Do you feel like your body needs a re-boot? Are you tempted to drink your way back into your summer bikini with a juice cleanse or fast?
Squeezing Out Food
We all encounter chemicals in our foods (colorants and preservatives), water (chlorine), and air (carbon monoxide). These toxins build up in the body and cause inflammation and a weakened immune system, making us easy prey for colds, headaches, arthritis and serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. The theory behind juice cleanses is that when the body is free from the burden of digestion, it can better expel the toxins we take in resulting in optimum health, a mental advantage and guaranteed weight loss.
Not so Fast
A nutritious drink can offer a health boost, but when taken to extremes, can do more harm than good.
- It’s dangerous for some people including diabetics, people undergoing chemotherapy and those with nutritional deficiencies. The high sugar consumption in juice cleanses can blow blood sugar levels through the roof of even the healthiest individuals causing blurry vision, excessive hunger and thirst, fatigue, headaches and an overall spacy feeling. Even wounds and infections won’t heal as quickly.
- Juicing is not better than eating the whole fruit or vegetable- some of the fiber, white pulp, skins, seeds (which act like a scrub brush for the digestive tract) and nutrients are left behind in the juicing process.
- When it comes to an efficient metabolism, cleansing diets only create metabolic problems. Just as in extreme dieting of any kind, restricting calories lowers the metabolism—when deprived of calories the body becomes more efficient, requiring fewer calories to perform the daily functions that are necessary for survival. And over-restriction of calorie intake is typically linked to subsequent periods of over-eating, or binging.
- The liver naturally works to clear toxins from the body and to do so it needs vitamins, nutrients and amino acids. Cleansing fasts that last more than a day or two are not only counterproductive, but limit the nutrients and amino acids that the liver needs to move toxins out of the body.
Is it Worth the Headache?
There are foods that support the liver and aid in releasing unwanted toxins—like air pollutants, pesticides and chemicals that are a part of life as we know it. Simple additions to the diet like a warm cup of water with lemon juice in the morning will do more to assist the liver than elaborate, unnecessary and expensive programs. Allowing the body a rest from heavy diets laden with fat and sugar, and maintaining a more balanced, lighter, whole foods, health supportive diet will enable the natural detoxification process of the organs to do their thing.
Some experts, myself included, believe we cleanse all the time if we eat and live properly. Cut back on booze and processed, sugary junk foods and give up cigarettes. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, and eat a diet rich in real whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean proteins and whole grains.
Juices are a great way to get your greens without eating fistfuls of kale and spinach.
But be wary of unreasonable claims like increased mental function and dramatic weight loss from juice intake. Intensified amounts of vitamins and minerals are great, but they do not make up for the brain nutrition provided by the healthy lean protein and fat in whole foods.
I’ll Drink to That!
The solution to sustainable, natural weight management and a healthier life is simple—eat real food in balanced portions, in a relaxed and pleasurable setting. Along with moderate and regular exercise you’ll be healthy, fit and bikini confident. Finally, something solid to chew on!