What is the Difference Between a Cleanse and a Detox?


Cleanse. Detox. Is it all the same? While there are many different methods of detoxing and cleansing, they are actually quite different.


Cleansing and Detoxing have been around for centuries as part of a spiritual practice. Almost every religion has a holiday or tradition such as Lent, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan that prohibits you from eating or drinking for a certain period of time so that you can cleanse your body, mind, and soul. These traditions teach us that we need to give our body a break and allow for any toxins or negative energy to be released.

Ultimately, according to Ayurvedic traditions, it is best to cleanse 4 times a year with the seasonal changes. It’s a time of new beginning which allows the body to reset and give your organs a break. Even though our body naturally detoxes daily through the liver, colon, and kidneys, it is great to give them a break and clean them out. Think of it as an oil change with a tune up.


Both cleansing and detoxing require a process of elimination. So you’ll want to eliminate smoking, alcohol, coffee, and processed sugars which are all very taxing on the body’s system. You’ll also need to prepare your body for this transition, so it is always best to adopt a plant based diet a few days before and after the cleanse or detox in order to allow the body to transition. It is highly recommended that you take it easy and take the time to really cleanse your body, mind, and soul. Take a yoga class, meditate, spend some time by the beach, read enlightening books, take a nice relaxing bath, etc. 

Really embrace this process of eliminating toxins and negative energy. While a cleanse will shave off about 5-10lbs after you’re all done, you’ll want to keep off that weight by eating light clean meals.


Cleansing is usually a liquid diet for a few days or even a few weeks. The most common is a standard 3 to 7 day juice cleanse which most smoothie bars offer. Or you can plan your own juice cleanse at home if you have juicer.  The idea is to have a blend of fresh vegetable and fruit juice every 2 hours.The Master Cleanse is an intense fast where you are solely drinking water with mainly lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.  This blend supplies you with what you need for the day and even though it may sound grueling people tend to feel better after a few days.  A hardcore juice cleanse should be done on the weekend or while on vacation with minimum activity and no stress in order to avoid any health issues or binge eating.

A detox takes a different approach, where even though it incorporates a process of elimination, it is not necessarily a liquid diet but more eating clean, raw meals and liquids. There are many different detoxes, but for a simple one you’ll want to drink 2 quarts of water a day, have a green smoothie for breakfast, have a large salad with limited dressing for lunch, and dinner will consist of a lightly cooked vegetable meal with detoxing ingredients such as chia seeds, cayenne pepper, turmeric, etc. Drinking herbal teas daily that promote toxin elimination such as neem, dandelion, burdock root and milk thistle are highly suggested as well.

Every cleanse and detox program is different. It all depends on your goal and what you are looking to accomplish. If you are looking to just lose weight fast, there is no such thing that is fast and cheap with long term healthy results. If you look at fast food, whatever is fast and cheap is of poor quality, so take the same idea and apply it to a detox or cleanse. Don’t set yourself up for a cleanse and then continue eating a poor diet. A cleanse can help you during your weightloss and health journey but should not be a quick fix just to retox once again. Just make sure you listen to your body and do not commit to something that you may not be ready for. Doing a detox or cleanse with a friend or in a group is also a great way to stay on track and be held accountable.


Julia Poliadis

Jules is a certified health coach and plant based foodie based in Miami, FL. With her international background and passion for overall wellness, she has traveled, researched and experimented with all types of diets, remedies and approaches towards healthy lifestyles.