Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, and Kim Kardashian are just a few of the famous names that swear by juice cleanses. As a teenage girl, I’m constantly aware of the trends that come and go and juice cleanses are no exception. Living in an environment where fresh fruit and veggies are easily accessible, I see even my friends splurging on these juice cleanses, claiming she feels “revitalized” and “ridding her body of toxins.” But the real question is: do they actually work?

The first thing we need to address is what juice cleanses are. Now, there are several definitions to a juice cleanse, but the most general answer to encompass all of them is detoxing your body through low calorie intake and limiting your diet to fruits, vegetables, and water for three to five days. But the juices used aren’t the average cartons of orange juice you find atop your grocery shelf. Rather, they’re made specifically for a cleansing diet and use fresh produce. Juice cleanse companies offer a variety of juices with different ingredients to benefit you in different ways. But with juice cleanses, you don’t even need to buy it from companies like BluePrint, Project Juice, and Juice Press. Instead, you can buy your own fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market or grocery store and juice it yourself using a machine, albeit expensive.

It’s no argument that fresh fruits and vegetables can give you vitamins and antioxidants that other sources just can’t offer. But when processed into juices, the amount of those can dramatically decrease. According to Health’s article, “Your Guide to Popular Juice Cleanses,” Stephanie Middleberg, a dietitian from New York, states “you lose out on some of the fiber content” from leaving out pulp and skin, but it does allow “your digestion system a break from working so hard to process a large meal.” Protein and fats needed on a daily basis are also present but in very low quantities. Similarly, the New York Times points out that most juice cleanses range from 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day. Now, the average person’s suggested calorie intake varies (to find the suggested calorie intake for you, calculate it here), but by cleansing with the juices, you could be depriving yourself of over 1,000 calories needed to function. While decreased calorie intake may sound appealing for losing weight and feeling healthier, it is not proved to persist throughout the long run. It can even cause fluctuation in your metabolism and a decreased motivation to exercise.

Depriving yourself of calories and nutrients could lead to cravings for foods, lack of energy, and low blood sugar, and after researching several articles, there is little to no research on juice cleansing benefiting you in the long run. Although this survey on licensed naturopathic doctors in the United States resulted in a 92% turnout of the “respondents using clinical detoxification therapies,” several registered dieticians and doctors recommend healthier alternatives to losing and maintaining weight. Why use detoxification methods to rid your body of toxins when you have natural processes in your body to do that for you? To get the maximum use of your natural body cleansers, like your kidney, colon, and liver, here are a few tips from My Science Academy’s article.

  1. Drink LOTS of water, about 8 glasses a day, to allow for your kidneys to adequately flush out toxins through your urine
  2. Ensure you have enough sources of vitamins and protein from fruits, vegetables, and proteins and to eat them in every meal
  3. Avoid or even remove “white” and refined foods from your diet, including white bread and sugar

However, juices do actually provide a healthy amount, even more, of fruits and vegetables that you may not normally eat raw or in a regular meal. If you do decide to use the juices, drink it slowly and with a meal. Taking it with a meal guarantees other sources and a healthy intake of protein and calories. Avoid adding refined sugars to make it taste sweeter and with that said, here is one last tip: smoothies are healthier than juices if you want to “cleanse”! Making a smoothie can include much more than just fruits and vegetables. According to Nutrition.gov’s “Juicing 101 Tips,” blending in protein powder, chia seeds, or yogurt can provide the extra protein, antioxidants, and calories that just juicing the produce can’t give you. Furthermore, you keep the fiber from the skin when blending fruits whole. If anything, treat yourself to a smoothie and not a juice!

After reading all those other tips and you still want to participate in a juice cleanse, consult your doctor first to see if your body can handle it and to ensure you are not harming your body if you have diabetes, use blood thinners, or are pregnant. Likewise, cases of acute renal failure due to oxalate-rich (an anti-nutrient and natural acid found in several greens) fruit and vegetable juices have been described. Please also visit this article to learn how to do a cleanse safe and how to prepare your body for it. I also recommend researching other gentle detoxes and to take learn more about a liver detox program Key Compounding podcasted.

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