I wholeheartedly support the current trend towards a varied diet including mostly single-ingredient, whole foods that are not processed to the point you no longer recognize what you’re actually eating. ‘Are juice cleanse diets good or bad?’ – I received this question from several readers over time, so I deemed it worthy of an article.
The short and inconclusive answer: It depends on various factors. Natural juice seems to be particularly popular these days, but aren’t we attributing too many benefits to our freshly blended or squeezed fruits and veggies?
Juice Cleanse Diets – Good Or Bad?
I’m an optimist, so regarding juice cleanse diets, I’d rather start with the pros. As usual, pretty much any diet out there has some strengths and some weaknesses.
Since juiced fruits and vegetables are in fact natural foods (and healthy ones too), that are minimally processed it makes sense they provide various benefits.
An easy way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake
If you’ve been juicing for a while (or planning to), you’ve probably realized you upped your daily dose of fruits and veggies by consuming them in their liquid form. Most people are unable to meet the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.
Besides making unhealthy food choices, there’s always the problem of meal planning to ensure you’re actually getting the good stuff. It’s way easier simply juice your favorite combinations of fruits and vegetables (or just use them separately) without worrying what recipes should you cook next.
Juicing is also a great way to try out new types of produce, you wouldn’t normally cook with as the first step to introducing them into your diet. Also, kids that shy away from eating veggies may be more open to drinking them instead.
Remember when your mom always told you to chew your food? That’s because food that’s properly chewed is better absorbed, along with all the nutrients it provides. And what could be easier to process than food that’s already ‘chewed’ to the point it becomes fluid?
They can help minimize produce waste
Even if you have some produce in the fridge that’s a week or more old, you can still juice it if it’s not spoiled. On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t want to cook with it. Besides the environmental concerns, your budget will thank you for reducing produce waste and so will your body!
Like any other diet or food, drinking fruits and vegetable juices, and especially following a juice cleanse diet carries its own disadvantages.
They’re not a weight-loss miracle
If you plan to lose weight with a juice cleanse you should be aware that drinking only juices even if it’s just for a few days will make you feel hungry most of the time as liquid foods are not able to provide satiety like their solid counterparts.
Even if you were to drink the caloric equivalent of a full meal, it won’t keep you as full as if you’d eaten it in its solid form so you might end up overeating when you were trying to do exactly the opposite.
Also, juices contain little (if any) protein so if you’re working out, they definitely won’t help you increase your muscle mass. In fact, the effect may be the exact opposite since your body will take its fuel from your muscles if you don’t have an adequate intake of protein.
They have a lot of sugar
Fruits and some vegetables contain large amounts of sugar and even if it’s natural, it’s still sugar. Drinking your fruits instead of eating them can lead to over consumption of sugar. It makes sense: one glass of apple juice is made using several apples. You can easily drink 2 glasses of apple juice a day, but could you eat 6-7 apples within the same period of time?
Even if you opt for an apple smoothie instead and simply blend the apples in their whole form, they still become way easier to eat than in solid form.
While a healthy person can go through a juice cleanse that lasts a few days with no major effects, for diabetics this is definitely out of the question. Regardless, if you still plan on following a juice cleanse diet, juice mostly low-carb veggies and stay away from fruits as much as possible.
You don’t really need to detox
I think people think of detox in the wrong way. Our liver does a perfectly good job at ridding our bodies of toxins. What we need to do is to eat right, get enough physical activity and rest to keep it healthy. And maybe avoid toxins in the first place, right?
Natural juices can increase your intake of various essential nutrients, vitamins and enzymes which is definitely good for us, but don’t expect them to flush toxins overnight. There is no such thing.
Juicing can be costly
Like I already said, if you were to make a glass of apple juice, you’d need about 2-3 (if not even more) apples. However, if you’d just eat one apple instead of drinking the juice you’ll probably be satisfied and won’t feel the need to eat more.
In the end, juicing requires you buy more produce since you’re discarding their skin and fiber so it’s certainly not the budget-friendly option. Buying premade juices isn’t either. The really good (organic) ones are usually expensive and even so, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to find a trustworthy brand that would sell them cheap.
You’re throwing out the fiber
Because juicing removes the insoluble fiber, the drink is easier to digest, but that fiber you’re discarding is actually good for you. Most of us aren’t getting enough fiber in our diet anyway and juicing doesn’t help in this department. Also, the fiber contained in fruits slows down the absorption of sugar (if you eat them whole of course), preventing blood sugar spikes as opposed to drinking their juice.
Are juice cleanse diets good or bad? Now that you’ve read the pros and cons, I hope we can all agree long-term juice fasts do not ensure adequate nutrition. However, drinking fruit and vegetable juices every now and then, or even one glass a day can definitely boost our daily vitamin intake with no significant health risks associated.