With the growing popularity of juicing, it is easy to see why more and more people are becoming interested in cleansing diets. The Master Cleanse Diet is an all-liquid diet that has been widely popularized by this decade’s bestseller “The Master Cleanser” by Stanley Burroughs.
What makes this diet so enticing for many is that not only does it promise to help shed off those unwanted pounds, but also to clean up your colon. In reality though, maple syrup diet recipes are totally ineffective for long-term weight loss. Here is everything you need to know.
All About Master Cleanse Diet
Master Cleanse Diet gained its name from a specific type of detox cleanse drink that consists mainly of grade B maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and cayenne pepper water. This maple syrup drink is said to eliminate toxins from the body primarily through bowel movements while providing the body with antioxidants and nutrients at the same time (16).
Prolonged intake of this formula can also result in temporary weight loss since it’s part of a calorie-restricted diet (3).
How To Make Detox Water (4)
There are many maple syrup diet recipes. The basic version is as follows:
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- 8 to 12 ounces of purified or spring water
- Mix all the ingredients and drink whenever you’re hungry. Take at least six servings daily for 10 days.
Recipe courtesy of simple-nourished-living.com
How To Do A Cleanse
While on the master cleanse, you’re not allowed to eat a number of foods. A typical diet for the 10 day period looks something like this:
Day 1 and 2: Stop eating processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy, and added sugars. Eat more of raw whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
Day 3: Drink clear liquids like juices, smoothies, pureed soups, and broths. You can also eat fresh fruit.
Day 4: Do not eat or drink anything other than water and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Add maple syrup as needed for extra calories. Drink a laxative tea before bedtime.
Day 5: Start the Master Cleanse.
The weight loss cleanse should last for 10 days. However, some people go up to 40 days. To prevent constipation while on the diet, you’re advised to drink warm salty water each morning to stimulate bowel movements.
Once you’ve completed the cleanse, you should gradually ease back into eating solid foods. Start with juices and soups and eventually eat healthy balanced meals.
The cleansing diet itself was developed by Stanley Burroughs, who claimed that he did it after being diagnosed with cancer. During his cleanse, he found out that not only did he lose weight but also supposedly healed himself from intestinal problems which resulted from his increased dependence on prepared foods instead of home-cooked food.
After learning about his successful experience with cleaning, he decided to turn it into a commercial diet product called “The Master Cleanser.” Though many doubted its effectiveness at first, its rapid rise to fame was attributed to people’s desire for quick and easy homemade detox drinks that can result in weight loss (14).
Despite its initial popularity, it’s becoming apparent that these natural detox drinks are neither a safe nor sustainable weight loss method.
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Do Cleanses Work?
The short answer? No. Cleanses don’t work because your body does all the work already.
You have a capable detoxification system comprising several organs. Although the liver and kidney are the most popular detox organs, there are more: the skin, lungs, stomach, intestines, and lymphatic system are all involved.
The liver has two major detoxification functions: the first is to synthesize bile acids from cholesterol; these acids are necessary for fat digestion in the small intestine and absorption of lipids (fats). The second task is to break down the drugs that you take (9).
This might not be a task that most people think about when it comes to their liver but it is very important. Pharmaceuticals include antibiotics, vaccines, blood pressure meds, and birth control pills.
Your liver doesn’t only break down medications; it also is responsible for filtering out everything from alcohol to pesticides to environmental toxins (9). We are exposed to harmful chemicals daily and it’s important to stay educated about what you put in your body so that you can take measures to keep your liver healthy.
The kidneys’ main function is the elimination of waste products such as urea, water, potassium, and sodium. The kidneys filter most of these through a special type of structure called nephrons. Your two kidneys have more than one million nephrons which filter blood efficiently and continually until they reach their capacity and excrete any extra into the urine which will be then carried out by the bladder via the ureters (16).
There are several different types of chemical substances found in the blood and urine. The kidneys sort out which ones can be eliminated in the urine and those that are reabsorbed into the body (back into circulation). These can then be excreted by other organs such as sweat glands and lungs (16).
While your skin acts as a barrier against harmful substances, it is also capable of detoxifying itself. The skin has sebaceous glands that produce oils called sebum to protect and moisturize hair and skin (1).
Sebaceous glands secrete both fats and what are known as lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxides have oxidizing activity – they remove toxins from our body by oxidation – making them effective antioxidants with anti-aging properties. Severe oxidative stress in the skin causes wrinkling (1).
The Digestive Tract
The GI tract (also known as the gastrointestinal or digestive tract) is responsible for the elimination of waste material from your body. All cells and tissues must be continually broken down and built up again in order to maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, etc. A healthy digestive system will break down all food into its smallest components which then pass through the intestinal wall to give us energy (5). Anything not useful is passed through the digestive tract and excreted through bowel movements.
The lungs are also involved in detoxification; they are one of our main organs for cleaning chemicals out of our bodies by expelling carbon dioxide and water vapor through breathing, sweating, and urinating (10).
Phagocytes in your lungs attach themselves to any foreign particles that enter with inhaled air like dust or pollen, using a cascade of oxygen and enzymes to destroy them (10).
The Lymphatic System
Your lymph system has another function besides immunity; it transports fats to blood for use as energy. It also aids in detoxification by absorbing fats that contain toxins, then returning the toxin-free fats to the bloodstream for use (13).
How You Can Help Your Detoxification System
Detoxification is an important component of your body’s defense against illnesses and disease. It is a natural process that occurs every day, but if you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet or allowing yourself time to relax, this vital process can become overworked and often leads to illness.
Most people today live very hectic lifestyles – exercising frequently, drinking lots of caffeine and alcohol (both toxic), smoking cigarettes (also toxic), etc… So it’s safe to say we don’t give our bodies quite enough rest; therefore we should try to take some downtime each week so that our bodies have time to detoxify and rebuild healthy cells.
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Here are some diet and lifestyle changes you can make to support your body’s detoxification system:
By eating a sensible diet and getting regular exercise you can help your body detoxify. Eating the right foods will allow your body to perform all of its important functions, including detoxification. Here is a list of useful foods for your health and wellness regimen:
- Eat mostly organic fruits and vegetables (organic produce contains less pesticides which may be harmful to your health) (7). If that isn’t possible, simply rinse your fruits and vegetables well before consuming them.
- Dark-colored fruits and veggies are best because they contain more antioxidants and other helpful compounds; these are nutrients that boost our immune systems, fight off disease, and even slow down the aging process (6)! Try to get all of the different colors of the rainbow.
- Go lean with protein – lots of us eat too much meat nowadays. By limiting meat intake and focusing on fish and beans you will save yourself tons of calories while still maintaining the essential protein your body needs.
- Drink lots of water – although we don’t always realize it, water is actually very important to the health of our bodies; don’t deprive yourself of this vital nutrient! The recommended amount of pure H2O you should drink each day is about 8 glasses (the size of your fist) (15). It’s a good idea to drink lots of water early in the morning, as well as just before going to sleep. Try adding lemon or lime juice for extra flavor!
- Eliminate the bad stuff – Caffeine and alcohol intake should be limited for optimal health benefits; too much caffeine can leave you feeling stressed out, anxious, or cranky (2).
- Alcohol is also very dehydrating so it’s important not to get carried away with your drinking habits (12).
- Cigarette smoking is the most toxic of all substances humans ingest and should be avoided altogether – these are proven cancer-causing agents which also weaken the immune system; they’re nothing but trouble (11)! If you do smoke, try to cut back or quit if possible.
Slow Down And Relax
Don’t forget to give your mind a break from its daily demands, this is just as important as partaking in regular physical activity. If you don’t give yourself time off, or don’t allow yourself enough sleep (which can be very calming), then your body’s detoxification system may end up overworked and even underachieving.
Here are some tips for getting rid of mental stress so that you can relax more often:
- Meditate frequently – close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 10 minutes each morning and/or evening. Not only will you feel more relaxed, but meditation also improves blood circulation and gives your immune system a boost.
- Yoga is a great exercise for slowing down the overactive mind – try meditating before working out if you’re having trouble clearing your mind of clutter.
- Visit nature often – by spending time in forests or near large bodies of water (like lakes or oceans) we can connect with our surroundings and gain a sense of peace from being surrounded by such beauty. With all the technology surrounding us these days, it’s hard not to get stressed out! By taking some time off to relax you’ll be able to recuperate from stressful situations easier.
Boost Your Defenses
As you may have heard, a strong defense is the best offense. This saying can also be applied to your immunity system – build up its defenses now so that when stress comes knocking you’re ready for it! Here are some things you can do to improve overall health and thus increase your body’s resistance to disease:
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods: these are fruits and vegetables which contain numerous healing properties which strengthen the immune system. Try incorporating more berries into your diet as they’re currently considered one of the most potent antioxidants foods (6).
Our bodies continually go through a process called oxidation or detoxification, which is the use of chemicals to dissolve waste and unwanted substances that enter our bodies by breathing, eating or drinking them (or applying them topically).
Antioxidants serve a vital role in this process and help prevent damage from free radicals, unstable molecules caused by toxins or normal metabolic processes. Free radicals can harm cells not only in your body but also around your skin when you grow older (6).
This is why antioxidants play such an important role in maintaining health: they protect your body against cell damage, especially DNA damage resulting from pollution or smoking cigarettes (6).
- Take multivitamins: vitamins help our bodies function properly in so many ways; vitamins help assist the immune system and give it all of the building blocks it needs for optimal health (8). If you think you aren’t getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet, talk to your healthcare provider about whether they recommend you take a multivitamin supplement.
- Get moving: Just as exercise helps build and maintain muscles in the body, physical activity also maintains our organs and immune systems. Exercise improves oxygen flow to bodily tissues which helps eliminate toxins from your cells; if you don’t work out then your detoxification system may not be cleaning itself properly. It can also aid in the removal of stored fat – create a better body for better health.
Here’s how you achieve this goal:
- Incorporate some type of physical activity into each day whether that be walking or running, swimming, biking, gardening. A quick walk around the block will increase your metabolism and get things moving through the body.
- Spend time outdoors – fresh air and sunshine not only clears your mind but is also good for the skin, which will give you a healthier glow.
- Use your imagination to come up with new ways of pushing yourself – if you enjoy dancing then start taking lessons! If running is your thing then run laps around the park every other day. No one wants to do something they dread, so try partnering up and going out of your way to keep each other motivated.
The Bottom Line
Maple syrup diets are not effective for long-term weight loss because you’re only eliminating waste from the body through bowel movements. Furthermore, it’s becoming apparent that these natural detox drinks aren’t safe or sustainable methods of losing weight. If you want help achieving your fitness goals without resorting to fad diets, simply eat well, exercise more, and de-stress to lose weight and support your body’s detoxification system.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Skin (n.d., ons.org)
- Caffeine consumption and self-assessed stress, anxiety, and depression in secondary school children (2015, nih.gov)
- Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? (2018, nih.gov)
- CAYENNE PEPPER WATER LEMON MAPLE SYRUP (2009, simple-nourished-living.com)
- Gastrointestinal Function (2008, nih.gov)
- Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables (2012, nih.gov)
- Human health implications of organic foods and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review (2017, nih.gov)
- Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins? (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Liver: Anatomy and Functions (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Non-respiratory functions of the lung (2013, oup.com)
- Smoking & Tobacco Use (2020, cdc.gov)
- The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial (2017, nih.gov)
- The Lymphatic System in Health and Disease (2013, nih.gov)
- The Rise (and Fall) of the Master Cleanse Diet (2012, cornell.edu)
- Water: How much should you drink every day? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Your Kidneys & How They Work (2018, nih.gov)