Juice Cleanses: A Cure-All Or Fruitless Experiment

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Sierra Combs
Contributing Writer

In the last decade, juice cleanses have taken over the Western world, becoming a multi-billion dollar fad. Juice cleanses are advertised and promoted in many blogs, health magazines, and by a plethora of celebrities. A juice cleanse is a certain period of time where you consume only liquids; specifically water, herbal teas, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and strained vegetable broth. There are many liquids that are prohibited during a cleanse i.e.:  any liquids which will tax the body such as coffee, caffeinated teas, milk, soda, pasteurized juice, protein powder mixes, diet drinks and so on.

There are several types of cleanses one could partake in. Some of the most popular ones include Master Cleanse for detoxing, Blue Print Cleanse–100% USDA certified organic juices which one must drink six times a day to rest the digestive system, and Organic Avenue juices which offer a kosher option. Most typical juicers, however, find these pre-made cleanses to be far too pricey, therefore they simply juice or blend raw fruits and veggies at home to promote detox and weight loss. Many medical experts disagree with the idea that we need help detoxifying our bodies.“There is no evidence that those detox diets do any kind of detoxification in the body,” says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Hermosa Beach, Calif. “In reality, if you really want to detox your body the best thing to do is have a diet that has plenty of fiber, plenty of fruits and vegetables, a lot of whole grains, a lot of plant foods so that your immune system, your liver, kidneys, lungs and other organs in your body can naturally do their job to detox you on its own,” says Giancoli.  The liver, kidneys and intestines are highly evolved systems that rid us of the toxins we ingest or encounter in the environment. We excrete them in our urine, feces, breath, and sweat.

The juices that are receiving the most hype are cold-pressed, a process that entails pulverizing fruits and vegetables and then pressing them with enough force to remove all the nutrients and juice, leaving behind a pulp. The Still, health-conscious Americans are convinced they need to aid the body in detoxification.  process, according to Michael Greger, M.D. on nutritionfacts.org, completely removes the healthy fiber from the produce on purpose so that your body can “rest”. Whole fruits are more beneficial than juices for preventing diabetes, helping you to feel full, and satisfying daily fiber requirements since they have not been

There are many pros and cons to cleansing, causing a great divide amongst advocates and opponents. If you’re cleansing or fasting with juice you will lose weight. If you undertake a juice cleanse and see it through, chances are you will have a boosted self-esteem and a fresh outlook on your regular diet. By spending a few days ingesting only fruits and vegetables, you are avoiding highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar. If you have a strong habit of making unhealthy food choices, a brief juice cleanse may help you break them; furthermore juicing is a great way to introduce fresh produce to your diet and acclimate your taste buds to raw foods.

All that being said, there are still risk factors one must consider before jumping into a cleanse. You’ll find little to no protein and fat in fresh pressed juice. Some commercial juices contain added nut milk that contributes a small amount of fat and protein and helps with satiety. Your body will suffer from going for more than a few days without sufficient protein. This lack of protein and fats could be a detriment to hair, skin, and nails. Juicing also removes some of the fiber and nutrients found in whole fruits and veggies (those in pulp, skin and seeds). Since there is less fiber in juice, more of the sugar is absorbed by the body, so lean towards more vegetables than fruit.

Common side effects from a juice cleanse include dizziness, blood sugar spikes, headaches, constipation, fatigue, irritability, and nausea. Additionally, a juice cleanse is not safe for everybody, especially people with diabetes, nutritional deficiencies or kidney disease, and those undergoing chemotherapy. As I mentioned before, you will lose weight but most will be water weight. If you’re looking to lose fat and keep it off, a juice cleanse is not the answer. The majority of people put the weight right back on after the cleanse. Any calorie-restrictive diet will lead to some weight loss, yet your body will respond to prolonged “starvation” with calorie conservation. If you put your body into starvation mode too often, you risk permanently lowering your metabolism.

If you’re still not dissuaded from the dubious world of juicing there are some precautionary steps you could take to ensure a safe, healthy experience. First off, always check with your doctor before starting any restrictive diet. Choosing a time when you don’t have too much going on at work and school, and you don’t have any food-centered social events is key. Juice cleanses require a lot of drinking, and many trips to the bathroom are inevitable. Be sure to ease into the cleanse and do not cleanse or fast for more than four days. Finally, keep in mind that a juicer removes fiber, but a blender or triturating juicers help retain more fiber and nutrients for a healthier, happier cleanse and hopefully a healthier, happier you.

The above quotes from Andrea Giancoli were found in The Huffington Post in the article, “Are Detoxes Really Necessary?”

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