Learning about how environmental toxins and poor diet can affect them, many consumers are turning to detox and cleansing programs as a proactive approach to health.
Detoxification and cleansing has been practiced throughout history by many cultures for physical and spiritual reasons. Many ancient cultures took part in cleansing rituals, while detoxification is a part of traditional Chinese, Native American and ayurvedic medicine.
Further, in many religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, fasting is a way of purifying the soul. “It’s a way of resetting one’s moral clock, of starting with a clean slate,” said Michael McCullough, a psychology professor at the University of Miami, in an interview with Newsweek.
Today, the market for detoxification and cleansing products is on the rise. In fact, according to a Mintel study, the number of food and drink products with detoxification claims has increased fourfold since 2003. Part of the reason for this growth is the exposure from experts/television personalities such as Dr. Oz and the influence that they have on their viewers. For instance, Dr. Oz introduced his viewers to a three-day detox to jump start energy on an episode of his show. “Consumers hear and listen to these recommendations— as indicated by the marked sales increases of these supplements in the days following their mentions,” said Zoe Kissam, herbalist and associate brand manager for California-based Traditional Medicinals.
And according to Matt Warnock, president of Utah-based RidgeCrest Herbals, Inc., the overall market seems to be growing steadily because consumers are now more aware of the toxins in the environment and want to be proactive about their health. “Sometimes demand is spurred by current events, so if there is a big toxic event in the news, people may rush to find a related cleanse,” he said, noting that after the Fukushima disaster, Americans went out in droves to purchase radioactive cleanse products, even though there was little or no evidence that radioactive wastes reached the United States. “But as a rule, people are increasingly becoming aware of the toxins we are all exposed to, and are looking for ways to improve their health.”
Unfortunately, exposure to environmental toxins are unavoidable and may take a toll on a person’s health in obvious and nonobvious ways, according to Bonnie Cooper, vice president of marketing for ReNew Life Formulas, Inc. in Florida. “Increased toxin exposure and increased toxin levels have been linked to a wide range of chronic diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer,” she explained.
In addition to the environmental toxins, consumers are also learning that the food they eat, even if it is considered “healthy,” may be doing more harm than good to their bodies. “One big impact is the recent surge in interest in GMOs (genetically modified organisms). People are learning how many toxins are in the food supply, and how these toxins can affect health over time,” said Warnock. “So clearly people are more interested in their kidney and liver health, as these organs are the body’s primary line of defense against toxins carried in food and water.”
As the market for detox and cleansing products continues to grow, it is beginning to reach a larger consumer base. Dan Chapman, owner of Sunrise Health Foods, with two locations in Lansing and Flossmoor, IL, noted that the middle-aged and older age groups are more inclined to purchase a detox or cleansing product, while Daphne Saul, information specialist for The Well in Bedford, VA, has found that women were more likely to make a purchase.
“The core market is women 45 and over, with a marked shift to more men over 55 using toxin removers,” explained Kent Adams, CEO of LifeHealth Science, LLC in Ohio. “A younger family segment is starting to emerge due to health concerns and media attention. More moms are recognizing the impact of toxins on children as well. Toxins build up slowly over time and the impact increases slowly, creating more need in the older demographic. The Baby Boomer generation is staying active longer and are looking for practices that can support their lifestyles.”
While some believe that the sole purpose of detox and cleansing products is to jump start weight loss, these products do much more for the body. Detox and cleansing products support the body’s function of the seven channels of elimination: colon, liver, lungs, lymph, kidneys, skin and blood, according to Cooper. “These seven channels are all involved in the removal of toxins from the body. Maintaining healthy function of these channels with periodic cleansing and detox is important in today’s world.” Cooper also noted that in addition to helping support weight loss, detox and cleanse products can help increase energy, improve regularity, reduce brain fog, as well as support overall digestive and immune health.
Saul said that The Well’s employees get questions about detoxes and cleanses almost daily and that the staff makes it a point to find out what a customer’s goal is. “We try to find out what they hope to achieve by ‘cleansing,’” she said. “We then ask whether they prefer pills, liquids or would prefer to do it through diet (or a combination of one or more of these). We try to make it a point to talk to them about diet and health habits that can help or hinder them in their endeavor.”
Because detox and cleansing products can focus on different areas of the body, retailers must question customers not only to learn if there is a particular area they want to detox, but also the amount of time they are able and willing to commit to it as well. “A cleansing program that includes a total body cleanse, a liver detox and a microbial cleansing, if needed, is recommended seasonally or twice yearly, depending on the individual’s need,” explained ReNew Life’s Cooper.
ReNew Life offers a number of two- or three-part kits formulated for total body internal cleansing. First Cleanse is a two-part, two-week program for those who have never cleansed before; CleanseSmart, the company’s most advanced cleanse, is a two-part, 30-day formula; while Total Body Cleanse is made with organic herbs and fiber, and offers a gentle cleansing experience for those who prefer all-organic products. Lastly, the Total Body Rapid Cleanse is a deeper three-part cleanse that can be done in seven days.
LifeHealth Science’s Adams noted that his company recommends a four month cycle for the first toxin removal regimen, then an annual one- or two- month usage that can help provide optimal health. “People who have high levels of toxins, poor toxin removal systems or high exposure occupations are recommended to use daily maintenance dosage,” he said. “We recommend a colon cleanse in spring or fall.”
Znatural toxin remove from LifeHealth Science is unique in its ability to remove toxins at the cellular level and contributes to measurable improvement in natural health, according to the company. Placebo controlled studies demonstrate an Increase in cellular energy, basel metabolism rate, increase in lean body mass and increase in the mineral-rich intracellular water. Using Znatural for 120 days supports improved memory, sleep, concentration, energy, mobility, reduced body aches and pains, reduced mood swings and enhanced immune system, the company stated.Increase in cellular energy, basel metabolism rate, increase in lean body mass and increase in the mineral-rich intracellular water. Using Znatural for 120 days supports improved memory, sleep, concentration, energy, mobility, reduced body aches and pains, reduced mood swings and enhanced immune system, the company stated.
While some detox and cleansing programs are created to be done for a period of a few times per year, other products are gentle enough to be used daily. “We have a saying here at Health Plus,” said Charlsea Foley, product manager for the California-based company. “‘How often do you take a shower? Once or twice a day, correct? So don’t you believe you should ensure [that] your insides are cleansed as often as well?’”
The company recently introduced the Every Day Cleanse, a specially formulated proprietary blend to fine tune the tools in the body responsible for cleansing and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. This formula is designed to be taken as the ultimate support for not only the colon, but the liver and kidneys as well, according to the company.
As its name suggests, ReNew Life’s newest product, Daily Liver Support, is also formulated for daily use. Daily Liver Support contains the liver-supporting amino acid TMG as well as milk thistle, turmeric and other liver-supporting herbs. The liver bears the brunt of today’s overwhelming toxicity and needs nutritional support each day to cleanse toxins from the body, according to Cooper.
“Every body is different, and every- one has different health goals and priorities,” explained RidgeCrest Herbals’ Warnock. “So one size does not fit all, and one rule doesn’t cover every situation. But if you listen, your body will tell you when you need a cleanse, or whether you need a long-term maintenance program.”
RidgeCrest Herbals offers KidneyAid and LiverClean, which are based on traditional Chinese herbal formulas. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on helping to restore a proper balance in the body, and has a long tradition of safe use over a very broad variety of individuals, according to Warnock. These formulas use small doses of many ingredients, rather than large doses of one or two, for gentler and safer effects, and for more consistent effects across a wide variety of individual needs and conditions.
Detox and cleansing products offer a number of delivery methods including capsules, powders and beverages. “With greater choices and variety, cleansing has become more mainstream, so there are product options for every day use,” said Chakra Earthsong Levy, formulator and cofounder of California-based KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Drinks.
For instance, Traditional Medicinals offers a number of detox teas that are intended for everyday use and can range from One to three cups daily. Varieties include Organic Roasted Dandelion Root, which gently stimulates the liver and supports healthy digestion; Organic Burdock, which promotes healthy kidneys and skin*; EveryDay Detox, which promotes healthy liver function*; and EveryDay Detox Lemon, which promotes healthy liver function.*
“There are many detox products and methods available today, including those that are chemical-based or require drastic measures,” said Kissam. “Our detox teas, on the other hand, gently aid the body’s natural detoxification process* and are formulated by knowledgeable herbalists with pharma-copoeial quality herbs.”
According to The Well’s Saul, delivery comes down to an individual’s preference, while Sunrise Health Foods’ Chapman noted that his customers often opt for the pill form. “Preferred is always pill form simply because of ease of use and there is no concern about taste. But with cleansing, most times in order to take in enough fiber we need to add a powder,” he explained.
For those constantly on the go, grab-and-go options such as pre-packaged drinks may be preferred. Launched in April 2013, KeVita Daily Cleanse offers a light and easy-to-drink everyday cleansing boost. Lightly sweetened with stevia rather than high-glycemic maple syrup, it has only 10 calories and 2 g of sugar per bottle. Organic lemon and a hint of cayenne create a hydrating refreshment that may help to curb cravings for snacks and sugary drinks. Additionally, it is certified organic, low on the glycemic index, and is gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free.
Clearing Up Confusion
While detoxes and cleanses have entered the mainstream, some consumers may not exactly understand their true purpose. Education is a vital piece of the puzzle, while clear and concise packaging can help avoid confusion.
“Most people do not understand that a ‘cleanse’ can be directed at different areas of the body,” said Saul. “It might be helpful if suppliers were more specific as to whether it primarily cleanses the blood, bowels, liver, clears heavy metals, or two or more of these things.”
“Many of the new products can confuse customers because there are so many specific types of cleanses that they really just need to know where to start and what to expect,” added Chapman.
Holding classes and in-store educational events with experts to go over the types of detoxes and cleanses, and how consumers will feel during and after, may help shed light on the subject for many customers. ReNew Life helps retailers by providing an array of support including national print advertising, product brochures, booklets, bag stuffers, shelf talkers, posters, coupons, online or in-person educational sessions, product display units and, most recently, the Natural Cleansing and Detoxification Solution Center, a first-of-its-kind program that helps shoppers find their ideal health supplement in just minutes through engaging videos and free product literature.
In addition, manufacturers can ensure that store staff understand the product through training and product literature. According to Foley, Health Plus focuses on sales training by teaching retailers everything there is to know about digestive cleansing and how it can benefit their customers.
“Knowledgeable salespeople can answer the questions that consumers always have, as well as tailor a cleansing regimen to their specific needs and concerns,” added Ridgecrest Herbals’ Warnock.
“There is so much potential in the detox and cleansing market. What is really going to make cleansing thrive is educating people on how important cleansing is and the benefits for the body,” concluded Foley. “As it stands today, there are a growing number of things out there such as pollution, stress, preservatives, prescription medication, etc., that are clogging our bodies key organs (liver, kidney and colon). Education will be very important in the future for cleansing as we see many people begin to self medicate.”
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Foods for Spring Cleaning
Retailers holding educational events may want to offer advice for their customers on foods that cleanse. Celebrity nutritionist, Christine Avanti, CN, is a classically trained chef and cohost of the Food Network’s “Fat Chef.” She is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post’s Living, Food and Health sections. Author of two books, Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads (Rodale,2009) and Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food (Rodale, 2012), Avanti has shared her nutrition and culinary advice on the “Today” show and “Dancing With the Stars,” among other media outlets. Below, she shares some tips and her favorite cleansing foods:
• Stop eating processed packaged foods—they are high in sodium, trans fats and refined sugars. Instead, shop the perimeter of the grocery store and see your body transform.
• Start drinking coconut kefir to increase the good bacteria in your gut—this will help lessen bloating and digestive disturbances.
• Parsley may be thought of as a garnish, but this herb helps cleanse the kidneys, aids in digestion of protein and fats, and boosts immunity.
• Zucchini is full of fiber, helping move things through the intestines, and is also more filling than it is in terms of calories, helping to keep you from snacking.
• Mushrooms contain some surprising nutrients, like selenium (which has been found to combat bladder cancer), as well as vitamins D, B1 and B2, which help the body burn energy.
• Okra has a “gelatinous” coating that absorbs water and moves through the digestive system easily, taking with it toxins, cholesterol and bile.
For more information, visit www.christineavanti.com.