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The Juice Cleanse Trend

From skinny teas, 7-day juice detoxes to master cleanses – the multi-billion-rand industry of cleansing/detoxing has been trending for years. But is it really worth it? With promises of toxin elimination, quick sustainable weight-loss and a total body cleanse many of us are enticed to start the ‘detox’ journey.

From a scientific point of view, no published research has shown the efficacy of a juice cleanse or fast. There is also no evidence that supports many of the claims such as ‘toxin elimination’ or ‘bowel cleansing’.

The caloric deficit one is bound to be in as a result of only consuming juices/teas for days will likely lead to temporary weight-loss. Subsequent weight-gain has often been reported when retuning back to a normal diet.

Another aspect to consider is that weight-loss on the scale does not necessarily mean ‘fat-loss’. Much of the weight lost during a juice cleanse is water weight. Water is stored in our muscles along with glycogen (the storage form of energy). When consuming a diet with extremely low amounts of calories the body uses up the glycogen stores for energy & the water weight goes along with it. Once again, this is temporary and the water weight lost will be restored.

Compared to whole-foods, juices lack essential macronutrients such as protein and fat.

The general protein recommendation for an adult-ranges from 0.8-2.2 grams per kilogram per day depending on one’s individual goals or underlying medical conditions. If, for example, you weigh 65kg your protein intake should ideally range from 52 – 143 grams per day. With the average juice cleanse containing roughly 17g of protein per day it is no wonder muscle mass is affected. Studies have shown that consuming inadequate amounts of protein results in the loss of lean mass. Protein is also essential for maintaining levels of satiation and plays important roles in many processes carried out by the body.

Consuming healthy fats from whole-food sources such as nuts, salmon, olive oil and avocado play a role in the absorption of nutrients. They are also involved in cell structure and optimising brain functioning.

The process of chewing and digesting whole-foods results in the release of satiety hormones thus aiding one to feel fuller for longer. Both soluble and insoluble fibre are found in fruits and vegetables. When juice is pressed, although the soluble fibre remains, much or all of the insoluble fibre is lost. Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that promotes bowel regularity, promotes satiety (hence extreme feelings of hunger when juicing) and aids in blood sugar stabilization.

One’s body is an incredibly complex system built to detox itself on its own. The function of the liver is to process toxic substances into harmless compounds that are then excreted. With the help of the lungs, skin and kidneys our bodies are capable of doing all the detoxing we need. If looking to improve one’s bodies detoxification system the entire process needs to be supported through a balanced diet and proper nutrition.

Next time you’re feeling like you’ve over indulged, instead of undergoing days of restriction, rather prioritise:

-       Increasing your water intake

-       Consuming whole-foods and meals containing lean sources of protein, unsaturated fats & unrefined carbohydrates

-       Getting outdoors and being active

All this being said, freshly squeezed juices are an easy way of incorporating more fruits and vegetables into one’s diet. When consumed in combination with whole-foods they are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and should ideally be seen as an add-on to a meal/snack.

Sipping on some freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice instead of a store-bought fruit juice blend is a much more nutritious option that will be lower in sugar and added preservatives. Here is a recipe of a health shot that is ideal when feeling under the weather or if you simply need a pick me up:

Whisk together 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of hot water and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric. Mix until the honey is incorporated and smooth. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange, a dash of cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger. Have a 30-50ml shot and store the rest in the fridge for 2-3 days.


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