After an indulgent vacation of splurging on delicious food or a long weekend of dining out too much, I can sometimes feel a little unhealthy – a little bloated and weighed down. And if you are like me, you may have seen enticing reviews and advertisements for a juice cleanse and have been tempted by its promises. And we are not alone. Cold pressed juices are America’s number 1 choice to rid the body of toxins with sales amounting to $100 million yearly!
So what is a juice cleanse? It’s a “detoxification” diet that can last anywhere from just a few days to several weeks where you would drink juices made from fruit and vegetables and avoid any solid food. You
may have met people or heard that a juice cleanse really lifted their mood, gave them energy, decreased their cravings for sugar, and increased their appetite for whole, nutritious foods. Juice companies claim that it is a way to “reset your digestive system” and possibly even “boost your immunity”.
So what benefits occur if you do go on a juice cleanse? You can actually gain a new perspective on what allergies you may have. Since juice diets eliminate foods such as dairy and gluten, you may discover if these foods cause you ailments. You will also likely lose weight since your caloric intake will be very low. You may also likely get nutrients that you otherwise may not get if your diet typically tends to contain a lot of carbohydrates or junk food. A juice cleanse may also decrease your appetite for salty or sugary snacks.
But the scientific community including doctors and dieticians have not proven that a juice cleanse is actually beneficial and can cause some harmful effects. The weight that a person loses on a juice cleanse is actually short term and you may even gain weight back after the cleanse. This happens for multiple reasons: the weight loss during the
diet is actually just water weight rather than fat, consuming just juice can actually cause your metabolism to slow down, and you may find yourself reaching for that donut after depriving yourself for so long. Also, if you have caffeine daily, it is very likely that you will experience withdrawal and get a headache, lose focus, and feel lightheaded. A detrimental effect if you are on a juice cleanse for too long is slow nail and hair growth because you are not consuming needed fats or proteins. And because juice cleanses are chock full of sugar, too long a juice diet may even lead to liver damage. In addition, juicing eliminates fiber from the diet, an essential part of a diet to keep you regular. And if you think about it, not being able to eat solid food can lead you to being very cranky!
There are many other ways to improve your diet without foregoing all solid food for a period of time. Drinking more water daily can also work just as well to help rid the body of toxins and it’s much cheaper. Incorporating exercises like yoga that include meditation and deep breathing may also help you feel a lot better after a long weekend of indulging. Adding vegetable or fruit juice to your diet once in a while may give you more nutrients in your diet that you may have not otherwise had. And avoiding salt and sugar for a few days can definitely decrease bloating after partaking in too much wining and dining.
But if you do plan to do a juice cleanse anyway, it’s best to do your research and make sure the juices for your diet are appropriate and safe. Remember that it’s okay to indulge in moderation and to try your best to eat a healthier diet to balance out the splurge. And of course, always consult with your doctor before going on any diet to decide if it’s the best choice for you.
Originally from Orange County, California, Karen Tran-Harding is a radiology resident physician that found love, education, life lessons, and two corgis in the heart of the bluegrass. She has interest in medical media and education. She is a regular contributor to StantonMD and Everyday Medicine.