It’s all the rage, from celebrities to internet fitness guru’s, juice your way out of illness or into those skinny jeans (does anyone wear those anymore?!?). Seems logical, take the two most powerful food groups, fruits and vegetables (the latter most people don’t like to eat), and squeeze them into a palatable tasting glass or $10.00 “made fresh today” bottle of nutrient filled goodness. Juice cleanse, juice detox, juice fast, whatever you call it, many use it as the go-to jump start to their health revolution (note, I said “revolution” not “evolution”…for some, it’s a true fight!) and/or a perception that they have “cleaned the slate”. But is there any truth to this? Let’s find out if..
The juice is worth the squeeze (of your wallet!)
Q: What is a juice cleanse or juice fast?
A: It refers to a diet of only juice extracted from fruits and vegetables, typically for a period of 3 to 10 days. Lots of different fruits and vegetables are used, and often herbs like parsley, cilantro, and spices like cayenne and turmeric. Nothing else is consumed, especially foods that require active digestion.
Q: Why has it become so popular?
A: 1) It’s easy to do 2) It seems logical to people 3) Versions of it have been around for 100yrs. We all know that fruits and vegetables are healthy for us, we don’t eat enough of them, so we think if we concentrate them down (juicing), we’ll be all good. Plus most of us can stand drinking 8oz of grassy, spicey, bitter juice vs. eating cups upon cups of vegetables. Add in that certain health philosophies such as the Gerson Therapy (cancer) use juicing as a form of treatment, with varied success…juicing has a lot of attractive elements to it.
Q: Does it work?
A: For less than 10 days, research has shown it helps with weight loss, but that’s about it. Even longer, clinical research is limited on other benefits. I’ve seen and read the multiple testimonials (specifically celery juice and Gerson Therapy), but it’s hard to say the benefits were primarily driven by the juicing. They all involve cleaning up your diet, removing toxins and irritates (e.g. gluten, dairy, allergens, etc..), increasing hydration, and taking in more nutrient density…just that goes a very long way!
Q: So it does help with weight loss?
A: Kinda. You end up losing weight because it’s calorie restrictive and you’re shedding a lot of water (water weight). Most studies show you gain the weight back within a couple weeks and if you have lost weight, it’s more muscle than fat.
Q: Does juicing detox or cleanse you?
A: Research says for short-term (3-5 days), NO. Your body already has a very efficient and powerful detoxing system (e.g. liver, kidneys, lymphatic system), flushing the body with water and/or providing highly concentrated vitamins/minerals does not provide an enhanced support. In my opinion, longer bouts, would be beneficial in repair and recovery and I would lean towards much more water and fasting (no food or drink, besides water) strategies. In addition, fiber, which is one of natures most powerful detoxifying nutrients is removed from juicing, so I would add that back in.
Q: Are there any benefits to juicing?
A: Yes. No question it does provide more nutrients to the body. That’s what I liked about the Gerson Therapy, the high, concentrated amounts of nutrients in a time of great deficiency for patients. It also provides for a jump-start to many who are looking to lose weight or get healthy. Psychological “wins” are just as important as physiological at times. I also like for those who do not eat any fruits and vegetables (which is a shame), they at least get something.
Q: How would I juice the best?
A: Juicing can contain a lot of sugars and calories, IF you use a lot of fruit. I would load up my juice with vegetables, herbs, spices, I know, not exciting or tasty, but it’s healthier! I wouldn’t put more fruit in my juice than I would typically eat at one sitting, maybe a bit less because I don’t even have the fiber from the veggies. I would also drink it when it’s very fresh, I’d make it myself and drink it within 30min. The second you strip away the protection (fiber/pectins) from fruits/vegetables, they start breaking down and can develop harmful bacteria.
Q: Who shouldn’t juice?
A: Diabetics, anyone who has issues with Fructose sugar, if you have kidney or renal disease, if you’re pregnant or nursing. Juicing will significantly increase the amount of certain nutrients, good – like Potassium and bad – like Oxalates, and this can be detrimental to individuals.
Q: Do you juice?
A: Every once and a while. I do not do it to detox or lose weight, and it’s part of my nutritional diet with other foods. It’s a great way to give my body of fresh, concentrated, organic nutrients, easily. I use lots of vegetables and load it up with herbs and spices. My juice is filled with ginger, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, oregano, etc..