Juiced Up! Does your body really need to be “cleansed” of solids?
Where did the concept of juice detoxes come from? Where are its roots/ history? And why do you think they became so popular?
Fasting has been practiced as a concept for rejuvenating health for thousands of years. Juice cleansing is really an extension of this. Allowing you to consume small amount of calorific foods whilst fasting.
Unfortunately its popularity really seems to have increased with the promise of weight loss, and claims that this particular kind of modified fast will help you to ‘detox’ – which may not really be the case. The concept of detoxing is often confused and can be misleading.
Do you think there are any benefits of doing a juice cleanse? Or is it all marketing hype? What do they help with?
There is an ever growing body of evidence to support the practice of fasting. And a juice cleanse is really a modified fast.
In a fasting state we can experience better mental focus, boosted immune system function, a reduction in systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. The body uses this time to do some ‘cellular clean up’ – breaking down old tired cells and restoring the optimal function of tissues. This has been shown in some early animal and small human studies to result in improved brain health, improved cholesterol levels, and even an increase in lean muscle mass.
We also know that a juice cleanse can improve the health and diversity of the microbiome which will support overall improved gut health – so you may experience some side effects of this change in your digestive function.
Regular intermittent fasting can be a good long term strategy for controlled weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight. It’s via this mechanism that we may experience some detoxification. The body stores some ‘toxins’ in fat tissue and as we lose weight these may be released into our blood stream and filtered out the liver and kidneys and excreted. This can happen with any weight loss and we really need to ensure that our liver and kidney are functioning optimally to see these benefits.
You may also benefit from an increased intake of nutrients and antioxidant compounds from the juices themselves. But be mindful of blood sugar spikes as the juices tend to have high amounts of simple sugars and the fibre removed.
What type of people do you believe would benefit from juice cleanse? Are there any people who should not undertake one?
Juice cleanses are not recommended for those taking any prescription medications, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the elderly, children or those with compromised immune systems. Juice cleanses may also unsuitable if you have issues with blood sugar regulation. I recommend that before undertaking any extended fast or modified fast you should consult with your health care practitioner first.
Juice cleanses may be great for healthy people looking for a boost in their overall gut, immune and brain health. But always do our research and make sure its right for you. If you feel unwell or faint stop and talk to your health care practitioner.
Can juice cleanses be dangerous?
For all of the people mentioned above they can be dangerous. We are all so different and it’s really important to make sure that you listen to your body.
Does our body really need to be cleansed of solids? And is this the best way to be cleansed of toxins in the body?
Our digestive system is built to process and remove toxins and our liver, kidneys and gut do this day in day out. So the best way to be cleansed of toxins is to make sure that you look after these systems so they are functioning optimally. You can do this by eating a healthy diet, supporting your gut health with pre and probiotic foods and abstaining from too much alcohol and processed foods.
Fasting and juice cleansing may have may benefits but the idea that it increases the body's ‘detoxification’ is not really supported by the evidence.
What other cleansing and detoxifying treatments alternatives are there to juice cleanses that may have a similar or better effect?
Intermittent fasting can be great to increase cellular turnover and ‘clean up’ our tissues. It can also be much easier to comply with over a long period of time given the ‘fasting’ phases tend to be much shorter periods of time and interferes with life less.
Digestive, liver and kidney support herbs can also be excellent to boosting digestive function and supporting our natural detoxification pathways. Try apple cider vinegar before meals to stimulate digestion, turmeric and dandelion tea to stimulate gall bladder function and celery seed tea to support kidney function.
You can also try some specific liver herbs like St Marys thistle to support the liver after a little too much drinking!
And of course support gut health with plenty of pre and probiotic foods.