People turn to 3, 5 or 7 days juice cleansing to detoxify, clean out their system and maybe hoping to lose weight.
Going on sugary liquid diet, albeit natural sugar, for 3 days in a row will guarantee some weight loss due to tummy upsets and shock to our system when our body is trying frantically to adjust to this “new diet” to maintain bodily functions. Remember, our body does not know that the juice only diet will only last for 3, 5 or 7 days. It has a job to do and it will do that religiously.
What do we really look for in a “detox” diet? Do they have any scientific basis?
A “de”tox naturally means neutralizing or getting rid of toxin but what types of toxin are we aiming to get rid of with a juice cleanse?
Don’t our bodies cleanse themselves anyway?
Our major organs of detoxification include our:
- digestive tract
- lymphatic system
- respiratory system
These systems break down chemicals (toxic or otherwise) into other forms we can eliminate via the digestive system, through sweating, or breathing. Our bodies are actually quite efficient in doing this when placed in a healthy environment.
The problem is we are always worried that our lifestyles aren’t as balanced and healthy as they should be and if an intense few days of cleansing can reset our bodies to enable us to start with a clean slate again… we should do it.
It is true that a lot of us these days are:
- relying too much on medications for fast relief and fixes than allow our immunity system to kick in to defend our bodies
- not sleeping enough
- subjecting our skin to harmful chemicals (make up and other blemish fixes)
- unable to kick unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking
- not exercising enough
- not eating nutrient rich foods and are consuming empty calories
- breathing in smog and ingesting heavily processed foods
All these could cause havoc with our bodies natural defences and mechanisms so we end up having a higher level of toxins in our bodies, a compromised immunity system leading to a higher risk for disease.
Does a detox reboot our system?
According to Dr Alan Logan, most detox diets are low in protein, amino acids, fibre and probiotics and surely a juice cleanse fits squarely into this.
Fibre is important as most toxins find themselves in our gastrointestinal tract, daily fibre intake is essential to bind these toxins for elimination. Probiotics help transform toxic compounds and prevent their absorption. Without dwelling into what is lacking in a detox cleansing diet, the missing fibre and probiotics would be enough to upset your system to “shake things up” for your body.
If detox diets seem to make us go backwards in terms of eliminating toxins from our bodies, why do we do them?
Perceived Weight Control Mechanism
As most detox diets are low in nutrients, calories and usually cause digestive issues, it can bring about a side effect of weight loss at the end of the cleanse.
However, weight loss should not be our reason to do a juice cleanse.
The reason why some people lose a remarkable about of weight quickly is because they are "empty". They quickly lose body water, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk. It’s gone during the “cleanse”. But all of it comes back a few hours after the detox ends because no one can stay empty forever. Not surprisingly studies have found that very little fat is lost on these same people.
Perceived Body Transformation
As they are often promoted by celebrities who look fabulous, we get sold on the image that they portray. We think by adopting a juice cleanse, we will emerge from the end of the cleanse looking fresh, healthy and radiating energy.
We all know that a healthy body needs ongoing work, eating the right foods and doing the right amount of exercises. However, we all want to believe that just doing the easiest thing that a healthy and fit person does, we will be bestowed with the full benefits that we hope for. Well, if it’s just a few days, it is worth a try, right?
Guilt Driven Action
We feel we need to do something in the name of “health” due to the appalling lifestyle that we lead. Following the “no pain, no gain” theory, even though we know that a few days of juices only diet will make us miserable, we are ready to embrace it for some perceived cleansing effect and hopefully some weight loss.
What are we Really subjecting ourselves to in A Juice Cleanse?
If our bodies are not already familiar with the various kinds of vegetable and fruit juices that are ingeniously mixed together for their therapeutic effects, our digestive system will be in shock.
Physiologically, our bodies are called upon to:
- Metabolise an overload of nitrates (from celery and beets) which promote vasodilation. In some people, this condition can lead to pounding headaches.
- Cope with extreme variations in fat intake when a juice cleanse diet eliminates healthy fats
- Cope with electrolyte imbalances when overhydration (drinking a lot of juices) is combined with low energy intake. Our body needs to extract minerals from cells to keep the level of minerals stable in the blood stream to enable the body to function).
Most common physical reactions are:
- extreme hunger
- loss of sleep (as your stomach would be grumbling throughout the night)
- low in energy making us feel cold and sluggish
- dizziness (from sugar level swings)
On a positive note, we feel less bloated, get a flat stomach and feel generally lighter as never before.
Juice Cleansing, like all crash diets, do not have any long term effects on our health and wellbeing. It is a guilt driven “health restart” button that we trick ourselves into clicking which in reality will set us back a few steps (or a few km, if undertaken over a long period of time) on our health journey.