Are your jeans feeling a little tight after a long winter’s nap? Or maybe you miss the much-needed energy you once had to tackle the day’s tasks. I feel the same way. These days, many people are turning to juice cleanses as the miracle solution for everything from quick weight loss and energy boosting, to treating the common cold and achy joints. For those who swear by the healing properties of a juice cleanse, there are many more who have concerns about their effectiveness and health. Both camps agree that there are worse methods out there for consumers, but is there a place for juice cleanses in our overall wellness routine?
If you are looking at doing a juice cleanse, here are five things to think about before you start.
The matter of toxins
A big marketing plug for cleansing is its ability to remove toxins from the body. But, if you are just tuning into the body’s functions, you will be surprised to learn your body is ridding itself of toxins every day. Those claims make Eric Ravussin, PhD., associate executive director for clinical science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and his peers in the medical community, more than a little concerned. “I don’t like the marketing around juice cleanses,” he says. “That it’s going to detox and mobilize all these toxins and all that — this is pure marketing.”
However, will your liver, kidneys, and intestines appreciate you consuming a juice as a break from your typical consumption of chocolate doughnuts and diet soda? Absolutely.
Fiber: good thing or bad thing?
A popular claim for juice cleansing is that the absence of fiber gives your digestive system a welcome break. The truth is, your digestive system enjoys doing its job. It doesn’t need a break. Joy Dubost, a registered dietitian, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, believes the limited fiber content of a juice cleanse is one of the drawbacks of doing one. “Fiber ensures proper function in the gastrointestinal tract. It promotes regularity and increases satiety, which allows a person to feel full longer,” Dubost says. “Getting more fiber in the diet may also reduce people’s risk of heart disease and cancer.”
If one day is good, are three days better?
There is a range of juice cleanses. Consumers can use a one-day cleanse up to a series that can last up to two weeks. So, if you have never done a juice cleanse, is there an advantage to using one that lasts longer? “Probably not. There’s no harm in one day,” Keri Gans, registered dietitian, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says. “But to be on cleanses or juice fasting or detox for weeks, you’re putting your body at nutritional risk.” Her research shows there’s no way you can meet all your nutritional needs, which consist of vitamins and minerals, from a beverage
Will it make me smarter?
Who wouldn’t want to feel smarter? The appeal of being able to decipher easily the assembly instructions for a wall shelf from IKEA is the goal of many of us. But is juice cleansing the key to mental clarity? Part of the problem is that most juice cleanses proudly announce they are free of sugars. But our brain relies on glucose to function. So, along with depriving your brain of sugars as well as calories your brain is hating life, especially with a juice cleansing series.
“After three days, your brain enters into semi-starvation mode and gobbles ketones, a fuel that comes from the breakdown of fat,” health writer Laura Beil says. “Ketones work, but they’re like low-grade gasoline; as a result, you may feel unfocused or irritable.” She added that your brain is also lacking amino acids, the raw materials that neurotransmitters need to maintain your mood.
Juice is a great partner in clean eating
Here’s the thing: Drinking a freshly blended juice drink isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. But, relying on juice as your sole source of nutrition creates concerns for health experts. The ideal plan is to supplement your healthy balanced meals with a vegetable or fruit juice.
Whether or not you decide to continue with the weekly juice cleanses, or if you are trying one for the first time, going forward with a realistic point-of-view concerning what the juice cleanse can truthfully do for you is a healthy strategy.