The dirty truth about juice cleanses...
The warm weather is upon us and we all know what that means... time to break out the bathing suit! But given the fact that we've been hibernating for what feels like a pandemic eternity, many of us are probably feeling a little snug in our suits and a little less comfortable in our own skin. No sweat, right? We live in a world of instant gratification where the wellness market is flooded with products promising beach bodies in weeks, if not days, with little effort involved beyond consuming some magic elixir. Enter... the juice cleanse.
The concept of the juice cleanse is not new. It just seems as of late I can't turn on the radio or open my computer without seeing ads promising a slimmer waist, decreased bloating and increased energy in as little as 3 days. Now don't get me wrong, juice that is made from actual fruit/veggies is absolutely better than drinking soda or an energy drink, since you're still absorbing all the vitamins and minerals they provide. However, cycles of living on juice alone for days at a time isn't the most sustainable or healthy choice as a lifestyle. There's a dirty truth to the juice cleanse and I'm here to unveil it!
Fiber. It's one of the most important components of gut health. It feeds the good bacteria, which help us maintain our immune system, mental health, bone strength... the list goes on and on. It also helps to keep us "regular" - yeah, we're going there - and it adds bulk to our stool. When you drink only juice, you are depriving your GI of fiber. That lack of fiber means your GI is inundated with the natural sugars in the fruit and veggies (no fiber to slow down the digestion), which can result in some unpleasant side effects. Namely - cramps and diarrhea. (Side note: there is nothing bad about natural sugars from fruit and veggies - eat them!) You won't hear them promoting these lovely side effects as part of their juice cleanse marketing. The reason for the sudden drop in weight or decrease in bloating is that you are basically participating in voluntary colonoscopy prep. You are "cleansing" your GI of all the sludge you have been consuming.
So, what's so terrible about this, you ask? In theory an occasional spring cleaning of your GI sounds like a positive. Let's think about this in terms of the big picture...
You've been going on a bit of a comfort food bender. You start to feel sluggish, weighed down - it's time to right the ship. So you commit to a few days of liquid meals to right your recent wrongs and magically feel better. The next weekend rolls around and you fall back into indulging, because so-and-so is having a party, or there's a family birthday, and you're back into your old routine. No problem - juice cleanse to the rescue... and the cycle continues... good for the juice company's bottom line, not great for your body.
Now you're probably thinking - OK, so I shouldn't do a juice cleanse. Then what's the solution?! I still need to fit into a bathing suit! What I'm about to say is not top secret, nor will it cost you extra for same day delivery or special packaging....
Just eat the ACTUAL fruits and veggies!!
The fiber in them acts as a natural pipe cleaner, helps remove gunk like bad cholesterol from our bodies, aids in blood sugar management, and feeds our good gut bacteria. Sure, you may have to wait a little longer before you can start to see "results", but this good habit can improve your health over a lifetime, not just a few days. After all, you can't look good if you don't feel good, so skip the liquid lunch and just eat real food!