With its promises of weight loss and body detoxification, juice cleansing has taken today’s health, wellness, and diet industries by storm. Many people even claim the trend can improve chronic diseases or prevent illnesses. The process is simple: consume nothing but fruit and/or vegetable juice for the duration of your choosing – typically anywhere between a day and a few weeks. While the results sound dreamy, the story is far more complex.
It’s no secret that many Canadians fall short of the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables, and thus miss out on the benefits of consuming them. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
So, is drinking your fruits and veggies just as beneficial as eating them?
To the likely dismay of many dedicated juice cleansers… Not quite.
The truth of that matter is that the majority of fruit and vegetables’ disease-fighting nutrients are lost through the juicing process. An important aspect of fruits and vegetables is fibre, which helps to:
Maintain gut health
Control blood sugars
Keep you feeling full for longer
Blending is not the same as juicing - blending fruits and vegetables into smoothies retains their nutrients and fibre. When making smoothies, try to use both fruits and vegetables as well as a protein source like plain Greek yogurt, natural nut/seed butter, or soft tofu. Click here for some of our favourite smoothie recipes!
Juices are also low in protein and fat. Protein helps you feel full, control blood sugars, and maintain muscle mass. Protein-rich foods are also good sources of many vitamins and minerals. Fat is an essential nutrient for energy, hormones, and cellular signalling as well as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Following a juice cleanse for too long can lead to deficiencies in protein, fat, and even some vitamins and minerals!
The weight loss commonly experienced during a juice cleanse can be attributed to a low intake of calories simply due to the restriction of other foods. This kind of rapid and restrictive weight loss is not healthy or sustainable. Consuming such a low-calorie diet can lead to extreme hunger and cravings. The weight is often gained back relatively quickly upon the inevitable reintroduction of solid food.
To ensure you are consuming juices healthily:
Evaluate: What are you hoping to get out of this?
Talk to your doctor or a dietitian: Ensure a juice cleanse won't affect your health negatively.
Make adjustments. Don't be strict when juicing or following any kind of diet. If you feel it is negatively affecting your wellbeing, alter your diet to suit your body's needs. Food is fuel for your body - ensure you are keeping the tank full!
“Detoxes” and “Cleanses”: What You Need To Know. (2019, September 17). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses
Harvard Health Publishing. (2015, July). Juicing – Fad or Fab? Retrieved from https://www.health.harard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab
Lee Kwan SH, Moore, LV, Blanck HM, Harris D, Galuska D. Disparities in State Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Intake United States, 2015. MMWR. 2017; 66(44). 1241 1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1