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Juice Cleanses: Debunked

The Facts About Juice Cleanses and Their Consequences

Diet fads and myths have been around for several years. The juice cleanse and detox diets in particular splatter the pages of Facebook and Twitter leaving individuals hoping to lose weight confused and in jeopardy of actually harming their bodies instead of losing weight in a healthy way.  This blog will lead you through a few different fad diets, why they don't work, and some ideas to help you get started on losing weight in a healthy way.  

Juice cleanses essentially encourage a week of drinking only juices that contain fruits and vegetables along with lemon water throughout the day.  Juice cleanse companies claim that this is required to rid your body of toxins that are apparently just lying around in your body in pools of toxic sludge.  

The first myth I'd like to bust is the idea that our bodies somehow store toxins. This is simply not true. We have been born with a detoxifying machine called a LIVER that performs several functions including removing toxins from the body.  

Our amazing livers convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins that can be flushed from the body through urination. It also filters large toxins from the blood, controls cholesterol, and eliminates unwanted chemicals. As blood flows through the liver, toxins are filtered out and are converted to less harmful components through different chemical reactions (oxidation/reduction reactions).  A complicated "second-phase" converts these now less harmful toxins so that they are able to be secreted through urine or bile (NCBI, 2016). 

Juice cleanses force your body to function off of a very limited amount of calories which is unhealthy for most people for many reasons.  Unless your doctor or dietitian places you on a low carbohydrate diet for medical purposes, don't start one.  This applies to ANY diet. Unless a professional suggests you start one or supports one with actual evidence, it will probably not be beneficial.  Juice cleanses remove important nutrients from starches and grains as well as fats and protein.  These perform so many duties in keeping our bodies healthy that cutting them out completely can be detrimental to your health.  

Glucose, which is a sugar that carbs are broken down into, is our brains' main source of energy.  Taking this source of energy away or decreasing it can make you cranky and have trouble focusing.  According to Mayo Clinic, low carbohydrate diets do not have significant benefits after 12-24 months as once you begin to reintroduce carbohydrates back into your diet, you will begin to store them again and the weight will return (Mayo Clinic, 2017).  

Weight cycling is also a concern when it comes to juice cleanses and other fad diets. Weight cycling is the constant increase and decrease in body weight following the beginning and end of diets.  This can harm your metabolism and increase your risk of chronic diseases (Strohacker, 2009). Juice contains carbohydrates from fruits which mostly contain natural sugars.  However, they do not contain enough and they do not contain carbs that make you feel satisfied which makes the entire experience that much worse.  Carbs are amazing.  They contain fiber, B vitamins including folate, and iron. Cutting them out of your diet sounds like the worst thing ever PLUS it has serious risks to your health. 

Juice cleanses are an unnecessary diet fad that has no real or proven benefits. The headaches and aches that juice cleanse companies claim are from "toxins leaving your body" are in fact from your body yelling at you for depriving it of key nutrients. 

Our livers are an amazing detoxification system; don't deprive yourself of proper nutrition to "clean yourself out."  And as always, with any diet or nutrition rumor you hear, do your research! 

Sources:

NCBI. How does the liver work? (2016, August 22).  Retrieved February 06, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/

This website helped me to more clearly describe liver functions. It is well written and from a scholarly source.

Mayo Clinic. Can a low-carb diet help you lose weight? (2017, August 29). Retrieved February 06, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831?pg=2

This website describes low carbohydrate diets and how they work in your body. This is a scholarly source.

Strohacker, K; Carpenter, C; McFarlin, B. Consequences of Weight Cycling: An Increase in Disease Risk? Int J Exerc Sci. 2009; 2(3): 191–201. Published online 2009 Jul 15.

This article gave me information on weight cycling and helped me to describe its risks. 

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