A large group of work colleagues recently decided to join together and do a three day juice cleanse. My immediate response, “No thanks, I like solid food too much.” As the days progressed there was plenty of complaining but they continued to stand by their belief that it would help them in a variety of ways such as losing weight, gaining energy and removing toxins. About half managed to make it a full three days. The rest explained that they either didn’t like the taste of the juice or were just too tired. But those that finished swore by cleansing and said they would do it again in a heartbeat. So I decided to do some research – was a juice cleanse really all it was cracked up to be?
Most juice cleanses limit you to fresh, unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juice for either a few days or a few weeks. They claim it is a way to get in your daily serving of fruit and vegetables. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, you should have two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables (1 cup per serving) so I’d say that claim is pretty fair. Seven cups of fruit and vegetables per day is a pretty significant amount.
According to US News, juice cleanses claim that you get the most benefits from vegetables and fruit when they are in juice form. However, US News could find no reliable research to claim that there are more nutrients in juices as opposed to eating fruits and vegetables whole.
And what about the claims by my co-workers that they could lose weight and keep up their energy levels? Livestrong.com states that juices lack the protein and fat which your body needs to function. Without fat, for example, your skin and hair will be affected negatively.
Plus, similar to a diet like Atkins where you’re restricted to the food groups you eat, you lose a significant amount of weight at first but gain it all back once those foods are re-incorporated into your diet.
Judith Newman, a writer from the New York Times experimented with a juice cleanse and explained, “Your body wants and expects food. And as with most crash diets, which is really what this is, your body thinks it’s starving. It doesn’t know it’s going to get more food. So it lowers your metabolism, and if you do this enough, it can lower your metabolism permanently.”
As for toxins, your liver, kidney and intestines filter everything just fine on their own. No need for an expensive cleanses (the one my co-workers did cost about $65 a day!).
What I learned from all my research is that there is no magic cure out there. The key is everything in moderation. Plus, I find I’m more likely to stick to a diet that allows me some variety and doesn’t cut out any food group entirely. However, according to USA Today, if you are going to do a cleanse, short is best. Replace one meal a day with a juice to help meet your recommended daily serving of vegetables and fruit.