It seems like everyone has tried a juice cleanse at least once and some celebs appear to do nothing but drink juice. Cleanse enthusiasts say they believe fasting detoxifies their system, purifies it, and helps prevent illness and disease. Others may turn to a cleanse when they feel they’ve blown their diets, need a quick fix, and want to lose weight in time for an event.
Given the incredible phytonutrients, fiber, and enzymes present in many cleanses, it would be difficult to blame anyone for thinking a juice cleanse is anything but healthy; after all, when is the last time most of us got a dose of kale, coconut, pomegranate, barley grass, and organic spirulina in one meal?
But the juicing trend isn’t without its share of critics. Some health experts say that cleanses are a whole lot of hype and can be downright dangerous because they deprive the body of essential nutrients–and that they aren’t as effective in keeping weight off as many people think.
“The main nutrient of concern is protein, because lack of protein leads to loss of muscle, which in turn decreases metabolism –not what you want if you’re trying to lose weight,” says Kristie LeBeau, a registered dietitian and nutritionist. “In terms of the claims that juices ‘cleanse’ the body, our liver and kidneys do that job for us, as long as we follow a healthy, balanced diet with adequate water, and avoid large amounts of toxins (like alcohol).”
Jamie Logie, a personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist, says cleanses may trick you into thinking you’re losing real weight, but that the effects are short term. “My issue with juice cleanses is that they make the body go into a slight starvation mode as you are not eating whole food and are intaking a reduced amount of calories,” Logie says. “This drops your metabolism, which makes further weight loss difficult. When you do introduce regular food back into your diet, and often more because you’ve felt so hungry, the body is more likely to store it as body fat as it believes it is going through a trauma or famine and needs to hold onto everything it can. Also the weight loss tends to be water weight and not only do you generally add it back on, but even more so, leaving you in a worse place than you started.”
Believe it or not, abusing juice cleanses can even destroy your smile. Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, who talks about juicing in his new book, The Hidden Epidemic: Restoring Oral Health, One Smile At A Time, says juices are loaded with sugar that get stuck to the enamel of teeth. “People who are doing excessive juicing will often tell you their mouth starts to feel filmy. This is because of the sugar left behind, and without needing to chew like you would with food, your mouth will not produce the proper saliva to clean your teeth after consumption,” Maddahi says. “Additionally, the high acidity in juices breaks down enamel, leading to heightened tooth sensitivity and eventually decay. Juices can also cause staining on the teeth.”
If you’re still intent on trying out a juice cleanse, celebrity life coach Lisa Haisha suggests first asking yourself what is your objective, then doing your research so that you choose a credible, healthy cleanse. “Why do you think they need a cleanse?” Haisha says. “Have you been drinking too much and feel like you need a liver cleanse? Perhaps you’re having some digestion issues and need a colon cleanse? Or maybe you generally feel like you need an annual tune up. Regardless of your choice, make sure that you have a good reason for the cleanse, otherwise you could be doing more harm than good to your already healthy body.”
When in doubt, Haisha reminds us to consult our physicians before starting a cleanse. “If you have severe concerns, I recommend communicating this to your doctor before embarking on a cleanse–the issue may require more attention than daily smoothies.”
For more beauty tips, check out the one thing you should never do when popping a pimple and 5 common beauty complaints that actually signal something may be wrong with your health.