Your guide to the fact and fiction of juice detoxing
How do they work?
The main way in which the benefits of juice detoxing are achieved is simply by giving your digestive system a rest. Since fresh fruit and vegetable juices require little digestion, they are quickly assimilated into your body. Most of the bodily energy normally involved in the assimilation, digestion and elimination of food is therefore liberated and can be utilised for the acceleration of repair and rejuvenation processes.
Toxins deposited in the fat tissue, liver and connective tissue can cause the body to become inflamed and congested. Juice detoxing helps to release these toxins and provides the body with a huge amount of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which allow the body to more effectively neutralise and eliminate the toxins and acid wastes.
Organic fruit and vegetable juices are rich in minerals which are essential for enzymes to function optimally. If you are mineral deficient and your enzymes aren’t functioning well the cells within your body lose their ability to transport molecules across the cell membrane. This means the cells can no longer expel their waste materials properly, causing a buildup of toxic waste within the cells which can interfere even more with the cells’ other functions and result in cellular deterioration.
- The minerals and nutrients contained in juice can help with removal of toxic waste and enhance the immune system.
- Minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, boron, zinc, iron and selenium help with the elimination of toxins.
- Organic sulphur compounds help to destroy poisonous chemicals and cleanse the bloodstream and liver.
- Anti-inflammatory agents reduce inflammation.
- Polyphenols (the plant molecules which give fruits and vegetables their colour) including the carotonoids (eg, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin) and flavonoids serve as potent antioxidants.
- Vitamin C and E help with reducing oxidative stress.
Separating fact from fiction
So with all these claims espousing the benefits of juice detoxing, let’s take a closer look and investigate what a juice detox can and can’t achieve.
Rapid weight loss¬
The weight that is lost consists of water rather than fat. Once your normal eating pattern is resumed, weight is rapidly regained.
Regulating bowel movements
Some people may experience increased constipation due to a lack of fibre in the diet since most of the fibre component of the fruit and vegetables is left behind in the juicing process. Eating one light, fibre-rich meal each day such as a salad and legumes can assist in ensuring proper bowel function.
Energy levels are usually enhanced following a detoxification program; however, for the duration of the detox you may feel fatigued due to the change in diet and the lack of protein. Include one light meal per day with an easily digested, lean protein source while undertaking the detox to prevent depletion of energy reserves.
Your skin may become clearer following the detox but while on the detox an exacerbation of skin conditions such as acne may occur as toxins are eliminated through the skin. Drink lots of water in addition to the juice in order to help flush the toxins through the kidneys rather than being eliminated through the skin. Ensure you juice lots of green vegetables for their chlorophyll content to help cleanse the blood.
Enhancing kidney and liver function
The role of the kidneys in detoxification includes removing toxic waste from your blood and regulating blood pH. The metabolism of protein produces toxic waste materials like ammonia and urea that need to be eliminated. Juice detoxing and reduction of animal protein in the diet will support the kidneys in flushing out waste from your body. A juice detox based on organic fruits and vegetables will relieve the liver in detoxifying harmful substances found in foods such as pesticides, preservatives, antibiotics and growth hormones.
Enhancing sleep and reducing stress levels
With the burden removed from your digestive organs, the quality of your sleep may improve and thus enhance the restorative processes that occur when sleeping. Gaining a proper night’s sleep enables you to tolerate stress more effectively in your daily life. For long-term benefits, however, other techniques of stress reduction such as meditation are required.
Imbibing large quantities of rapidly available nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, natural antibiotics and anti-inflammatory substances all help to boost immunity.
Relieving pain and arthritis
A reduction in inflammatory pain may be experienced due to the alkalising and anti-inflammatory properties of a juice detox. The results are not usually sustainable once old eating patterns are resumed and inflammatory foods such as red meats, processed carbohydrates and acidic foods are consumed.
Lowering cholesterol levels
Elevated cholesterol levels can take months to respond to dietary interventions and will not be able to be significantly reduced by a short-term detox plan.
Reducing high blood pressure
Hypertension is usually due to a number of lifestyle factors such as stress, smoking, being overweight, a lack of exercise, high levels of salt intake, deficiency of certain minerals and high levels of alcohol consumption. A juice detox will not provide you with a long-term solution to this condition which involves so many contributing factors.
Preventing heart disease
The prevention of heart disease involves a long-term approach which includes a regular exercise regime, a healthy diet and techniques to effectively manage your stress levels. A juice detox will not prevent heart disease.
Effective juice detox
If you do decide to pursue a juice detox you need to do it properly. The week before the juice detox, prepare your body by eliminating alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat and animal meat from the diet. This is the initial preparation phase and is essential to the success of your detox program, allowing time to prepare your body systems for the elimination of toxins. An effective juice detox plan will support your body’s systems of elimination by increasing the flow of bile, enhancing liver function and regulating bowel function.
Enhance bile flow and liver function
Include lots of bitter leafy greens like rocket or watercress in your juice. Drink dandelion tea throughout the day to help stimulate liver
function, enhance detoxification and promote proper bowel elimination. Regulate bowel function
A high-fibre diet is essential to successful detoxification as fibre binds the excreted toxins in the bowel and carries them out of the body. Since the fibre is removed in the juicing process, a less restrictive detox plan which includes eating one light, fibre-rich meal each day of the detox is recommended.
Apart from providing roughage and bulk that prevents constipation, the extra fibre will also feed the good bowel bacteria necessary for healthy digestive function, keep you feeling fuller for longer and slow down the release of glucose into the body keeping your blood glucose level stable.
Eating one meal a day will also provide you with extra protein which will help combat fatigue and ensure your body doesn’t go into starvation mode where it will start breaking down muscle tissue to be used for energy. Avoid any foods to which you know or suspect you have an allergy or sensitivity.
Enjoy your juice
Drink a glass of juice at least every couple of hours and be adventurous in the variety of vegetables to ensure you get a wide range of phytonutrients. Ensure you juice lots of vegetables such as celery, carrot, lemon or lime (with skin removed), radicchio, cabbage, spinach, beetroot (including the tops), ginger, kale, parsley, watercress, rocket, endive and other leafy greens.
Include green vegetables and sprouts which are high in chlorophyll and beneficial for detoxification. Avoid citrus (apart from lemon and limes) as they can aggravate certain conditions such as arthritis. Use organic fruit and vegetables in order to avoid exposure to chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides. Ensure you drink at least eight glasses of filtered water throughout the day in addition to the juice.
After the juice detox period is concluded, reintroduce foods slowly and continue with a healthy, nutritious diet. Remember that celebrating the end of the detox with a binge on alcohol, processed carbohydrates and takeaway foods is only going to undo all the good work and cause unpleasant side-effects.
Safety of juice detoxing
For healthy individuals with no ongoing health concerns, juice detoxing for a brief period of time (ie, no longer than three days) is safe providing that it is undertaken correctly and you ensure you are getting adequate calories from the diet.
Side-effects may occur due to the change in diet and the release of toxins. Common side effects of a juice detox include headaches, fatigue, hypoglycaemia, constipation or diarrhoea, acne, increased body odour and bad breath. Minimise these side-effects by keeping up your water intake.
More serious side-effects of a juice detox can include fainting, dizziness, heart arrhythmias, vomiting and kidney problems. If these side-effects occur your detox should be discontinued and you should consult with your qualified health professional. If continued for a prolonged period of time, juice detoxing can lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly protein and calcium deficiency.
There are many individuals for whom juice detoxification is not advisable. Juice detoxing is not advisable if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have diabetes, low blood sugar, eating disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, malnutrition, addictions, anaemia, impaired immune function, nutritional deficiency, low blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, cancer, terminal illness, epilepsy or other chronic conditions
- Are about to undergo surgery or are post-surgery
- Are taking certain prescription medications. Consult your health professional before undertaking any detox program as the detoxification process can affect the way drugs react in your body.
Saskia Brown is a naturopath and nutritionist located in Sydney. She specialises in allergies and asthma. E: email@example.com, W:www.saskiabrown.com.