The Juice Cleanse Craze

Your body is smart. It keeps your heart beating and lungs breathing. It lets you know when it’s time to eat, sleep, and even exercise. And believe it or not, it’s able to cleanse itself so you stay energized and healthy.

So, let’s talk about juicing. Juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables are occasionally touted to replace daily meals and snacks.  Proponents suggest this helps you fill up on vitamins and limits the work it takes to digest solid food. In turn, the body is said to function more effectively towards releasing built-up toxins.

Not so fast.

When consuming a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, the liver, kidneys and colon are more than efficient at eliminating waste and toxins. In fact, we have no evidence to suggest that juicing will help better rid the body of chemicals, like pesticides.

And while a kale, spinach, apple, and ginger juice may sound appetizing (*cough cough*), you’re still missing out on vital amounts of protein and fat in the diet.

Here are the pros and cons of an all-liquid “detox” diet:

PROS

CONS

  1. Healthier than soda or store-bought juice
  2. Easy way to eat your five fruits and veggies a day
  3. Low calorie
  4. Quickly sheds excess pounds

 

  1. Lacking vital nutrients
  2. May leave you feeling tired and hungry
  3. May cause blood sugar spikes
  4. Mostly water loss, resulting in weight regain
  5. Expensive

The bottom line

Juice cleanses may be good weight loss motivators (a pure fruit and veggie liquid regimen is bound to be low calorie), but aren’t realistic (or safe) in the long run. More than likely, they won’t provide your body with all the nutrients required to work optimally.

Your best bet to “detox” is to simply increase your intake of fruits and vegetables—in any form—and keep juices as part of a balanced diet, if you like them.

Still worried about your exposure to chemicals?

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. But a way to further reduce your risk, is to buy organic when you can.  That said, typically organic foods are lower in pesticides, but harder on your wallet.  Luckily, not all conventionally grown foods contain the same levels of pesticides.

Check out the chart to learn when to splurge and when to save:

Dirty Dozen

higher in pesticides

GO ORGANIC

Clean Fifteen

lower in pesticides

SAVE SOME $$

Apples

Celery

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumbers

Grapes

Hot Peppers

Nectarines

Peaches

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

Sweet Bell Peppers

Asparagus

Avocado

Cabbage

Cantaloupe

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Kiwi

Mangos

Mushrooms

Onions

Papayas

Pineapple

Peas

Sweet Potatoes

For additional information, visit the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce 2013.

About the author:

Andrea Krivelow is a Dietetic Intern at Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Nutrition from The Pennsylvania State University. Shortly after graduating, she worked as a Community Nutritionist at a local Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, during which time she completed her Master’s degree at Northeastern University.

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Our Be Fit Nutritionists are comprised of dietetic interns studying at Massachusetts General Hospital. During their internship, they receive training on acute care nutrition, ambulatory and community nutrition, food service systems management, and research. Their comprehensive work is done in collaboration with registered dietitians.

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