By Kelly Zimmerhanzel, FoodCorps Service Member
If you’ve paid any attention to diet trends over the last few years, you have no doubt heard of juice cleanses or juicing. Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kim Kardashian have been touting the benefits of juice cleanses for years. But what is a juice cleanse and why are celebrities so obsessed with them? According to Medical News Today, “a juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming only juices from vegetables and fruits in an attempt to lose weight and detoxify the body.” It’s tempting to go for this quick fix, to believe that drinking nothing but juice for a few days will make up for years of eating processed junk foods, but that’s not really how the body works. Here are five reasons not to try a juice cleanse this year:
1. Juice cleanses are not an effective way to lose weight.
You may lose a few pounds while on a juice cleanse, but only because you aren’t consuming enough calories. Even if you do lose some weight, there is a good chance you won’t be able to keep it off, especially if you don’t make any other changes to your normal diet after the cleanse. In fact, there is evidence that a juice cleanse may actually cause you to gain weight rather than lose it and could be dangerous if you have diabetes. According to Harvard Medical School, “Excessive intake of juice may cause weight gain and be dangerous for people with diabetes because juice is a concentrated source of calories and sugar.” If you think they are referring only to store-bought juices with added sugar, think again. Even juice with no added sugar has natural sugar from the fruit, but juicing strips the fruit of fiber which your body needs to properly process all that sugar.
2. There is no scientific evidence that juice cleanses detoxify your body.
Many juice cleanses claim that they will rid your body of toxins, but that’s nothing more than a marketing scheme. The human body already detoxifies itself using the liver, colon, and kidneys, so this claim is just straight up bogus.
3. Juice cleanses are expensive.
A standard 3-day juice cleanse can cost anywhere between $60 and $200. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could justify spending what I might spend on groceries in a week or a month on 3 days of being miserable drinking nothing but juice.
4. Juice can’t provide your body with all the things it needs.
First, juicing removes the fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps keep you full and helps your gut work properly, so it’s pretty important, especially when you need to digest all that sugar in fruit. Second, according to Harvard Medical School, “Juices don't have protein, which keeps us full and helps maintain muscle mass for a healthy weight.” Third, juices don’t have fats, which our bodies also need to function properly. You may be able to last a few days on a juice cleanse without any lasting negative effects, but you’re not doing your body any favors either.
5. Juice just isn’t as good for you as whole fruits and veggies.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Juicing removes the skin and insoluble fiber of fruits and vegetables. The juice itself has a different nutritive value and may not have the same health benefits as whole fruits and vegetables.” Juice isn’t the worst thing for you, obviously drinking fruit or vegetable juice is preferable to not consuming fruits or vegetables at all, but it isn’t as nutritious as whole fruits and vegetables. If you really want to consume all your fruits and veggies in liquid form, at least try making smoothies instead of juice. Smoothies contain the whole fruit or vegetable, meaning that you are still getting all the good stuff from the skin and the fiber.
So what should you do instead of a juice cleanse? Try incorporating more whole fruits and vegetables into your normal diet. I’ve always liked food writer Michael Pollan’s advice on how to improve your diet. He says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” So this year, instead of expecting some fad diet to solve all your problems, choose the road less traveled and try making lasting changes to your diet instead. You may find it’s not as hard and much more rewarding than you thought.
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The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.