If you are following any of the diet and nutrition fads, you have likely run into the idea of juicing fruits and vegetables and juice cleanses. The so-called miracles of juice cleansing range from promising weight loss to improving digestion to detoxing the body. What is the truth behind juice cleansing?
Despite all the outrageous claims circulating about the effects of sugar on health, drinking juice, as part of a balanced diet, poses no health risk and can be a good (and delicious!) way to incorporate more vegetables and fruit in your diet. The pitfalls of juicing come into play when people start replacing meals with juices- whether it be a way to slim down or to remove alleged toxins.
Here are 4 Pitfalls and the Truth Behind Juice Cleansing:
1. Juicing is not the answer for weight management
Severely restricting your calories may lead to rapid (and temporary) weight loss. While this may seem attractive to many people trying to lose weight, it can lead to serious physical and mental problems in the future. When you restrict food and calories, your body may initially shed the pounds but when you resume eating normally, your body will fight to get back to the weight at which it functions best. This reaction to the severe deprivation you just went through includes reactions from your mind and body: appetite hormones are increased, your sense of smell increases, you tend to feel less satisfied with normals amounts of food, you will think of food more often and be attracted to more energy dense foods.
Not only is there backlash to eating too few calories after you diet, but there are immediate symptoms too. Consuming very few calories in a day can lead to a variety of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, low energy levels, inability to concentrate, preoccupying thoughts of food all the time and vomiting (just to name a few). Who would want to experience that?
2. Juices lack essential nutrients which are needed daily
When you do a juice cleanse, essentially you are only eating is sugar and water with a few vitamins. The problem is you are not consuming any of the other essential macronutrients such as fat, fiber and protein. Eating all the food groups is essential to healthy living (both physical and mental health). Restricting any food groups has never proven to help with long term weight loss and the number of different diets that cut out different food groups are a testament to the futility of it.
3. Juices are so expensive!
Juices specifically for juice cleanses can vary in price but are normally around 10 dollars a bottle. If you are following a cleanse and drinking six of them a day, that is 180 dollars for three days! Most people would agree that spending that much on juice is outrageous. Juicing is obviously a lot cheaper when you own your own juicer, however, the average consumer does not have their own juicer and is forced to spend a ridiculous amount of money on juice!
4. Detox, shme-tox
Contrary to what you may read on a juice cleanse label or in articles advocating it, the body does not need any help in detoxing or cleansing. It is fully equipped with all it needs with no help from us. Nothing accumulates in our intestines and our kidneys and liver (among other organs) help to process and flush out any toxins in our blood stream. QuackWatch and the website Science-Based Medicine have some interesting things to say about detoxing.
If you are feeling low energy, sluggish, bloated or other intestinal discomforts, there are better and actual proven ways to improve these symptoms without having to pay mega bucks for a juice cleanse that will not get to the root of the cause.
The problem is that juice cleanses (and other detoxes) are being advocated everywhere from fitness centers to yoga studios. When you hear your super fit yoga instructor discuss his or her recent juice cleanse, there is no question that you may be tempted to do one as well. However, all bodies are different and react differently when drastic dietary changes are made. The fact is, juice cleansing is like every other fad diet and is merely a way for companies to make mega money while putting consumers health at risk.
Co-written with Jenna West, dietetic intern
Updated August 22nd, 2017