Do juice cleanses really work?

Do juice cleanses really work?

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Is the juice cleanse craze just another fad or can it really boost your health?

Do you need to do a juice cleanse?

Juice cleansing detox plans come with promise of everything from weight loss, better skin and stronger immunity to a healthier gut, better mood, and more energy . 

Although there is no denying that eating fruit and vegetables has been plays a part in all of the above and more, does the same apply to drinking juice and nothing but juice for a few days?

“Juice cleanses or ‘fasts’ have been known to have a positive impact on health,” says naturopath Nadine Bedewi, secretary of the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association. 

“For an otherwise fairly healthy adult, a juice cleanse detox plan lasting about three to five days can be undertaken to help take the load off the organs of elimination [the liver, kidneys, skin and lungs] and allow them to focus on eliminating any stored toxins or metabolic by-products.” 

Many people report feeling more focused and energetic after a juice cleanse.

“An increase in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, whether it be from juices or whole foods, may help to improve your energy levels. However, a whole-food diet is more likely to meet our bodies’ needs compared to a juice,” says Katherine Baqleh, a dietitian from Health Victory Nutrition Experts. 

“Drinking fruit is not as satisfying as chewing it, and juice has a more rapid response on blood sugar levels compared to fresh whole fruit.” 

Are juice cleanses good for you?

What about losing weight without compromising nutrition: are juice cleanses a healthy way to go about it? 

“Following a juice cleanse because you think it might be good for you is probably not going to make any difference if you are already eating a well-balanced diet,” says dietitian Leanne Elliston from Nutrition Australia. 

“But for individuals with a poor diet who eat a lot of heavily processed foods which are high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt, then replacing these discretionary foods with healthier options rich in fruit and vegetables is going to result in better nutritional outcomes.” 

Baqleh agrees, but explains that although a glass of juice contains essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, it’s important that the pulp and skin are also used when possible. 

“The main problem is the loss of fibre through juicing. Fibre not only keeps you regular but also acts as food for the good gut bacteria, allowing it to flourish” she says. 

 Also, she points out that juice is sensitive to heat and light so juice that has been sitting on shelves in clear bottles is not as nutritious as the fresh alternative.

If you do decide to try a juice cleanse, Elliston has some advice: “The juice should contain predominantly vegetables, so as to avoid a high intake of sugars during the cleanse."

"It is important, however, for anyone with a known health condition to consult with a qualified health practitioner before undertaking any juice cleanse. I definitely would not recommend them for children or the elderly, unless specifically directed by their physician.”