What Really Happens to Your Body When You Go on a Juice Cleanse?
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Could you handle drinking six juices in one day without eating any food? This regimen, better known as a juice cleanse, is marketed as a way to remove toxins from the body and reduce cravings for processed, unhealthy food.
One popular juice cleanse company is BluePrint, which sells three different types of cleanses that vary in intensity. Each cleanse, priced at $65 a day, contains six juices. “The main purpose of a juice cleanse is to help cleanse the blood by eliminating or reducing toxins that can build up over time,” says Christine de Sciora, head of BluePrint Concierge Services. “A cleanse also gives your digestive system a break, and the juices with high Vitamins A and C content can help support immunity.” The BluePrint cleanse is meant to help you feel better mentally and physically, and the food elimination is not to lose excess weight in a short period of time. de Sciora mentions that it is common for you to experience a reduction in cravings and feel more in control of making healthy diet choices following the cleanse.
According to registered dietitian Lauren Blake, people typically try cleanses if they want to lose weight or rid their body of harmful toxins. Although it could be helpful in the short term, she points out that a cleanse is not a long-term solution, as our bodies are natural cleansing systems. “A one-day juice cleanse may be a good way to get your nutrient intake up to par, however there is no evidence that it actually removes toxins,” Blake says. “Our body has a great detox system built in: our kidneys and our liver.”
Blake points out that with a short juice cleanse, people can feel increased energy due to an increase in quick-absorbing carbohydrates and hydration. However, the low fiber and protein in long-term cleanses could hurt your body. “When we don’t have adequate protein in our body, it breaks down muscle tissue instead,” Blake says. “Long-term cleanses can actually cause people to lose muscle, not fat. Long-term calorie deficiency can alter your metabolism and slow it down.” Blake suggests eating a diet high in whole foods and without processed foods if you are looking to cleanse. Juice lacks fiber or protein, so Blake says that in addition to juice, it is important to eat whole, solid foods.
There are many different reasons that people want to experience a juice cleanse despite advice like this. If you're going to undertake one, it is important to have the right mindset and do it healthily.
“I would recommend a juice cleanse for anyone looking to get off of addictive foods, clear up certain health issues, lose weight, or transition to a healthier lifestyle,” says Ana Goldseker, certified nutritional consultant and director of nutrition for Nava Health and Vitality Center. “That said, we always recommend consulting with a certified nutrition expert before beginning a cleanse.”
It is really easy to make mistakes with the cleanse by not preparing or recovering adequately. Goldseker mentions that after the cleanse, people have trouble transitioning out and negative impacts can occur. She recommends working with a nutritionist to make sure you are receiving the proper nutrients before, during and after the cleanse.
If you choose to try a juice cleanse, your body will be experiencing a lot during the course of the day. Similar to other cleanses, the BluePrint cleanse has you consume the juices in a specific order to that your body can easily assimilate to the cleanse. The day starts with a green juice and ends with cashew milk. “Green juice is alkalizing and drinking it first thing in the morning will help to maintain a healthy pH balance,” de Sciora says. “The last juice of the day is always our cashew milk, because its plant-based fats and proteins help to keep you satiated at night time. “
The most important concept to process is that going on a juice cleanse will not make you healthier or cause you to shed 10 pounds in one day. Internist and cardiologist Morton E. Tavel, a well-known debunker of health myths, says that the whole idea of a juice cleanse is a flawed concept and is a health scam.
"The basic concept of 'detoxifying' is blatantly flawed, because our natural processes, especially liver and kidney function, cleanse our bodies far better than any extrinsic activities or substances could possibly achieve,” Tavel writes in his blog, echoing Lauren Blake.
Despite the conflicting advice, if you do decided to try a juice cleanse, I've compiled a list of what to expect. This should help you mentally prepare for the cleanse.
Before the Cleanse
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If you do not incorporate a lot of raw foods into your diet already, such as fruits and vegetables, the days before the cleanse are very important for you. “Preparation is the key to ensuring a happy, safe and successful cleanse,” de Sciora says. “We recommend that a few days before you begin the cleanse, you start to phase out meat, added sugars, dairy, wheat, and caffeine from your diet. Ideally, the day before you begin your cleanse you will be eating mostly raw fruits and veggies.”
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“One of the body’s most difficult jobs is digestion,” Goldseker says. “A carefully monitored detox program, like a juice cleanse, allows the body to focus on the process of elimination instead of digestion. It is a great way for the body to detox from gluten, dairy, and sugar.”