Does a Juice Cleanse Work? 7 Truths About The Fad

Going on a juice cleanse, or drinking nothing but pressed juices extracted from fruits and vegetables for a few days or weeks, has been all the rage over the past few years. They promise weight loss, body detoxification and the treatment and prevention of everything from the common cold to cancer. But are they safe? Can they do more harm than good? Get the facts below, and then decide whether to juice or not to juice!

What is a Juice Cleanse/Fast?

During a juice fast or cleanse, a person limits their diet to only fresh vegetable and fruit juices and water for anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The fast focuses on freshly made, unpasteurized juice, so the usual bottles of OJ that you would pick up at the corner store wouldn’t be allowed.

Many of juicing’s benefits are more anecdotal than scientifically based; chances are you know an enthusiastic juicing friend or two. Many claim that juicing vegetables and fruits allows you to absorb the nutrients easier than eating them, since less digestive work is needed. Proponents also claim that following a juice-only diet can help your body detox, which may lead to more energy, clearer skin, and fewer digestive and other health issues.

Does a Juice Cleanse Work?

The lack of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of juicing has led to conflicting information about whether it’s a do or a don’t. Most experts, however, agree that going on a juice fast is unnecessary for ridding your body of toxins. Our liver and kidneys are already effective at eliminating any unneeded waste, so following a liquid-based diet won’t help any more than normal, although giving up junk foods and processed ingredients can only help give your digestive system a rest.

The Juice Cleanse Claims:

  1. It’s an easy way to add servings of vegetables and fruits to your diet. That’s one reason fans of the juice cleanse say the diet is so healthy: You can fit a lot of fruit and veggie servings into one big glass of juice.
  2. We get more health benefits from fruits and veggies in juice form. You’ll find the following sentence, or something very similar, on almost every juice cleanse Proponents of cleanses will even tell you that drinking juice “gives the digestive system a break” from breaking down fiber. In reality, fiber helps with digestion.
  3. Overweight? We guarantee you’ll lose weight! Cleanse fanatics claim the diet is great for weight loss
  4. Everything else you want a magic pill for. Juice cleanse websites tout the diet’s ability to make you feel more energized, boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, make your skin glow and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

7 Truths About The Juice Cleanse Fad:

1. Juice Cleanse Can Be Dangerous

People undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, people with nutritional deficiencies and people with kidney disease should not try a juice fast. The high sugar consumption involved in juice fasts can skyrocket blood-sugar levels in diabetics, which can result in fatigue, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, excessive hunger and thirst, and wounds or infections that heal more slowly than usual. The high levels of potassium and minerals from excessive juice consumption can build up in the blood to hazardous levels in those with kidney disease. And the high levels of antioxidants and low levels of protein can be dangerous for those undergoing chemo.

2. Juice Fasts Can Leave Out Nutrients

You should always be skeptical when a diet requires extreme restrictions and cuts out entire food groups. There’s a reason dietary guidelines include various categories of food: You can’t get all of your essential vitamins and minerals out of just one. Juice fasts frequently lack substantial amounts of protein and fat. Few fruits contain significant amounts of fat and protein, and vegetables that contain these macronutrients — such as avocados, beans and lentils — do not lend themselves to juicing. Without sufficient protein, your body has no raw materials with which to build new tissue. A lack of fat leaves your skin and hair in poor shape and contributes to malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins. If you’re not getting enough calories, your body could start using muscle tissue instead of fat for energy.

3. Juice Cleanse Is Not A Effective Way To Lose Weight And Keep It Off

Will you lose weight? Probably — you’re cutting out all of the fat from your diet and drastically lowering your caloric intake. But you’ll most likely put it right back on after the fast.  It’s not a great way to lose weight, because you’ll gain it all back — you yo-yo. The weight you lose is water weight and this type of deprivation can also result in dizziness, nausea, constipation, fatigue and irritability. Additionally, if you do this to your body enough, you could permanently lower your metabolism.

4. There Isn’t Much To Detox

The fact is, though, our body does an excellent job of this already; our liver, kidneys and intestines filter the unwanted things we ingest and expel them through urine, bowel movements, breath and sweat. We don’t need to punish ourselves with strict juice-only diets to eliminate the bad stuff.

5. But My Friend Said Their Juice Cleanse Was Amazing!

It’s true. Many people who try these detox diets report having more energy and feeling more focused. However, as Mayo Clinic explains, this could be due to the belief that they’re doing something good for their bodies.

6. Juice Cleanses Are Less Filling Than Whole Fruits And Veggies

You’re not going to feel as satisfied and full if you drink your meals instead of chewing them. Additionally, the fiber that’s been left out of the juice would have helped slow consumption and make you feel more sated.

7. Juice Cleanses Are Not Better Than Whole Fruits And Vegetables

While the juice form does hydrate and supply nutrients, there’s no reliable scientific research to support claims that juicing your produce is healthier than eating it whole. Actually, the fiber and some of the antioxidants found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables are often eliminated in the juicing process. For example, the white pulp in an orange provides flavonoids, but that’s usually left behind.

“Do Juice Cleanses Work? 7 Truths About The Fad”, Written for Vertex Fitness Personal Training Studio by Ashvini Mashru, RD


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