Image via iStock.
Juice cleanses have been doing the rounds for quite some time now, but just how good for you are they really?
Lucky You cleanse’s website says that, “Basic elements required for existence such as air, food, and water often include pollution and chemicals,” and that their juices will help you to detoxify from these.
Another prominent cleanse, Urban Remedy, says that cleansing will benefit you if you “experience… skin problems including acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis; fluid retention, excess weight and cellulite,” among others.
While Orchard St cleanse’s website goes as far as saying that cleansing can aid in helping couples with their fertility; “if you plan on conceiving, we highly recommend a three to six month cleanse programme for both partners”.
If all is to believed, juice cleanses are pretty incredible, right? Not if you’re Samantha Turner, a Melbourne-based nutritionist.
“We have to understand that our bodies do an excellent job of detoxifying all on its own, our liver, kidneys and intestines filter all unwanted things we digest and expel them through urine, bowel movement, breath and sweat. It is not necessary to do a juice cleanse to eliminate toxins,” she explains.
“We have The Dietary Guidelines of Australia for a reason, and they outline how we should always eat healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.” (Post continues after gallery.)
But it isn’t just the “detoxing benefits” that people should be wary of. Another thing to consider is the amount of sugar that is included in some of the juices.
“When people are on a juice cleanse they are consuming high levels of natural sugars. These have a tendency to give the individual extreme blood glucose fluctuations, this happens when the blood glucose levels rise and fall rapidly and has the ability to cause havoc with brain function and overall energy levels,” Turner says.
Some juice cleanses offer as little as 3,415kj a day. The Dieticians Association of Australia recommend that the average adult has a daily intake of 8,700 kj. So it definitely pays to add up how much you’ll be consuming before starting.
"Low calorie content meals [or juices] are not safe for everyone. Determining whether the cleanse is safe would depend on how long you intending on completing it for," explains Turner.
"Low calorie intake over a long period of time can send the body into starvation mode, meaning the body starts to use muscle tissue present in the body for energy instead of fats. Symptoms of this could be weakness, feeling tired and changes in mood."
Side effects like feeling dizzy, foggy or being unable to concentrate can be caused due to the fact that juices are generally high glycemic index foods.
"Glucose fuels our brains and without a constant supply, which comes best from consuming low glycemic index foods such as whole grains, we can have a loss of concentration, motivation, a feeling of dizziness and mood changes," Turner says.
If you're set on doing a juice cleanse, it's a good idea to visit your Doctor beforehand, especially if you are on medication, are diabetic, pregnant, breastfeeding or have any acute or chronic disease.