Juice cleanses have had a resurgence of popularity in recent years, with companies selling organic, cold-pressed juice for a cleanse lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The cleanse usually comes with a promise such as weight loss, detoxification, or better health. But do juice cleanses actually work?
While juice from whole fruits and vegetables with no added sugar can be beneficial, they may do more harm than good for some and may not have any benefits for others. Here are some common questions and answers to better explain why a juice cleanse may not necessarily be a healthy choice.
Does it detox?
There is little to no evidence that consuming only juices for a period of time releases toxins from the body, at least not any better than the body does on its own. Your liver, kidneys, and intestines filter the unwanted things you ingest and expel them through urine, bowel movements, and sweat.
Does it help with weight loss?
The only reason why a juice cleanse may cause weight loss is because it restricts calories. It’s essentially a crash diet, and most of the weight you’ll lose is water weight that will come back as soon as you finish the cleanse.
And, while you may get some vitamins and nutrients from the juices, you aren’t getting enough fat, fiber, or protein. For that reason, only consuming juices can actually harm your body. You may believe that symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue are signs that your body is detoxing. In reality, it’s making it known that its needs are not being met. As soon as you finish the cleanse, your body will likely be seeking food more than before.
Is it healthier than other diets?
A juice cleanse can actually be dangerous for some people, particularly diabetics, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, people with kidney disease, and those with nutritional deficiencies.
Blood sugar levels can spike significantly during a juice cleanse because of the high sugar content in fruits and some vegetables. And the high levels of potassium and minerals from consuming too much juice can build up in the blood to very harmful levels in people with kidney disease. The lack of protein and high levels of antioxidants can be particularly dangerous for those going through chemotherapy.
For people without these conditions, a juice cleanse still lacks some nutrients and important macros, such as fats and proteins. And without consuming fat, malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins can occur.
What’s more, consuming only the juice from fruits and vegetables omits the fiber and some of the antioxidants that are present in whole form. This results in your body absorbing fructose sugar more easily.
In short, there’s nothing wrong with consuming 100% juice every once in a while, but a juice cleanse is unlikely to achieve any health goals and may result in aggravating some existing conditions. A better alternative is to simply add more whole fruits and vegetables to your diet, along with lean protein and whole grains.
Dr. Anita Udayamurthy is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Pasadena Clinic. She believes in creating a long-term relationship with her patients so they’ll feel comfortable enough to ask questions and share their health concerns.