The juice cleanse diet is a diet where you only consume fruits and vegetables in their juiced form, pulp-free. You may also consume a small amount of nuts and steel cut oats but it is typically not a part of the diet. This diet is like “a spring cleaning for your body” (Portland Juice Co, 2016). It is said that it detoxes your body because it is now free of the burden of digestion that a normal diet would have. Because the body’s main focus is no longer digesting food, it will begin to shed toxins that have been built up in one’s body over the years. It also supposedly rebuilds the immune system, provides your body will all necessary vitamins, minerals and living enzymes. This diet is meant to be short-term, lasting anywhere from 3 days to a week. It is commonly known as a diet that gives your body a break as you are not consuming any processed fats, additives and several other toxins that you may find in a regular diet.
Juice cleansing has been around since the 1990s but has only gained popularity in the 2010s. This diet is most common amongst millennials. Countless celebrities began to adopt this diet and rave about its weight loss and regenerating effects which made a huge impact on its popularity since fans were now willing to try the same diet to look like their idols.
As healthy as this diet may seem, there is an enormous amount of complications and limitations that comes with it. First, its affordability. Store-bought bottles of juiced fruits and veggies can range anywhere from $5 to $12 for a measly 355mL. The prices have gone up as the juice cleanse diet gained its popularity throughout the years. If somebody were to buy their own juice cleanser, it would cost them a few hundred dollars as well as countless grocery shopping sprees to buy their own produce. The amount of juice one piece of fruit makes is very little, so one would require a lot more fruit and vegetables than simply eating it on its own. As for health complications, this diet lacks several crucial components one needs in their daily diet. For one, they are very low in protein. Protein is a very essential macronutrient that should not be ignored for long periods of time. This diet may be very high in certain vitamins such as vitamin A and C, but it can be low in other vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, iron and calcium. People who try juice cleansing may also experience negative side effects from it since it is such a drastic change from their regular diet. For example, they may experience headaches, fatigue, brain fog, moodiness and hunger pangs. Hunger pangs may be caused from the lack of solids in their diet, which may leave them unsatiated and moody. “Be prepared for change in bowel function and frequent bathroom visits” (Applegate, 2017) Applegate warns, as the amount of liquid in this diet is significantly higher than average.
There are no long-term benefits of a juice cleanse. In fact, this approach to detoxify your body is scientifically unfounded and lacks any sort of evidence that proves it is beneficial for your health. “The digestive system operates every day to digest foods, and it doesn’t need any rest” (Applegate, 2017).
If anything, there are possible long-term mental health complications that this diet may come with besides brain fog. One may start to believe that indulging in anything other than pure liquid, low-calorie forms of fruit and vegetable juices is not allowed and should be punished. One may begin to experience guilt when going back to eating normally, as they are eating solid food again which may leave them feeling heavier. All of this will inevitably lead to an eating disorder.
Using my knowledge of these nutritional facts, my take on this diet is entirely negative. I think that this diet is one of the worst ones out there right now, especially with its popularity, for several reasons. First off, it’s crazy expensive. You would need 5-7 bottles of juice a day, multiply that by $12 and you’ll be completely broke by the end of your diet, living off of ramen noodles for the rest of your life. Second, I do not understand how somebody thinks it’s healthy to ignore an important macronutrient like protein and only focus on certain vitamins. Protein is by far the best macronutrients for satiety, which is why many feel unsatisfied during a juice cleanse. This unsatisfation might even lead to an unwanted binge once their diet ends, which they could have completely avoided if they were to simply try eating healthier. Most of the juices that I’ve seen in stores are high in vitamins A and C, especially C. There is absolutely no reason to be consuming that much of a certain vitamin because any excess will simply be filtered through your body and into your urine. One orange is more than enough for your daily recommend value of vitamin C. If you were to calculate the amount of vitamin C all juices you’d have to consume in one day, you’d be at around 400-600% vitamin C. Another downside to this diet is the ungodly amounts of sugar. Just because the sugar is fructose and coming from a natural source does not mean there is no limit. Even though consuming natural sugar is better than artificial sugar, fructose may still be harmful in large amounts, according to Healthline.com and Framingham.edu. Sugar gives the body energy, but the amount of energy would be excessive with a juice cleanse. Excess energy may lead to weight gain if you are going over your amount of calories that you must consume to maintain your weight. Not only that, but these juices lack any sort of fibre whatsoever, since the majority of it is found in the pulp of the fruit or vegetable. If you were to leave the pulp in the juice, it would be slightly better since you’d at least have the fibre to balance out the crazy amounts of sugar in the juice. This diet is also not sustainable at all, even if it’s meant to be used for 3 to 7 days. It is unnatural for us to only consume liquids, and forcing yourself to do so without any time for your body to adapt is bound to make you moody, hungry and experience “withdrawal” symptoms from your normal diet. The key to eating healthy (and losing weight since that’s what most people’s goal is when they decide to go on a juice cleanse) is consistency. This diet is not consistent at all. Any supposed weight one loses on this diet is most likely water weight, which may upset them later on once they weigh themselves and find themselves to have gone back to their original weight – especially if they think that they can now eat a lot (whether it’s controlled or uncontrolled) after their diet, which leads me to my next argument. The chances of wanting to binge on sodium-filled fatty foods are significantly higher than if you were to simply adopt a consistent healthy diet, which will end up making you retain water once more, making the person think they did not lose any weight and maybe even gained weight. Our bodies are meant to digest food, there is absolutely no scientific reason that our system needs some kind of break from digestion. Your body knows what its doing, which is why there are no long-term side effects of overindulging for a day or two – because your body knows how to handle anything that comes its way. Same goes for days you happen to undereat – you will not lose weight if you simply forgot to eat enough for a day. This is exactly why a short-term diet such as the juice cleanse will not do anything for your body either. Your digestion will not significantly improve, your immune system will not suddenly become the strongest immune system in the world, and you certainly will not lose a lot of weight in the course of 3-7 days because CONSISTENCY IS KEY. But in order for your diet to be healthy, you must be sure that your diet consists of all important macro and micronutrients rather than focusing on select few. This is why I find this diet absolutely nonsensical.