What is a juice detox?
A juice cleanse is a type of detox diet involving the consumption of fruit or vegetable juices for a short period of time. This diet typically lasts for 1-3 days and can involve homemade juices using a juicer, or store-bought juices. Those who take part in a juice cleanse are under the impression that they will eliminate toxins from their body, improve their gut health and digestion as well as enhancing their general health. Now, let’s have a look at what the science tells us.
The difference between drinking juice and eating whole fruits/vegetables.
When a fruit or vegetable is juiced, the machine removes the pulp and the juice is extracted. The benefit of mixing together different fruits and vegetables into a juice is that we are able to consume a larger variety and volume of nutrients in just one drink. But unfortunately, it’s not all good news. The caveat is that you are now consuming a much larger amount of sugar in one go…
Look at it this way. You need around 4 large oranges to make a glass of orange juice, which goes down a treat. But could you sit and eat 4 oranges in one go? When drinking juice, you are consuming the same number of calories as the equivalent whole fruits or vegetables. The only thing missing is the bulky insoluble fibre, which is what allows us to feel full when we eat them whole. Juices don’t contain protein either, which along with fibre is a key element to keeping full and maintaining muscle mass when losing weight.
Fibre also slows down the rate at which we absorb sugar into our bloodstream, so juicing is likely to leave you feeling ravenous and lethargic soon after. This is precisely the reason why one extra serving a day of juice may be associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women. Removing the skin and fibre also gets rid of the health benefits associated with consuming them. For example, removing the skin of an apple decreases the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant. Juice on its own contains a lower nutritional value than the equivalent.
Does a juice detox really remove toxins?
Those who are looking to ‘detox’ need not turn to a juice diet to achieve this. Detox diets are not actually required to cleanse the intestines and body of waste products for good health. Fibre-rich whole grains, fruits and vegetables combined with plenty of water are a more effective and safe way to detoxify your body, as these can flush out your intestines. Fibre is also imperative to feed the good bacteria in your gut, which we need to maintain our gut health. Luckily, we are also well equipped with a natural detoxification system made up of the kidneys and liver. Functioning liver and kidneys filter the blood and expel toxins, continuously cleansing the body. If you want to lend a helping hand to your liver and kidneys, it may be a better idea to just cut out alcohol and junk food for a little while.
So, should we avoid juice completely?
The answer is no. Juicing can be helpful to get in extra nutrients if you are a busy individual who is always on the go. It may be a good idea to choose those that are relatively low in sugar, for example green juices. If you can, consider changing your juices to smoothies as these contain more fibre than juices and you can add sources of protein (like peanut butter or yoghurt) to make them more nutritious and filling. If you like to drink juice out of pure enjoyment, it is recommended to consume it as an addition to your vegetable and protein rich meals rather than as a substitute.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you are looking to detox your body, adopting a juice detox diet is not the best way. What’s more, no research supports the safety or efficacy of juice cleanses and there are risks of possible side effects such as diarrhoea, fatigue and irritability. Drinking vegetable juice is a healthy way to increase your intake of nutrients, but it should not replace fresh, whole vegetables in the diet which are key to your health.