The Truth about Juice Cleanses
A growing trend in the health and weight loss circles, juice cleanses have been steadily gaining popularity. So, what is a juice cleanse, and is it actually healthy?
A juice cleanse is a type of diet where you only drink juice for anywhere from 3 days to multiple weeks. You do not eat any solid food, just juice, water, and with some cleanses a small cup of coffee or herbal tea. There are many companies where you can order a juice cleanse to be delivered to your door, they typically cost between $60-$75 per day. Alternately, you can purchase a home juicer for $50-$400.
Juice cleanses claim to do everything from help you lose weight to cut your risk of chronic diseases. Cleanses are marketed as a way to detoxify our bodies from the toxins and impurities we consume every day. Even celebrities have gotten into the $5 billion juice business, partnering with juice companies to create their own cleanse program.
But there are some problems with these claims and the supposed benefits of juice cleanses.
- Our bodies already remove toxins on their own, meaning we do not need a juice to do it for us. Our kidneys, intestines, and liver all work hard to keep our bodies clean and working in proper form. So the claims made by all the companies hawking the ability of a juice cleanse to detoxify your body are leaving out the important fact that your bodies already know how to do this. There is currently no scientific evidence that supports the detoxifying claims of juice cleanses.
- When you extract the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables, you end up concentrating the nutrients which allows your body to quickly absorb those nutrients. The problem is that when you make the juice, you are not just concentrating the nutrients but also the sugar from the fruit. This can cause a drastic spike in blood sugar, as many fresh juices have a surprising level of sugar, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes.
- Juicing fruit and vegetables separates the juice from the fiber, which juice cleanse proponents tout as a chance for your digestive system to get a break and get back to functioning normally. The problem with this claim (aside from the fact that there is no scientific proof to back it up) is that fiber is actually great for our digestive system. It helps to fill us up, keeps us from overeating, and it is essential for keeping our digestive tract functioning properly.
- Swapping all of your meals and snacks with juice for an extended period of time can have negative effects on your metabolism. When we are not eating solid food, our body conserves energy because it thinks it is starving. It will start with consuming excess fat, but if the cleanse lasts long enough it will start going after your muscle tissue. If you continually partake in juice cleanses, your body could permanently slow down your metabolism, causing you to gain weight.
- If you are taking certain medicines, such as blood thinners, juicing can be very dangerous to your health. In some cases, juicing while on some medications can lead to serious complications, so it is best to consult a doctor if you are interested in a juice cleanse.
There are many people who boast about the positive outcomes they have achieved from a juice cleanse, but it seems like a lot of these claims go unfounded. As with any dietary change, it is important to consult a doctor prior to starting a new program.
When making or choosing juice, try to stick with the varieties that have more vegetables than fruit, to avoid a high sugar content. Freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice can still be part of a healthy diet, but it is best to enjoy it as part of a whole foods diet as opposed to drinking only juice for extended periods of time.