Searching for healthy dietary advice on the internet can be pretty tricky, because anyone (and we do mean anyone) is capable of typing up their opinion and passing it off as sound nutritional information, though it is anything but. Unfortunately, much of this can result in futile fad dieting at best, and disordered eating at worst.
Doing a "juice cleanse detox" is one such trend that has amassed quite a following because in theory, it sounds pretty good. If fruits and vegetables are healthy, then spending a few days only consuming their juices must be the easiest way to cram your body full of powerful nutrients, sweeping away toxins and impurities, right? Since you're extracting out the solid parts of fruits and vegetables, you're able to consume more in a shorter amount of time, right?
While it might sound that way on paper, the truth of the matter isn't as sunny. Here are 9 reasons why going on a juice cleanse is not only ineffective, but could actually be dangerous.
1. Your body is able to remove toxins magnificently on its own, making a cleanse pointless.
While it is true that your body loves being purified from toxins, it's actually pretty well equipped to handle the job on its own. You possess several organs that play a role in keeping nutrients that come into your body, while getting rid of waste products. Your liver, kidneys, and intestines are all designed to maintain homeostasis and get rid of harmful substances in your body. Just remember that every time you go to the bathroom, you have proof that your body is capable of detoxing itself, without the need to go on a juice fast.
2. Juicing leaves the fiber behind.
While your body is capable of taking care of itself, good nutrition does matter in keeping things running smoothly. Unfortunately, a juice cleanse intentionally removes the fiber-containing solid parts of the produce that is responsible for moving the process along. While humans aren't good at digesting fiber itself, it plays an important role in digestive health, and is also linked to cardiovascular health. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and they're both important to overall health.
Insoluble fiber helps bulk up stool and makes it easier for the body to excrete solid waste, so removing it entirely for a juice cleanse can lead to constipation. Soluble fiber helps slow digestion, which leads to feeling fuller for longer (preventing overeating) and gives the body time to extract nutrients more slowly and evenly. By cutting out this type of fiber, you can absorb sugar too quickly, causing spikes that can be dangerous.
3. You might be taking in too much sugar.
Causing a blood sugar spike due to removing the fiber in juice is only compounded by the fact that a lot of the recipes for these cleanses involve a tremendous amount of fructose, the sugar found in fruit. While the sugar is "natural," that's not particularly helpful when there's so much of it.
For instance, one three-day cleanse posted on Dr. Oz's website contains over 100 grams of sugar per day just from the apples and oranges alone. The World Health Organization recommends an intake of only 25 grams per day.
Not only is this excess sugar dangerous for diabetics who can't regulate blood sugar very well, but a recent study by Swiss researchers found a link between extreme fructose consumption and heart failure.
4. You're losing out on protein as well.
Much as juice fasts lack fiber, protein is also lost during the juicing process. Your muscles need protein to rebuild (after working out or even just through daily use) and it's hard to get sufficient protein solely through juicing. When you lose weight during a juice cleanse, it's probably due to loss of muscle mass rather than fat.
5. If you have certain health issues, you could be putting yourself at serious risk.
The sugar spikes that come with juice diets are not just dangerous for diabetics. Those with digestive issues, pregnant women, and people with certain autoimmune disorders will not respond favorably to such an extreme diet, or to ingesting some of the ingredients in juice in such large concentrations.
6. If you don't already have underlying health issues, you could be creating them.
Dedicating yourself to an extreme low calorie, low macro-nutrient diet can wreak havoc on metabolism, mental clarity, kidney function, and a number of other processes.
7. Going through cleansing cycles isn't what your body wants.
Following a juice "cleanse," solid food will look downright magical. As you eat to make up for days of not chewing and taking in minimal calories, your body will turn the new supply of calories into fat, in preparation for the next time you decide to withhold food from yourself for days at a time. You'll actually gain back weight that you lost, and assuming you lost muscle rather than fat during the fast, you could be worse off than you were before.
This extreme yo-yo method of dieting is extremely ineffective and is actually a disordered form of eating, as it is a binge and purge cycle on a large scale.
(Whether or not you plan to make a regular thing out of fasting is irrelevant; because your body doesn't know it. All it knows is that it didn't get food for a while, and is scared it might happen again.)
8. Juicing is really expensive.
Depending on where you shop, buying fruits and vegetables doesn't have to be that expensive. However, because the juicing process takes away most of their bulk by eliminating the solid components, an individual will go through an incredible amount of produce during a fast. Spending all that money and you end up throwing most of it away anyway? Not a great plan.
Buying pre-made juices is also a lot pricier than eating normally, but also contain less nutrients and more preservatives than making your own. (Some can cost over $120 for a three-day supply)
9. There are better alternatives.
If you would still prefer to drink your produce rather than chew it, consider a smoothie instead. You'll use fewer fruits and vegetables, but actually use the entire piece of food, retaining all of the nutrients. While you do need a pricier blender to make a smooth drink, it's comparable in cose to a juicer of equal quality.
Most importantly, remember that a healthy diet isn't a diet at all; it's a lifestyle. If you want to keep your body in good shape, minimize the amount of processed food you consume, and keep all of your food groups in balance.
Juice cleanses are extreme and offer extreme promises, but if they don't even work and could actually be downright dangerous, what's the point?
[H/T: Business Insider]
[Header image: iStockphoto/monticelllo]