One of the local radio DJs must be earning a small fortune touting one these popular juice cleanses. Drink nothing but their juice for 3,4 or 7 days and all of your troubles will magically disappear! You’ll be energized, feel great, look 12 years younger, that dog you lost 3 years ago will come back happy to see you…oh wait. Yeah, it’s all hogwash! I’m calling a big fat fiction on the juice cleanse idea.
The reason I’m against these cleanses (as are most nutritionists) is several fold. Our bodies were created to detoxify and keep themselves running clean and smoothly. It’s why we have kidneys and a liver. Of course fruits and vegetables help keep them healthy and running smoothly, but we need other elements in our diets as well. Every healthy eating plan will include copious amounts of vegetables and fruits. But do you remember our healthy fats and proteins (also worked into every healthy eating plan)? Do not skip these, not even for 3 days. You will feel awful (brain fog, body weakness), your muscles will suffer as your body cannibalizes itself for essential amino acids. You may lose a pound or 2 but it’s water weight and you will gain it back immediately upon re-introducing real foods. Or worse it’s hard-earned muscle weight.
As for the nutrient kick they tell you about juicing removes the fiber in the fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps cleanse our systems and make us feel full. What remains from the fruits and vegetables after juicing them is the sugar. These drinks are as high in sugar as some soft drinks. One of the popular systems on the market contains 180 grams of sugar per day. 180 grams. That is 7 TIMES the recommended amount we intake daily. 7 times. Let that sink in. Your blood sugar will be rising and crashing. Insulin resistance sets in. Yes, this is a major cause of Type II Diabetes. Don’t go there. Don’t even try it. Not even for a day.
Now for the small caveat as I’m not completely against drinking your fruits and vegetables. Do you want to healthily sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet? Maybe you like the idea of grabbing a drink on the go (I know I do!). How about a green smoothie? Or, here’s a baseline recipe healthy enough to use as a full meal replacement and easy to change to make it different each day. Just mix up in your blender as you see fit:
1 cup liquid base (NO JUICES! Choose coconut milk, coconut water, almond milk, etc)
1 scoop protein powder (preferably a clean whey or egg protein. Vegetarians and vegans can choose pea or hemp)
1-2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, chia seeds or 1 Tbsp flax oil or 1 Tbsp coconut oil (healthy fats!)
Fruit of your choice (1 serving, 2 max if post workout)
Handfuls of greens – spinach, kale, etc. If this is your first smoothie try spinach, the flavor doesn’t come through. Cucumbers and or celery are also great in a smoothie.
So yes, you can drink your vegetables and feel wonderful. Just save your money, your sanity and your health and avoid these packaged juice cleanse products at all costs.