Cleansing Up on Wall Street

As if I didn’t mistrust investment bankers enough, now I trust them even less. I refer to this story in the New York Times, Companies Try to Build Team Spirit Through Group Juice Cleansing. “Group cleanses, generally one-to-five-day, all-liquid diets with anywhere from a half-dozen to as many as 150 employees taking part, are emerging as one of the latest ways to solidify corporate bonds, on both Seventh Avenue and Wall Street,” they write. “Six-juice-a-day-dieters include employees at Merrill Lynch and the Carlyle Group and, in May, Citigroup began offering (a cleanse) in some of its Manhattan cafeterias.” How is that for good judgment? (Seventh Avenue, the fashion industry, gets a pass because they’re not expected to make sense.)

Why “Cleanse”?

Why do a corporate cleanse? “It was something we could do where we thought, ‘We’re all in this together,’ ” explained a young city business man. My explanation is that movie stars do it; it’s delivered by FedEx in a box with a bow; it’s in the same vein as vile-tasting energy drinks they use; and it gives everybody an excuse to “eat” as a group. (Why not hire a chef and eat food at the table, Italian-style?) But wait! Their insides need cleaning. Gwyneth Paltrow said so.

Make Sense

The voice of reason in the story comes from Joan Salge Blake, PhD, RD, a Boston University associate professor of nutrition. “Your liver and kidneys can handle toxins just fine,” she says. “There’s no science to back up cleansing.” (Can this stuff clean up the soul?) As a diversion, a short-term cleanse might be fun. It certainly is an event. It’s not harmful and it may serve as a tangible symbol of change. But “cleanses” lasting longer than a day or two can lead to muscle breakdown, headaches, irritability and fatigue. (Should anyone handle money in that state?) And cleanse fans note: never “cleanse” with colonic irrigation because it can perforate the bowel and cause a deadly infection.

Your thoughts: Would you take part in  a corporate cleanse?