Juices, cleanses, detox diets. They're all the rage right now. And they were a few years ago, and I'm sure they will be again. People jump on the bandwagon for all different reasons: to kickstart weight loss, cleanse their bodies of toxins, boost their immune systems. But are any of the claims valid? Are they worth the money or effort expended? I say no!
Detoxes and juice cleanses just simply don't have the science to back up the health claims they make. Will they help you lose weight? Sure, for a few days. You're essentially eliminating all fat and a lot of protein from your diet. As well as a lot of fiber, which holds onto water, therefore you'll drop some water weight too. But it's not effective for weight loss in the long run. Or much else!
Yet, it seems like everytime I look at Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, someone is juicing. And I've gotten a ton of questions lately about what the "best" juice cleanse is. So I figured I'd weigh in and tell you why my argument is to just EAT REAL FOOD and skip the cleanses:
1. You don't need juice to "cleanse" your system. Guess what? Your body is BUILT to do this on its own! Our GI tract, liver and kidneys are all specifically designed to filter out waste products, chemicals and toxins. More over, juice cleanses eliminate a lot of the fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole foods, thus reducing the bulk of our stool. Increased bulk from fiber helps trap "toxins" to be removed through our waste, helping our filtering organs function properly.
2. There is no substantial evidence that juicing is any healthier than consuming fruits/vegetables in whole form. As I previously mentioned, you lose some of the fiber and other beneficial properties (antioxidants) that can be found in skin, pulp and seeds. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugars like fructose, so juices can cause a more rapid spike in blood sugar. This is just one of many reasons juice cleanses are often contraindicated for people with medical conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease.
3. Why drink when you can eat? Gulping down a juice is much less satisfying and less filling than biting into and chewing a whole piece of fruit. Juicing can leave you feeling deprived and craving more.
4. You're missing out on essential nutrients. I'm not a fan of most any restrictive diet (unless it's medically indiciated as with allergies or Crohn's/Colitis). Elimating specific foods from your diet creates gaping holes of important macro and micronutrients. Without adequate protein, your body can actually become more immunocompromised and unable to rebuild. Eliminating fats decreases absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K.
5. Use it or lose it. This is often said of the brain, but is definitely relevant to our gastrointestinal tract too! Contrary to popular belief (or claims from cleanse companies), rest does not promote a healthy gut!!! Providing the gut with adequate nutrients allows the good bacteria to breakdown protein, carbohydrate and fat into the amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids our bodies can utilize.
But....you've heard great things about juice cleanses! Your friend felt great after doing one! Your co-worker has never felt more rejuvinated or energetic! Unfortunately, this is most likely a placebo effect. And there's nothing wrong with that! If you feel healthier and better after adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet, by all means add them in! This R.D. won't stop you! But I will tell you to include them as part of a balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
If you still want a liquid treat, choose a blended drink like a smoothie...and go heavier on veggies than fruits. My go-to? Combine 1 cup greens, 1/2 cup berries, 1/2 banana, and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with ice and enjoy! :)
What do you think? Have you done a juice cleanse? Thinking about starting one? Shoot me your thoughts, questions or concerns! :)