Juice cleanses: healthy or hype?

Juicing enthusiasts make many claims in defence of their liquid diets. You may have heard that juices can draw toxic substances out of the body, promote an alkaline (as opposed to acidic) system, and even give the gut a rest from digestion — and those promises are just for starters.

When Australian businessman Joe Cross shed a huge 37 kilos on a 60-day diet of just fruit and vegetable juices, and filmed the process for his documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, he became an international celebrity. He’s subsequently made a fortune by peddling his program and book, The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet, which, he claims, will “power up your system”. Cross is persuasive, but for many health experts, his argument raises several concerns.

The detox myth

Most dietitians agree that juicing is a great way to add a variety of fruit and vegetables to our diets, but they remain sceptical about the concept of detoxing.“We have no scientific reason to detox,” says Longfield. “Our liver and kidneys are well equipped to rid our systems of toxic substances.”

Like other fad diets, a quick ‘juice detox’ won’t keep weight off for good. “Extreme diets that eliminate complete food groups, such as grains, dairy and protein (meat, fish and plant-based sources), set alarm bells ringing for dietitians as these kinds of regiments are unsustainable ways to lose weight,” says Longfield. “First, they’re not satisfying by any means, and second, they lack vital nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin B12.”

In general, consuming fewer kilojoules results in weight loss, but do you really want to drink nothing but juice for the rest of your life? “To slim down and stay that way, you need to make sustainable lifestyle changes that modify what you eat and increase how much you move,” advises Longfield.
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