A juice cleanse may sound promising at first. But don’t be surprised when all you feel is hungry and fatigued at the end of the gruelling process.
What is a juice detox?
In simple terms, juice detox is a process where you replace your solid meals and only drink juice and water for a certain amount of time. Now, this time period can last from a brief three days to anywhere around several weeks. A basic juice detox involves abstaining from eating almost anything solid, while encouraging a diet of fruit and vegetable juices. Sometimes they also include herbs and supplements to aid the detoxification process. Most dieticians claim that drinking juice cleanses our body of all the harmful toxins and promotes healthy circulation; however there has been very little research conducted in this area and almost none of them have concrete conclusions.
What does research say?
A study by Dr. A V Klein. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, states that although the detox industry is booming, there is very little clinical evidence to support the use of these diets. A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body, although these studies are hampered by flawed methodologies and small sample sizes. “This is an area that deserves attention so that consumers can be informed of the potential benefits and risks of detox programmes,” Klein adds.
Side effects of juice detox
The first thing that comes to mind while thinking of getting on a juice cleanse hype-train is “How can someone not eat for days?” Almost all detox diets recommend fasting or severe calorie restriction; and according to a study by Dr A M Johnstone, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, U.K, both short and long term juice fasts can lead to health-related problems like fatigue, loss of energy, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and in some extreme cases even death. Another study by Dr Jane E Getting, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A states that an oxalate-rich diet may potentially precipitate acute renal failure in patients with chronic kidney disease. Studies show that juicing followed by heavy consumption of oxalate-rich juices also appears to be a potential cause of oxalate nephropathy and acute renal failure.
Furthermore, do we even need an external detox when the same process takes place every single day in our bodies, without any trendy diet to fuel it? A healthy liver breaks down amino acid proteins to aid the digestion process and along the way turns the toxic ammonia into urea, which is later excreted via the urine. So the key to promoting detoxification might be drinking more water, instead of juice. In fact, a study by Dr Lidia Palma, Research Centre for Health, Science and Technologies, Universidade, Lusofona, Campo Grande, Lisbon, Portugal states that dietary water is essential for removing harmful toxins like urea and carbon dioxide from the body.
Is it right for you?
“A juice detox is a chance to give your body and especially your digestive system a break. Having fruit and vegetable juice means the nutrients skip the tedious process of digestion and reach exactly where they need to be,” says Shweta Shah, celebrity nutritionist and the founder of EatFit24/7. “And even though they might not help you achieve all that’s written on the label—they are still making you eat all the vitamin rich fruits and vegetables that you would’ve otherwise traded in for a Big Mac,” she adds. According to a research conducted by Dr Mi Joung Kim, Department of Food and Nutrition, College of Natural Sciences, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, Korea, a group of overweight Korean women were fed a mixture of lemon juice and organic syrup for seven days and the all-juice diet significantly reduced body weight, BMI, body fat percentage and also aided insulin resistance and leptin levels. However, the same study clarified that these results are unlikely to be maintained in the long term unless paired with rigorous physical activity.
What most juice cleanse plans fail to mention is that no matter how healthy the idea of a liquid diet might sound, it’s still devoiding your body of the necessary roughage while also leaving you hungrier than before—something that might later encourage binge eating. And at the end, fruit juices are better when treated as a supplement, rather than a meal replacement. Drinking a glass of water and eating a whole apple is proven to do much more for the natural digestion and detoxification process than any amount of juice ever will.
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