There’s a new health craze making waves with people looking to drop a few kilos.
These days, you can’t turn a corner without seeing a green smoothie or juice bar. Sportswear clad celebrities share photos of their pre-bottled juice cleanse programs to instagram and people everywhere are following suit. Juicing has taken over almost as quickly as it promises to shed the kilos, but in the rush to find a quick weight loss fix, people may be overlooking the dangers of this new trend.
The first and most obvious downside to juice detoxing is all of the painful side-effects that come along with foregoing food for any extended period of time. Common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, mood swings, aches and pains, sleep disturbances, body odour, flu-like symptoms, skin complaints, reduced immunity, and asthma [i]. A drastic change, such as a detox, comes along with drastic side effects.
The second downfall of a juice cleanse is your inability to feel full. Our bodies are meant to chew, break down and digest food. When we give up part of that process, for example chewing, for even one meal, our body misses out on that satisfied feeling. The subconscious mind doesn’t like to feel deprived. Juice is not enough to satisfy this need, and could lead to binge eating later on to make up for it.
Another downfall of a juice cleanse is how difficult it is to consume a balanced diet while drinking nothing but juice. Studies show that our bodies need foods from the three necessary groups —carbohydrates, fats and proteins. A balance of these three groups gives a person constant energy throughout the day, aids in concentration, mood stabilization and weight maintenance. It’s impossible to consume a balanced diet of these three nutrients while only consuming juice, which is high in carbohydrates and low in protein.
The final let-down for many people who do a juice cleanse is how quickly they put weight back on after the cleanse is over. While it’s easy to drop weight when only drinking juice, it’s not easy to maintain that weight once a person returns to a normal diet.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of not eating solid foods (by choice) and going through painful symptoms doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily, there is another (less painful) way to get happy and healthy! Instead of a juice cleanse, I recommend getting into a routine that is much easier to maintain long-term. Focus on eating a healthy balance of the nutrients I listed earlier – fats, protein and carbohydrates. Avoid processed foods with nasty hidden ingredients such as sugars and preservatives, and opt for fresh, healthy choices such as green vegetables, fruit, salmon, nuts and hummus. If you want to make your own juice or smoothie to supplement this diet, start with a fresh fruit base and then add your other food groups: protein powder will leave you feeling full, coconut oil or avocado are fantastic healthy fats and you can’t go wrong with a few green veggies such as spinach or kale. These have endless health benefits, and when coupled with other superfoods such as aloe vera, gogi berries and spirulina, you’ll have a smoothie built for naturally detoxing and promoting digestion. Finally, try moving more; you don’t have to enter the gym to be active (although I do recommend it!), you can walk through a park, do yoga at home or even take the stairs instead of the lift.
While juice detoxing has many downfalls, there are some upsides to it. Why else would people do it? Juice detoxes often lead to rapid weight loss, so, if you still feel as though a juice cleanse is the right option for you, there are some important things to keep in mind. Since you are dramatically decreasing how much you eat, it’s vital to rest more often and perhaps take a break from the gym. It’s also important to consider that juice, even the healthy green ones, often have high amounts of sugar in, so be wary of juice detoxes with high amounts of added or natural sugar.
In general, I wouldn’t recommend a juice cleanse for anyone looking to detox. They are painful, unsatisfying, and only a short-term fix. The body is built to detox naturally, and it will do so if you stick to a healthy, balanced diet long-term.
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