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Sara Bloms

As juice cleanses gain in popularity among celebrities and brides-to-be, it’s time to take a closer look at the myths and facts around juice cleanses.

A juice cleanse or fast is a diet where a person limits their consumption to only fresh fruit and vegetable juice, water and the occasional nut-milk for a week or more. I’m not talking about the orange juice you find in your local grocery store, a cleanse focuses on freshly-made, unpasteurized juice that’s made at home with a juicer or bought from a manufacturer of juice cleanse products.

Myth: A juice cleanse helps you lose weight.

Fact: Juice cleanses don’t cause weight loss, consuming lower amounts of calories do. After reviewing several juice cleanses, an average day of juices total about 1000 calories per day which is less than the recommended minimum of 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,800 calories per day for men. By not getting the recommended calories your body needs to function, your body will start breaking down your muscle tissue instead of fat for energy. This can trigger other health problems including significantly slow your metabolism and hinder your weight loss goals. If you do a lot of fasting, you could permanently lower your metabolism. So the myth is partly correct, you may experience some weight loss on a juice cleanse, but ultimately it’s not a healthy long term weight loss solution.

Myth: Juice cleanses reduce your risk of illness and disease.

Fact: Research has shown diets high in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Since most adults do not meet the recommendation of 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, juicing may be a way to achieve that. Unfortunately, no scientific evidence has proven that a juice cleanse is the way to go, mostly because the extreme calorie restriction leaves out critical nutrients your body needs to build and repair itself such as protein and fat. Additionally, without the consumption of fat, many of the fat-soluble vitamins from the juice are not as well absorbed.

Myth: You obtain maximum benefits from fruit and vegetables when they are juiced.

Fact: Juicing strips many foods of their fiber—which we don’t get enough of in the first place. Fiber contains zero calories, helps your body clear out the toxins, and leaves you feeling fuller, longer. By striping away the fiber, you’re also concentrating the sugars in the juice. The high sugar concentration involved with juice cleanses can contribute to extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels of diabetics therefore are not recommended.

Myth: Detoxing via juice cleanses rids your body of toxins.

Fact: Detoxing can be a very convincing thing for most but the fact is, our body doesn’t need help detoxing. Our liver, kidneys and intestines do a pretty awesome job filtering the toxins and eliminating them through urine, bowel movements, breath and sweat. In actuality, the idea of a detox is all you need to help you cut out unhealthy foods and beverages you may be consuming in excess.

How to ‘juice’ the right way.

Juicing can be part of a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains as long as you are not consuming juice exclusively for long periods of time. It can be an easy way to get your fruit and vegetables servings in to meet daily recommendations. Focus on veggie juices that are lower in sugar (not including carrots and beets which are high in sugar) and lower in calories. I love to save the leftover pulp from juicing and add it to quick breads, muffins, soups, or rice!