Juice cleanses are very trendy right now. Every Hollywood star raves about them, Dr. Oz gushes over each week’s new juicing diet, and juice bars are springing up to offer every possible fruit reduced to its purest nectar. But are juice cleanses safe? How about effective?
Juice-based beverage sales are a billion dollar business. Is there any benefit beyond the yummy taste? Scientific research is scant, at best. Anecdotal results are everywhere, though. Throw a rock, hit a juice cleanse acolyte. Everyone is juicing and spending their day proclaiming how great they feel. They are detoxed and metabolically reset and ready to take on the world. Huh?
One fundamental principle of the juice cleanse is that our bodies benefit from cleansing the toxins from our digestive system. That sounds reasonable until you consider what toxins ARE in our digestive system. It turns out that modern medicine can’t actually identify any toxins that are flushed by a juice cleanse.
Instead of helping our digestive system, many juice cleanses do just the opposite. The manufacturing process for many cold-pressed juices (revered by juice cleansers) actually removes all of the healthy fiber from the juice. The juice still contains nice vitamins and a blast of fruit sugar (fructose), but the fiber that helps our digestion and has been shown to lower cholesterol is left at the juice factory.
Is a juice cleanse dangerous? If you cleanse for a day or two (or even three), you probably won’t hurt yourself. Exercise should be restricted and you may feel sluggish, moody or constipated. Once your cleanse gets past day two, though, you are entering dangerous territory. Without a balanced diet, your body will begin to metabolize muscle tissue and you can find yourself in a rapid spiral toward serious health issues.
So if you’re feeling left out, feel free to try a one- or a two-day juice cleanse. The juice is delicious and you’ll have something fascinating to talk about for days to come. But if you want to help your digestive system and (maybe) lose some weight? Check out a balanced diet instead. Your body will thank you.