Healthy woman drinking a green juice

Is a juice cleanse an effective detox?

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Detox juices as a form of body cleanse has grown in popularity. Discover the pros and cons of juicing and recipe ideas for creating your own juices at home.

The concept of giving your body a cleanse by drinking detox juices has grown in popularity recently. It’s a trend that’s been linked to everything from encouraging weight loss and boosting the immune system to helping to remove toxins from your body, often in the hope of improving energy levels .

But what are the benefits of detox juice? Are there any pitfalls or considerations to bear in mind? Here’s what you need to know.

What is detox juice anyway?

They can come in a few different shapes and sizes, but essentially a detox juice is usually a fruit or vegetable juice, or a combination of both. They often contain a few extra ‘goodies’ including foods like ginger and turmeric, which have a reputation as being detoxifying foods.

Do juice cleanses work?

The first thing to know is that the human body already has its own inbuilt detox system. Provided they’re healthy and well looked after, the lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system work hard to remove any toxic substances you might consume, in an incredibly efficient way.

The second thing to know is that there are two schools of thought when it comes to juice detoxes. Some experts say that a juice detox cleanse can temporarily help take the load off those organs of elimination, while others suggest the evidence of effectiveness of juice cleanses as a ‘detox’ tool is thin on the ground .

One small 2017 study did find that people who undertook a three-day juice fast had lost a significant amount of weight by day four and experienced a healthy, weight-loss friendly ‘shift’ in the makeup of their gut bacteria. But by day 17 of the study, both of these results had started to reverse. Study participants also reported an improvement in self-reported wellbeing at the end of the study .

Are there any benefits of detox juice?

So, with the jury out on how effective they are as a detoxifying tool, what other health benefits can detox juices deliver? Like whole fruit and vegetables, fresh juices do contain nutrients that are essential for health and wellbeing, like vitamins and minerals.

However, unlike blending , most juicing methods remove the skin and insoluble fibre from fruits and vegetables, a nutrient that plays a key role in digestive health . This lack of fibre also means that, compared to eating a piece of fruit or a whole vegetable, a juice drink won’t keep you feeling as satisfied and full afterwards, either.

Plus, if it’s made purely or mainly from fruit, juice often contains a similar amount of sugar and kilojoules to soft drinks, and can also be very acidic, which bumps up the risk of dental erosion . For this reason, while a 125ml glass of fruit juice is classified as providing a serve of fruit, according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines it should only be consumed occasionally .

The bottom line…

If you eat or drink nothing else but juice for a few days, a juice detox can deliver fast, short-term weight loss, partly because it drastically slashes energy intake. For example, the detox juice cleanse the participants in the 2017 study embarked on restricted kilojoule intake to around 5500 a day, 3200 kilojoules less than the average person’s usual intake.

Unfortunately, most weight lost through restrictive ‘diets’ like this tends to be made up of water and lean muscle rather than fat. When the body is forced to break down muscle to meet the body’s energy needs, it can lead to a reduced metabolic rate so that when the juice detox or cleanse is stopped, it’s easier for the body to gain fat .

A balanced diet

A better plan if you’re keen to try a detox, is to use a more holistic, healthy approach, incorporating vegetable-based detox juices as just one part of a bigger plan. As part of a healthy and balanced diet, and by using varied ingredients, they definitely have their place and ensure your body receives many of the essential nutrients and minerals it needs.

By making a few small tweaks to your daily wellbeing, these detox juice recipes are easy to make and delicious to drink. Made with the whole fruit and veg not only are they packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients but they are all a great source of fibre.

Detox juice recipes

Here are three delicious and fibre-rich recipes:

Beetroot boost detox juice

Blend:
  • Beetroot
  • Orange
  • Ginger
  • Cardamon

Green detox juice

Blend:
  • Spinach
  • Kiwifruit
  • Celery
  • Lemon
  • Coconut water
  • Mint

Carrot cleanser detox juice

Blend:
  • Pineapple
  • Carrot
  • Turmeric
  • Apple
  • Celery
  • Lemon