollars, this one was super easy to follow, and it was cheap. (Search: What are the most popular detox diets?) In fact, the only ingredients required were laxative tea, organic lemons, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.
Ten days sounded like a bit much, so I tasked myself with trying it for five. Below is my daily diary of what happened. Warning: You’d best stop here if toilet humor isn’t your cup of (laxative) tea.
The Best Way to Detox Naturally
Day 1: Salt-water guzzling and gag reflexes
When I first heard about the “internal salt water bathing” that followers are advised to do first thing in the morning, I thought it sounded pleasant and soothing—until I actually read the instructions. You’re supposed to chug an entire quart of lukewarm water mixed with two teaspoons of uniodized sea salt. “The salt and water will…quickly and thoroughly wash the entire digestive tract in about one hour. Several eliminations will likely occur,” says the handbook. Trying to get it down felt as bad as getting hit in the face with a wave of ocean water with my mouth wide open. The first time, I nearly vomit. “Thank God I work from home,” I keep telling myself, as I sprint from my computer to my bathroom. (Try a diet that keeps you full and still lose weight!)