Should I Start a Juice Cleanse? (Evidence-Based)
Let's face it, the internet is going crazy about the show 'YOU'. You know, the stalker who kills people but is somehow seen as the loveable protagonist? No? Well, long story short, the protagonist Joe Goldberg was featured in a moment on the show where he was doing a Celery Juice Cleanse. The context as to why he was doing it still remains unknown but one could speculate that it would win over the love of his crush who was, at the time upset/angry with him. To many of you, this may not be important, but a lot of diet culture promotes this type of "Cleanse" or "Detox" dieting behaviour, especially in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles we find these trends to be popularized and I'd like to dive a bit deeper into this, in under 10 minutes of course ;).
The Juice Cleanse:
Let's talk about what most of these juice cleanses/detox diets are. They are for a short period of time, replacing normal ad libitum (as normally desired) diet with a pre-determined list of items with the desire to remove/reduce "toxins in the body." This idea is not something new, in fact, virtually every single major religion has some form of fasting or cleansing ritual that supposedly allows the body to heal, regenerate and "cleanse the soul". I used a really important word there, remember it for the future- fasting. Anyways, Juice cleanses have been popularized by celebrities who claim to experience elation, episodes of increased energy, and of course- weight loss. For those who find the weightloss component very surprising, I'd like to remind you that for a duration of likely 10 days or so, you are spending a prolonged period of time sucking on a few lemons, celery juice, a little bit of cayenne pepper and maybe honey/maple syrup/ agave nectar. Not exactly what I would call a calorically dense bulking diet. Dr Peter Glickman claimed, "if you experience symptoms like cravings, fatigue, irritability, headaches, pains, nausea, vomiting, hot bowel movements, it means that you are super-toxic and are getting rid of the toxins from your body." Right, or this could simply be associated with the described symptoms of hunger.
Juice Cleanses, The Good:
Juice cleanses can't be all bad, can they? Of course not! People who are doing juice cleanses, likely don't regularly consume a lot of fruits or vegetables, for a variety of reasons. Juiced fruits/vegetables can provide a lot of micronutrients in a convenient ingestion method! In fact, BluePrintCleanses claims to provide clients with roughly 20 pounds of produce per day of cleansing. While their marketing stance may have changed in the time since making those cleanses, this company provides easy step-by-step directions on how to "hit the reset" button using their juices. With all these vague positive marketing terms thrown your way, and very few quantifiable claims made (due to legalities, I'm sure) these Juices are meant to make you 'feel better.' Taken straight from their website, "You are the electric car, and you have a lot to accomplish during the day, so allow Blueprint to be the car's charging station." So to clarify, this will definitely make sure that clients/consumers of their goods are very well hydrated. Plenty of literature shows that with good hydration, comes benefits in cognition, mood, increased thermoregulation performance in heat, improved muscular performance in sport and exercise, etc. Additionally, clients that regularly do not consume fruits and vegetables will intake a large number of micronutrients in their bodies in a serving that is much higher than what they are regularly consuming. Lastly, these cleanses provide a mental placebo effect in the form of marketing and consuming a product that they believe in helping their spirit, mind, and physical health. This in itself, is a very powerful tool in improving the overall health of the consumer.
Juice Cleanse, The Not So Good:
I know you could feel this coming, I'm so bad at hiding surprises. Well, SURPRISE! While BluePrint and every other company offering cleanse programs are preaching the benefits of 20lbs (almost 10kg) of produce to busy go-getting individuals, I'm out here to show you that it's not all sunshine and rainbows, unfortunately. While I would agree that having those juices as part of your balanced diet could be extremely healthy, it could boost your immune system performance, it could provide you with a lot of added micronutrients that you are otherwise not consuming. It can also provide you with more sugar than you need in a day, dangerously low caloric intake, a dramatic reduction in your fibre intake below the desired threshold of consumption and more. One aspect of eating we often overlook is the social power of eating. Amazing research has shown that chewing, as in the action that takes place as a result of eating, has been associated with working memory processes. Not only this, but we know that humans are social beings, in fact, most of our social gatherings are surrounded by food. Game nights, holiday gatherings, weddings, funerals, you name it. One overlooked part of juice cleansing is the fact that in those above-listed scenarios you would lose out on the social component of a meal. In fact, one of many reasons why juice cleanses last less than 10 days is because of yearning for socialization in the act of eating meals with friends/family. Not only this but it provides a platform for the spreading misinformation and breeds environments where disordered eating and eating disorder conditions such as Orthorexia Nervosa can flourish and trouble the minds of the health-conscious.
While the exact result of the juice cleanses could vary dramatically person to person, and two days or three days is definitely 'Survivable' I'm not sure that I would ever recommend this form of dietary intervention for any general populations. For those that absolutely can't stand vegetables, it's a great way to get the necessary micronutrients and hydration along with a balanced diet. That is the key though, it is important to take these diet fads with a grain of salt, and understand that there is no magic recipe (or juice) that you can consume to meteorically rise in health, and improve your diet or the way you feel. Not long-term at least. It is important to be consistent with a balanced, healthy diet, plenty of fluids, regular exercise and a little bit of genetic luck to feel your best, day-to-day.
Another short one as per usual today, but I hope you learned something and enjoyed it. As per usual, I'd love to hear your feedback and if there are topics which you'd like me to cover in the future. Follow my Socials @evidencenutrition on Insta/Fb, and on twitter @edinsehovicc.