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Are Juice Cleanse Diets A Dangerous Fad?

Recently, diet fads like Atkins and South Beach have fallen off the radar in the world of health and fitness. But it seems a new trend is taking their place—juice cleanse diets.

In essence, juicing is extracting the juice from whole fruits and veggies. Most people choose to cleanse for weight loss and/or to detoxify the body. It may sound healthy, but the skepticism comes when a person is living off only juice and no whole foods.

The human body naturally detoxifies itself every day, eliminating and neutralizing toxins through the skin, lymph glands, lungs, kidneys, colon, and liver. But environmental toxins of life today, such as chemicals and pollutants in the air, are often more than an average human body can handle. When foreign substances enter into the body, it will store them outside of the elimination system, and they begin to build up in body fat.

In other words, if you just went on a European jaunt, and indulged in too much wine or gelato, or simply ate too much of the wrong foods, detoxifying for a short period of time through a juice cleanse diet may be the solution. A typical juice fast lasts 1 to 5 days; however, it is important to make sure that an only-juice cleanse is the right choice for your body. For many, cleanses including whole foods may be the best solution.1

What Are The Most Popular Juice Cleanse Diets?

1) The Blue Print Cleanse offers a few different levels of cleanses, depending on individual dietary history and preference. Level 1 is Renovation, and is recommended for new juice cleansers. It includes six bottles of juice per day: green juices, lemonade made with agave nectar, combination fruit juices, and cashew nut milk mixed with vanilla and cinnamon. Blue Print’s Level 2, the Foundation Cleanse, is similar to the Renovation cleanse; however, it’s more geared towards people who are already used to trying out new diets and maintaining an active lifestyle. Level 3, the Excavation Cleanse, is geared more towards people who are incredibly body conscious and already eat clean. It includes more of the vegetable juices, and less of the fruit juices. Blue Print is geared towards people with busy lives, who simply do not have the time to juice for every meal. Cleanse lengths vary depending on personal preference.

2) One three-day weekend juice cleanse was developed by a documentary filmmaker Joe Cross, who started juice cleansing as a way to lose 100 pounds, and to live a better life. However, his recommended cleanse includes whole foods (only fruits and veggies) at dinnertime. The rest of the three days include five juices, consisting of juices like Carrot Apple Ginger and the Mean Green, which includes kale, cucumbers, celery, apples, ginger, and lemon.

3) The 7-Day Juice Cleanse is a do-it-yourself plan, which calls for four to six juices per day, each with 16 to 20 ounces. The shopping list includes 13 different fruits and veggies, as well as garlic and ginger root, and it is recommended to take two trips to the grocery store. One warning of the cleanse, as well as many other similar cleanses, is there will be some dizziness and headaches, especially within the first few days of the cleanse, while the body is trying to adapt. While the juices are purely fruit and veggies, it’s acceptable to add spices like pepper, fresh mint, basil oregano, chives, or thyme, to give them a little kick.

Pros and Cons of Juice Cleanse Diets

Pros

  1. More Fruits & Veggies – Juice fasts help people to reach the recommended dietary intake of fruits and veggies, which is between five to thirteen servings daily, or 2 ½ to 6 ½ cups, depending on the person. Diets rich in fruits and veggies can help to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.2
  2. May Reduce Cholesterol Levels – Juice cleanses, combined with regular physical activity has shown to help in reducing cholesterol levels,3
  3. May Enhance Spirituality – Juice cleansing can go hand in hand with spirituality. Nearly every religion has some kind of fasting ritual, such as Yom Kippur, Lent, and Ramadan. In Chinese medicine, fasting is simply part of general healthcare. Many people are drawn to the idea of cleansing, whether it’s physically, psychologically, spiritually, or all three.

Cons

  1. Little Scientific Evidence Behind “Cleansing” Claims – There is currently very little scientific evidence revealing that juice fasting can remove toxins from the body.
  2. May Not Help With Sustained Weight Loss – Juice cleansing can actually not be helpful in weight loss efforts. Similar to any carbohydrate-restricting fad diet, water weight will come off during the cleanse, but will come right back afterwards.4
  3. Juice Cleanse Diets Can Be Expensive – Juice cleanses can be time-consuming, as well as expensive. More trips to the grocery store are usually necessary, and pre-made juice lines like Blue Print start at $55 for individual orders.

If your body and mind desires, try out a juice cleanse, but make sure it’s tailored to fit your needs, physically and emotionally. Talk to your doctor or dietitian before moving forward with any juice fast to decide on the best cleanse to suit your lifestyle.

Show 4 References

  1. Davis, J.L. Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body . WebMD. 2013.
  2. Fruits and Vegetables . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Jul 2013.
  3. Huber R, Nauck M, Lüdtke R, Scharnagl H. Effects of one week juice fasting on lipid metabolism: a cohort study in healthy subjects. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003;10(1):7-10.
  4. Davis, J.L. Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body . WebMD. 2013.

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5 Comments

  • Donnie Toivola says:

    This was a good read. One thing that I really encourage people to do while on their fast is to listen to their body. While it's great to have a plan, not everybody can follow the same plan.

    As with any attempt to lose weight, what you do after you lose the weight is the most important aspect of it. If you go on a fast and lose a good amount of weight but go back to your old eating habits, of course you will put the weight back on. That's with any diet, not just juice fasting.

    The act of juicing is just a stepping stone towards a more healthy life style. Weight loss just happens to be a symptom of juicing.

  • Vanessa Stasio says:

    One other point that's important to note with juicing is that depending on how the juice is extracted, certain nutrients, including fiber, may be lost in the processing. Some juicers leave behind pulp or skin of fruits and vegetables, which is often where most vitamins, minerals and fiber is found.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Thanks for sharing, Vanessa!

  • Aaron says:

    I really enjoy Caroline's contributions to the BuiltLean site.

    I'm happy to see juicing being taken more seriously over the last few years (I was getting tired of being called a hippie). The juice fast seems to have cast a shadow over the process and it's important to remember there are benefits to juicing that are more basic in nature. In general, using juice in addition to a healthy diet is more widely accepted by both conventional and modern health authorities. The method of juicing should be researched thoroughly as suggested toward the end of this article.

    Fasting has also been subject to scrutiny since being introduced as a weight management technique. This is unfortunate as it fails to address the biological and evolutionary sciences that justify the purpose of fasting. Feast or famine conditions existed not too long ago and far outweigh our food source availability with respect to our species development. Researching these topics can help to clear the air and assist in making better dietary choices.

  • Zach says:

    I do not refer to any product or juice diet listed in the article, but it seems we should take care with fruit juices or some of them; while certain whole fruits would be better, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health published in 2013:

    "Eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. Greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes." Read the article here: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/08/reduce-type-2-diabetes-risk/

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