If you’re wondering about the difference between a detox and a cleanse, you’re likely either looking for weight loss, body changes, brain boosts, or a reduction in inflammation.
The nice thing is that the difference between a detox and a cleanse is not enormous.
The even nicer thing is that it does not require a bunch of money or even a bunch of time to do either one.
And you can do both a detox and a cleanse at the same time without any harm to your body, mind, or system.
Indeed, if you want the full effect of revitalized energy, brain clarity, weight loss, and feeling in your full power, you should totally do both.
So, before we get into the how, let’s get into the what.
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A cleanse is a simple washing away of the old and a welcoming in of the new. It is like giving your mind, body, and spirit a bath.
A cleanse can include cleaning your house, taking a warm bath or shower, eating well, cutting crappy food out of your diet, and cutting back on screen time.
It is a good idea to do a cleanse at least once a week that includes a full room to room house cleaning and a bathing ritual that includes scrubs and clay masks.
It also helps to include some spiritual or personal development reading to freshen up your mental health.
A detox is a more serious version of a cleanse, and it calls for ridding your body, your home, and your mind of all toxins.
You can tell you need a detox if you are stressed or anxious in ways that persist and keep you up at night and affect your daily engagement with life and other people.
You also know you need a detox if you’re feeling down, sluggish, foggy, and bloated or swollen.
It’s time to clean up and clear out.
Cut screens out of hours of your day and on the weekends, cut all toxins out of your body and life, and take extreme measures.
In the case of detox, you should be listening to and reading spiritual books and podcasts that focus on being present, letting go, and detaching from materialism. Authors like Pema Chodron and Eckhart Tolle are good for this detox approach.
The Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse
As noted, the real difference between a detox and a cleanse is the level of need you have.
If you are at your wit’s end, you likely need a detox.
If you are simply trying to decompress at the end of the week, you probably just need a cleanse. And you can of course do a cleanse any time.
How to Do a Detox and a Cleanse
The instructions below are in order, from cleanse up to detox, depending on your level of comfort.
Remember, I said none of this will cost you a ton of money or time, but it will cost you your comfort level.
For most people, it takes a serious wake up call, like an illness, loss of a loved one, or loss of a job or some other major life shift to get to the point where they are willing to fully detox.
It is not easy to give up our creature comforts, even if it is what is best for us in the long run.
Furthermore, be mindful that beating up on your body, mind, and spirit over and over only to cleanse or detox every once in a while will eventually take a long term toll on all three, and you may end up finally getting the wakeup call that makes you have a final detox and shift your lifestyle entirely.
It will not do you a ton of good to detox and then jump right back into a toxic life.
To begin with a cleanse, you can start with the pegan diet as recommended by functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman.
Dr. Hyman raves about this diet as a sort of cleaning out of your system by getting back to basics – organic plants, pasture raised meats, and lots of herbs and spices.
This diet is low on dairy and gluten, so you can also see if you have any food intolerances while you try it out.
It’s a good idea to practice this diet for a few months, though you will likely feel better after just a week.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you’re running low on energy, go for a walk.
Exercise is the quickest and easiest way to clean out your entire system.
Walking or running outside makes it even better on all fronts as you get fresh air for your lungs and mental health and Vitamin D for your physical health.
Water really is the ultimate cleaning solution.
You should be drinking at least 8 glasses a day, more if you exercise.
You will notice bloating goes down and you feel more energized just by incorporating more water into your day.
The number one way your brain cleans itself up is through sleep. When you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, the cells in your brain regenerate, and your entire body has time to reduce inflammation and heal.
And speaking of inflammation, a great cleanse includes connecting with the earth for one hour every day.
Take off your shoes and plant your bare feet on bare soil, ideally moist soil or sand, or even wet concrete that has not been sealed.
The earth will remove all inflammation from your body in rapid time.
Aim for at least 12 hours a day without any caloric intake.
It’s actually easier than you think.
Just stop eating 2 hours before bed, sleep 8 hours, and don’t eat for 2 hours after you wake up.
BAM, you’re intermittent fasting, and you’re giving your body the minimum of 10 hours it needs to begin regeneration.
Clean Your Space
It’s really hard to feel happy and healthy in a messy, disorganized space.
Keep your house relatively neat and tidy every single day, so you feel good about walking through it.
Cut Caffeine, Alcohol, Drugs, and Minimize Sugar
Now we get to detoxing.
If you really want your body, mind, and spirit in a clean, clear, nontoxic space, it’s time to get serious.
You will need to stop drinking alcohol altogether. It is a poison.
Can your body handle it in small doses? Sure.
But if you want to be completely detoxed, you need to cut it out entirely.
It takes five full days for alcohol to stop showing up in your urine.
Who knows where else it may still be lingering.
Try going alcohol free for at least 30 days and see how you feel.
Add to that cut list any pharmaceutical or illicit drugs you may be taking, including marijuana.
(Obviously if you are on prescription drugs, talk to your doctor before cutting them down or out and do it in a way that will not send you into withdrawals and systemic shutdown.)
But the reality is drugs are rarely necessary on a long term basis, and almost always do more harm than good.
Get yourself clean and detoxed.
Also take a serious look at your caffeine and sugar intake.
While there is nothing inherently bad about either one, as they are naturally occurring and safe for your body, and even beneficial, in small amounts, the key here is small amounts!
Treat yourself with sugar once or twice a week, and cut back to one cup of coffee or black or green tea, or even a half caf, per day.
Eat and Drink Spices and Herbs
Excellent detoxifiers exists in nature in the form of herbs and spices.
Aim to get onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric into your diet every day.
Also look at leafy greens and vibrantly colored seasonal fruits and veggies like beets, blueberries, and melon.
These foods are literally medicine.
Clear Your Space
A further detox you can perform is in your home.
Clear it out.
Minimize as much as possible.
Do a dump run and toss anything that simply takes up space and does not bring you joy.
How Not to Do a Detox or Cleanse
Now, what not to do.
I have heard otherwise amazing doctors promote colonics, and these things are both unnecessary and, in many cases, dangerous.
Do not let someone insert a tube into your rectum and clean out your colon.
Your colon already knows how to clean itself out!
As do your liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin.
Trust your body to do what it does best.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
Do not take a pill to cleanse or detox yourself.
Your body is self-cleansing and self-healing.
It needs support.
Expensive Smoothies and Juices or Subscriptions
You do not need to sign up for the latest greatest fad diet, detox tea, smoothie, or other food box to cleanse or detox your body, mind, or spirit.
Just hit your local market and spend time in the produce, herbs, spices, and pasture raised meats and eggs aisles.
Spend your money, and your time, wisely, and your body will keep you well.