by Liberty Stembridge, Health Columnist
Published in Health on 16th April, 2019
Juice detoxes are all the rage at the moment, with proponents advocating that they can help ease digestive discomfort, remove toxins and even help with addiction.
Typically a juice detox or cleanse lasts up to three days and consists of consuming vegetable and fruit based juices to replace your main meals. Some juice cleanses will also include a few meals, typically very healthy and veggie based to complement the juices.
Others have said however that juice cleanses are nothing more than a fad diet designed to sell expensive juice detox products that have no real benefit.
If you're considering a juice detox - here's everything you need to know, pros cons, how's and why's.
So why bother with a Juice Detox at all? The most common reason for a juice cleanse is to "jumpstart" a new, healthier diet. For many people struggling with addiction to substances like caffeine, sugar and nicotine, juice cleanses have helped them to create a "blank slate" to create a new diet on and eliminate some of their cravings.
Proponents suggest that by drinking vegetable and fruit juice for a few days you can more readily absorb the nutrients from the plants, while letting your body do its job of processing the remaining sugar, caffeine, dairy and other harmful products from your system.
This then means that by the end of the juice cleanse your body is rid of those products and you are much less likely to crave them.
Although only drinking juice for three whole days may seem very difficult, many fans of juice cleanses say that by committing to a juice cleanse they found it easier to avoid cravings and unhealthy food, making the transition to a healthy diet a lot easier.
How do you know if a juice detox is for you? Well, there is only really one way to find out for sure, and that's to try it yourself. However, there are some warning signs to look out for that suggest that a juice cleanse might not be for you.
For those dealing with or who have dealt with eating disorders in the past, a juice detox can trigger harmful thoughts or patterns that may worsen or bring back disordered eating. It is therefore not recommended for anyone who struggles with this to undertake a juice detox, or any kind of detox, cleanse or fast.
When on a juice detox, you're naturally going to be consuming a lot less calories and as such, you're not going to have as much energy to burn off. Exercising while detoxing is not recommended, since you may end up fainting, losing too much weight or generally feeling very tired and exhausted.
If you're job requires a lot of activity (such as nursing or manual labour) then a juice detox is definitely not recommended.
For many medications to work effectively and not damage your stomach, you need to be eating plenty of food. This can help to protect your stomach lining and let the medication pass through you properly. If you are on any kind of medication and considering a juice cleanse, always consult a doctor first.
When it comes to juice cleanses, you'll often find that people are split down the middle, with one side saying that juice cleanses are incredible, and others insisting that they are very harmful. In reality, there isn't much evidence for either side - so let's look at both the pros and cons of a juice cleanse.
When you're on a juice cleanse, you're guaranteed to be consuming a lot of fruit and veggies, which is great, especially if you don't commonly consume a lot of them. Getting some of the extra vitamins and nutrients that fruits and veggies provide can help you to boost your immune system and brain power.
As mentioned before, many people start juice cleanses to help them deal with mild addictions and cravings for substances such as coffee, dairy, sugar and more. By cutting out all foods for a few days, your body can clear out the remainder of he substances and have a "fresh start".
For many people on a juice cleanse, drinking the same 3 veggies and fruit juices every day can get very dull very quickly, forcing them to try new foods to try and discover what they do and don't like. If you've found yourself sticking to the same limited number of fruits and veggies as well, incorporating some juicing into your life may be beneficial.
For many people, a juice cleanse signifies the start of a newer, healthier lifestyle. By detoxing and fasting for a few days, many people have found that it is easier to continue a healthier diet afterwards, rather than switching immediately.
For those looking to lose weight on a juice cleanse, you probably won't get amazing results, especially not in the long term. You may seemingly shed a few pounds, but they will quickly come back on once you start eating regularly again - it takes sustained healthy eating and exercise in order to actually lose weight.
Juice cleanses can cause extreme spikes in blood sugar if you're not careful, which is why they are not recommended for diabetics. This is because of the sugar found in fruit, which is a lot easier for your body to absorb in juice form, and without any fibre to counteract it, your blood sugar levels and swing quite violently. In the long term this probably won't be very harmful, but it is important to consider.
Humans were not made to survive off juices alone, and so when you do you will end up depriving yourself of some essential nutrients such as fibre and carbohydrates. Although this probably won't cause long lasting harm, it can be difficult to deal with the side effects.
The lack of these nutrients can result in side effects such as lightheadedness and fatigue, which can make day to day life more difficult, especially if you have a busy schedule or demanding work life.
There are a few important elements that you'll need to prepare properly if you want to have a successful detox.
Prior to a detox, many people like to go through a "cleansing phase" where you start to cut out certain products like meat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates. Not only does this help to start clearing your system of these substances, but it can also help to lessen cravings once you do start your juice detox.
Before you start a juice cleanse, you'll also want to decide on your methodology and stock up on produce. The last thing you want when detoxing is to be forced into going shopping and resisting all the foods you can't have. If you have a juicer and want to DIY your detox, making your own juices can be cheaper and more rewarding, plus you have more flexibility over what goes in your body.
Alternatively, you can buy pre-prepared juice kits online or from local juice cafes if you have one near you. These will often come with the exact right amount that you'll need, so you won't have to worry about calculating anything or overspending.
Once you've successfully completed your detox, you'll probably want to eat everything you lay your eyes on, but it's important to restrain yourself. Introducing lot's of greasy fast food, carb-heavy meals or dairy can upset your stomach very quickly, so try to stick to simple healthy meals at first and then reintroduce what you want. This should also hopefully help you to stick to a new diet if that is something you're aiming for.