It’s spring! Some of us will kick our fitness regime into high-gear as we get our “summer bod” ready. Others may look to a spring detox to help us feel refreshed, and a brave few may go as far as completing a multi-day juice cleanse. But do these juice cleanses actually work?
Before you go and order your 3-day cleanse, let us look at a little background on detoxification processes in our body.
Our liver is a major detoxification organ, along with our kidneys, and our skin. When one is out of whack from toxic buildup, the others start working overtime. For example, if you’ve had a long weekend of drinking, or putting processed foods in your body, you may notice that you start to break out.
While your liver does a fantastic job at cleansing the toxins and excess hormones from our body, we must admit: we put a lot more stress on it than there has been in the past. Everything from our cleaning products, to air pollution, can greatly impact our body’s ability to detox itself efficiently. So completing some form of cleanse on a seasonal, or yearly basis may be helpful.
However, for most people, a juice cleanse is not what you’re after.
In theory, a juice cleanse seems like a great idea: you get a whole lot of vitamins and minerals, in one small bottle. The best part is that, for most of it, someone else does all the work for you! Plus, there are a variety of options and lengths for cleanses. A seasoned pro may opt for a full 5 days, whereas a newbie might choose a 1-day or 3-day cleanse.
Let us first look at the positives:
1. Juice cleanses are high in vitamins and antioxidants.
You are getting a lot of vitamins and nutrients in each little sip. Many of these are extremely beneficial for your overall health.
2. It’s made for the veggie haters.
If you turn your nose up to vegetables every time they near your plate, a juice cleans can help you to get in your daily servings in just one bottle.
Here are a few tips if you’re looking to add some more veggies into your life.
3. It gives your digestive system a rest.
Historically, we didn’t always have easy access to food. We needed to hunt it, farm it, kill it ourselves, etc. This meant that, if there wasn’t food around, it may be a few hours or a few days before we ate next. Our digestive systems were given a rest and our blood sugar could stabilize. We may even go into ketosis during these times of not eating.
However, juice cleanses aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Here are a few things to remember:
1. They are usually high in sugar.
A juice cleanse is just that: juice. Fruits and vegetables all have carbohydrates in them, and once the fibre is stripped off, you are mainly left with sugar. This can lead to a blood sugar spike, causing extreme cases of “hangry”.
2. They lack fibre.
Fibre is what helps our body to excrete the waste in our bowels. Without it, toxins just kind of keep recycling themselves in our bodies, possibly causing damage, stress and inflammation.
3. They lack protein and healthy fats.
Protein lays the foundation for healthy muscles, and fats help not only our hair and skin stay supple, but provides nutrients for our brain to function optimally and our hormones to stay balanced.
4. You won’t actually lose weight.
If you are completing a juice cleanse to lose weight, you likely want to re-think this. A cleanse is a temporary fix for weight loss. While you may drop a few pounds by day 3, you will gain it quickly back when you are done.
5. Cold liquids slow down digestion.
Similar to the “lacking fibre” issue, constantly drinking cold liquids, or eating cold foods actually slows down your digestive fire and makes it harder to excrete waste from our systems. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practices, they regularly consume warm liquids and foods to keep energy, and our bowels, moving.
What are some tips if you still wish to complete a juice cleanse or a spring detox?
1. Choose an all-green and low-fruit cleanse.
If you really love to juice cleanse, choose one that is low in fruit and high in vegetables to reduce your risk of blood sugar spikes and feelings of hanger later in the day.
2. Make sure it includes a nut mylk.
Having a nut mylk like hemp seed, or almond mylk can help to increase satiety and add healthy fats and fibre into your day. Bonus points if it uses warming spices like cinnamon!
3. Try a smoothie or soup cleanse instead.
This is also much easier than a juice cleanse. While you give your digestive system the rest that it deserves, you still have fibre to help you feel satiated, and to keep things clear in your bowels.
If you notice that a smoothie cleanse leaves you craving more, or constantly chilled through the day, opt for blended soups that include vegetables, warming spices, and healthy fats like avocado oil. Keep inflammatory foods, like grains, dairy and gluten, out for the duration of the cleanse.
4. Try intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting better mimics our natural eating patterns. While going completely food-free for days on end may not be what you’re after, try one day consuming only water and gut-healing broths.