Juice cleanses are one of the more popular “detox” diets on the market right now. But are juice cleanses healthy? A juice cleanse involves drinking only juices from fruits and vegetables over a designated period. They can last anywhere from three days to three weeks and are marketed as a way to start over after a stint of unhealthy eating, promising to flush toxins and deliver weight loss. But these claims are just claims; there’s a lack of scientific evidence to back up these promises. Here are some of the risks of a juice cleanse – and healthier lifestyle tips to try instead.
Types of juice cleanses
There are two main types of juice cleanses: traditional and blended. In a traditional juice cleanse, the fruits and vegetables are pressed to separate the juice from the pulp and fibrous parts of fruits and vegetables. In a blended juice cleanse, the fruits and vegetables are blended, similar to a smoothie, so a person consumes all of the edible fibrous parts of the fruits and vegetables. Nutrients and vitamins are present in juice so it’s an easy to way to give your body a lot of nutrients. However, juices can have less dietary fiber than whole fruits and vegetables. While consuming less fiber won’t hurt most people’s diets for a couple of days, it’s likely to make you feel hungry because fiber helps you feel satisfied. It’s important to make sure you are speaking with your health care provider before making any major changes to your diet.
Risks and potential side effects
While juice cleanses may seem innocent, they don’t provide the full variety of nutrients your body needs and may ultimately prove to be damaging. Here are some of the risks of only consuming juice.
- Low blood sugar and/or insufficient protein: Juice cleanses are much lower in calories than most people’s typical diet. So, there is a higher risk of experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar. Juice cleanses are also likely to be missing proteins, this can starve your cells and organs of necessary elements and lead to damage.
- Unsustainable weight loss: Juice diets are usually low in calories. A reduced calorie intake may result in temporary weight loss, but this change is rarely long lasting.
- Potential for exposure to harmful bacteria: Many blends for juice cleanses are unpasteurized so there is a higher likelihood that they contain bacteria. This can be especially problematic for people who have compromised immune systems, who are pregnant, or who have underlying medical issues.
- Effects on the kidneys: Juice cleanses can be harmful to the kidneys because some juices contain high levels of oxalate that contributes to kidney stones and other kidney issues. Foods high in oxalate include spinach and beets.
Instead of a restrictive juice cleanse, try adopting small, healthy habits to improve your overall health and well-being:
- Try incorporating more fruits and veggies by drinking a smoothie or adding them to meals.
- Drink more water: the Mayo Clinic recommends about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
- Cut out processed foods can reduce digestive issues, help you maintain a healthy weight and help increase energy levels.
- Decrease or eliminate caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar and saturated fats.
- Talk to your health care provider to see if you need a supplement if your diet doesn’t allow you to get needed nutrients.
Photo credit: Getty Images More content: