TODAY   |  July 01, 2013

Do trendy ‘cleanses’ help or harm the body?

From expensive bottles of juice to homemade concoctions, the “cleansing” trend, which claims to rid the body of toxins, has become a multibillion-dollar industry. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports and talks to TODAY contributor Dr. Roshini Raj about safety issues the trend raises.

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>> comes to your health, cleanses are among the fastest growing and most controversial trends. a new article that's getting a lot of attention, some doctors are saying not so far. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning willie. well, the cleansing trend is a multibillion dollar industry with products from juice to home grown concoctions. they all have one thing in common. a promise to rid the body of harmful toxins.

>> blend it, shake it, buy it and profit. in his los angeles kitchen he concocts his version of the master cleanse preplacing food with up to 90 ounces of water, lemon juice , pepper for the first three days.

>> the first three days are the toughest. if you can get beyond three days you feel the toxins seeping out of your body.

>> this plan has more nutrients and vitamins.

>> it's fuelling a variety of prepackaged programs.

>> we're not doctors and don't claim to know everything about how the digestive system works. we just know how we feel and how our customers feel and how much this product makes an impact on our lives.

>> at the pressed juicery they're marketing 3 to 5 day cleanses.

>> it's to give your digestive system a break and hit the reset problem.

>> this is an unbalanced diet approach.

>> many experts say the claims are hard to swallow since there's such little scientific evidence .

>> there's no way a 3-day detox diet is going to remove toxins you may or may not have in your body.

>> the bodies kidneys and liver already filtder out toxins but a short cleanse is not bad.

>> maybe a two or day or three as a jump start to a diet because mentally it's like throwing down a package of cigarettes.

>> but for the true believers.

>> you feel fantastic. you have more energy, you sleep better and you go through what is almost a spiritual experience.

>> now it's important to note that almost all of the companies that market their cleansing solutions recommend that you talk to your doctor first, willie.

>>> all right. thanks. we'll talk to one right now as a matter of fact. she is a contributor and gast r gastrointerologist.

>> is there anything wrong with trying these for a few days?

>> they're extreme and only incorp. rate a few ingredients. you're limiting yourself in term of not getting enough protein or fiber. it's dangerous for anyone that has any medical conditions . taking prescription medications.

>> the promise is that they will rid the body of toxins. do they do that in the end?

>> they don't. there's no scientific evidence for that. we do have kidneys, liver, this is what helps our body detoxify so this has never been proven and doesn't scientifically make sense.

>> a lot of people think i'm not going to eat for 3 or 5 days so i will lose weight by definition. is this a good way to lose weight .

>> it's temporary water weight you're losing. you're going to eat more later because you're hungrier and it's not a balanced approach to weight loss and this notion that you can sort of eat whatever you want and cleanse for a week and get rid of all the bad effects from the prior poor eating just doesn't make sense. you want to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and have a balanced diet but you want a long-term plan.

>> we asked at have you ever tried a cleanse? 35% say yes and 65% say no. do those numbers surprise you at all.

>> no, 35% is a large number but i see a lot of patients asking about cleanses or trying it. everyone wants to lose weight and feel healthy and think this might be an option. but if you find yourself thinking about a cleanse that's probably a sign that you're not happy with the way you're eating and you want to talk about a balanced approach that's a more long-term solution.

>> there's a bunch of different types of cleanses. the most popular one is a juice cleanse. what does that do exactly?

>> well, what it says is it help with your immune system and detoxify. you're getting fruits and vegetables. which is good but not in exclusion of other things. you also need protein and healthy fat. some have a lot of sugar in them which is not good either. so i don't mind having a juice drink instead of one meal per day but when it's three meals for several days, it's not a good idea.

>> adding supplements to the cleanse, advantage there is?

>> i don't think there's an advantage. it's probably disadvantage. you're not sure how they're going to react with your body or other medications. you have to be careful.

>> how about the raw food cleanse?

>> is it's just raw fruits and vegetables. it's too limited. you're not eating enough of other things.

>> these are popular. this is important information.

>> thank you.

>>> coming up, i carly all grown up. we'll catch up with miranda crossgrove and the