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Juice Cleanses

The juice cleanse business is drawing in customers like fruit flies, promising weight loss, body detoxification and the treatment and prevention of everything from the common cold to cancer.

A nutritious juice here and there can be beneficial for your health, but when it’s taken to the extreme, limiting your diet to strictly juices for weeks, it not only fails to be the magic solution the fanatics are claiming it to be; it can also do more harm than good.

During a juice fast or cleanse, a person limits their diet to only fresh vegetable and fruit juices and water for anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The fast focuses on freshly made, unpasteurized juice, so the usual bottles of OJ that you would pick up at the corner store wouldn’t be allowed.

People generally either buy the juices from a manufacturer of juice cleanse products or purchase a juicer and make their own concoctions at home.

Pathogens can live on all raw food, but packaged juices go through a pasteurization process that kills them. If you do make your own juices at home, make sure to only make enough for one serving so you don’t give dangerous organisms a chance to develop. And, as always, scrub that produce clean!

It’s an easy way to add servings of vegetables and fruits to your diet.  The latest dietary guidelines recommend five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, depending on a person’s caloric intake. The average American requires 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, so the average person’s goal is nine servings, or 4.5 cups, of fruits and veggies per day.  By the way, potatoes don’t count.

People undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, people with nutritional deficiencies and people with kidney disease should not try a juice fast. The high sugar consumption involved in juice fasts can skyrocket blood-sugar levels in diabetics, which can result in fatigue, muscle loss, blurry vision, excessive hunger and thirst, and wounds or infections that heal more slowly than usual.  And the high levels of antioxidants and low levels of protein can be dangerous for those undergoing chemo.

Juicing is not better than whole fruits and vegetables. In fact, it removes some nutrients.  Actually, the fiber and some of the antioxidants found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables are often eliminated in the juicing process. For example, the white pulp in an orange provides flavonoids, but that’s usually left behind.

Because juice doesn’t offer the fiber contained in fruits and veggies, the body absorbs fructose sugar more easily, which can affect blood sugar levels, according to Food Republic. If you do decide to try a juice cleanse, drink more veggie juices and limit fruit juice to one glass a day in order to avoid this potential side effect.

None of this means you shouldn’t drink juice. It simply means, instead of drinking only juice for weeks, a healthier route might just be including juices in a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

Juices are less filling than whole fruits and vegetables.  You’re not going to feel as satisfied and full if you drink your meals instead of chewing them.  Additionally, the fiber that’s been left out of the juice would have helped slow consumption and make you feel more sated.

Juice fasts can leave out critical nutrients your body needs to function properly.  You should always be skeptical when a diet requires extreme restrictions and cuts out entire food groups.  There’s a reason dietary guidelines include various categories of food: You can’t get all of your essential vitamins and minerals out of just one.  A lack of fat leaves your skin and hair in poor shape and contributes to malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

There’s nothing wrong with going on a juice fast for a few days, but it’s not a great way to lose weight.  Additionally, if you do this to your body enough, you may permanently lower your metabolism, and it’s tough enough to lose weight as it is.

There isn’t really anything to detox.  The fact is, though, our body does an excellent job of this already; our, liver, kidney’s and intestines filter the unwanted items quite effectively and expel them through urine, bowel movements, breath and sweat. We don’t need to punish ourselves with strict juice-only diets to eliminate the bad stuff.

The weight loss industry is a business, a booming one at that.  Want to juice at home? Get ready to put down some money. Juicers range from $30 to $300. And since you shouldn’t be saving unpasteurized juice for later, you might want to buy one for the office while you’re at it.

 

Look, there are some benefits to juice cleanses. If you follow it all the way through, you’ll probably feel a sense of accomplishment. You might feel like you’ve freed yourself from the control cravings had over you. Some people say it helps them break their unhealthy eating habits. And yes, for once, you’re probably getting the recommended servings of fruits and veggies, if not more, per day. But if you’re going to try a juice cleanse, make it short. It’s not healthy to restrict your body for weeks from the other nutritious foods it needs.

Moderation is key to any diet, and the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make healthy lifestyle changes that you’ll be able to maintain throughout your life.

Manhattan Wellness Group helps with health and well being through good diet suggestions, exercise, chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.

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