As part of a special summer series, I’m putting my stethoscope to this season’s popular diets. While they’re not all terrible, they are all products of our own conflicted, misinformed era. To put this report in its proper historical context for future scientists and world leaders reading this blog:
- In the U.S.’s 10 fattest states, nearly a full third of the population is obese. Even in our thinnest state, Colorado, nearly one-fifth are obese, so Donner parties will either have to make do with less or import midnight snacks.
- On the other hand, even the average male model is expected to have a body fat percentage of six or less. (And that’s the gender with less body issues.)
So, we’re a little crazed when it comes to weight loss because (a) on average, we’re failing at it, and (b) according to our current aesthetic standards, nearly everybody has to drop a few pounds before being eligible for gene-swapping.
And that — along with an interest in science, but not in reading in-depth about it — has led to some … questionable diet choices becoming very popular, even among those who don’t need to lose much weight.
This week’s trendy diet is cleansing or, as it’s known in other circles, juice fasting.
What is cleansing?
Cleansing is a means to “detoxify” or remove toxins (that have yet to be defined by any licensed medical group) from the body. Typically, this involves ingesting very little food, and what food that is ingested is for its fiber content or diuretic properties. The purpose of this is, in layman’s terms, to piss, s**t and vomit until your insides are as pristine as tropical island after a tsunami.
The most common (and easiest to market) way to “detox” — because most dieters don’t have enough energy to get off the toilet, much less say an entire made-up word — is through juice fasting.
Some cleansers (the people, not the human douche they’re consuming) believe that you can speed up the detoxification process by going up the other end with colonics and by removing metal fillings and using magnetic pads to leach out any possible heavy metal toxins.
The idea is that, when it’s all over, you are spiritually and physically cleaned out and ready to be healthy. Also, you’ve jump-started your way to a set of rocking abs by trying not to secrete liquid s**t in your work cubicle.
Why cleansing is bulls**t
If you read all the above without noticing any of the reasons why cleansing is bulls**t, then may I interest you in one of my patented Dr. Snee Juicers? It’s no coincidence that, when somebody says they’re on a juice cleanse right now, everyone in earshot automatically thinks either (a) “You’re so hot,” or (b) “You are so stupid.”
Look, nobody is disputing that you shouldn’t eat poison or heavy metal. And yes, pooping is very healthy. But, so is not pooping sometimes, too. And the bulls**t behind cleansing is an intentional hodgepodge of pseudo-science and pseudo-religion.
Cleansing is presented as a scientific means to flush the lifetime of garbage you’ve eaten out your assh*le like President Roslin solving Galactica’s Cylon problem. The cholesterol from every Happy Meal you ate isn’t in your large intestine, waiting for a long enough broom from either end to sweep out. It’s in your arteries. And if it were that simple to remove, then cardiologists could just tickle you until you peed.
Even if this idea were sound, it won’t work because juice fasting doesn’t even “clean” you out. It actually constipates you because fruit juice doesn’t contain fiber. Most of the juice cleanses sold on the market contain psyllium husks, which are nearly undetectable when drinking them, but greatly expand in your body, dredging your loose insides out like a vending machine dinosaur.
But, cleansing is also presented as the modern-day fast one begins before going on a life-altering spiritual journey, like visiting a sweat lodge to go on a vision quest, fasting for Ramadan or drinking a lot of wine in a hot tub. It’s no coincidence that, when starving and dehydrated, you sound an awful lot like Joseph Smith planning a road trip to Utah.
This creates a weird sort of bonding between fellow sufferers, which is why everyone who cleanses wants to share their experience with you. Much of this is because New Age practitioners love to adopt “Eastern” religious ceremonies and tools, but can only understand them from the viewpoint of Western mysticism. So, pain becomes some sort of achievement, like crucifixion and the way mothers get smug about child-birth.
Cleansing is bulimia sans fingers. For weight loss, yes, it works. Unfortunately, you’ve just experienced famine, which triggers your body to hoard everything you eat now.
But, we don’t chose diets based merely on weight loss. We chose them out of convenience, like not having to eat vegetables, or because we think our choices are more grounded in evolutionary science or moral. Or that, as juicing and fasting advocates claim, you can cure chronic pain, cancer, depression, arthritis, severe infections that resisted antibiotics and autoimmune diseases, so it’s a twofer.
Diets that come in a box usually have the bigger list of promises. Because why plan out a balanced diet of many foods for every nutrient your body needs when there’s a multivitamin you can take in the morning? And if they don’t work, that’s OK, because none of the other diets you’ve been on worked either.
But, to be fair, cleansing isn’t the absolute dumbest diet/life-changing experience you can try. So long as you haven’t intentionally eaten tapeworm eggs, you still haven’t hit rock bottom. (Yes, that’s really a thing, and no, you actually gain weight from a tapeworm.)
Rick Snee is not, in any way, a licensed medical professional or an actor that plays one on television. His only qualifications are high school and college biology (101 and 102), reading Men’s Health (2001-2003), and a systematic exposure to almost all health hazards (1981-present), but no medical training whatsoever. He’s just really opinionated, which is good enough for blogging. To submit yer own questions to Dr. Snee, Guynecologist, post comments below or email the good doctor.