Holidays are a great time to indulge, so it’s no surprise that as we enter the New Year health becomes a top priority.
But sometimes we feel we need more than simple goals like working out regularly and drinking less.
We feel like we need to cleanse our bodies of the excesses we’ve devoured, of what cleansing-fans call, vaguely, “toxins.”
That need to purify ourselves explains the appeal of the juice cleanse, a program that involves subsisting on crushed and pureed fruits and vegetables for a few days.
These programs are so appealing that they bring the companies that make them quite a bit of money too. With costs for these programs ranging between $US20 and $US70 a day, they make up a big portion of the more than $US60 billion a year weight loss industry.
There’s just one big problem with the idea that a juice cleanse is the right way to transform yourself, shaking off the old year to begin anew. There’s no scientific evidence that a juice cleanse is worth it.
Juicing is marketed primarily on three ideas: First, because you are just consuming fruits and vegetables, it must be healthier than other diets. Second, because there are caloric restrictions, you will lose weight. And third, something about the “cleanse” helps remove “toxins” from your body.
But the thing is, we don’t need a juice cleanse for any of that.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is certainly healthy and is something that we should all do. But the process of juicing actually removes much of the fibre from fruits and vegetables, turning them into sugar boosts that don’t come with the same benefits of actually eating plants. By turning them into juice, we make them less healthy.
Caloric restriction will certainly help people lose weight in the short term — and there are some interesting benefits to intermittent fasting — but cutting calories can be done cheaply, simply, and sustainably, without going on an expensive and unnecessary program.
Furthermore, for most people, juice cleanses are temporary; many of these diets may not be effective long term. Many people regain weight that they lose on a temporary diet. The best way to eat healthy is actually just to stick with cooking real food at home.
As for the idea of “removing toxins,” that’s just not a real thing that juice can do. Your body naturally removes harmful chemicals through the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. No special product is needed for that, and juicing does nothing to kickstart that process — although a sustained lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise will certainly help your body keep on operating as it should.
So go ahead and make resolutions to work out, and definitely consume some more fruits and vegetables. Cook more food at home. And if you really just like juice or want to integrate it into a healthy diet, go ahead and make yourself a glass.
But don’t start the New Year with a juice cleanse.
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