To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

  In the last year I have had a couple of friends decide to do “juice cleanses”. Their reasons for doing it range from “just wanting to try it” to wanting to lose weight to wanting to stop a bad habit.  I have tried my share of diets over the years but never a juice cleanse. (One time I ate only ice cream for 5 days and I did lose weight but I was pretty anxious to chew something by the end of the five days.)

Cleansing and detoxing are shaping up to be the popular trends of 2014. The fact that there are at least two companies in Shanghai who will deliver your juices to your door every morning and the growing number of detox products and plans available around town supports the evolving interest in this  unconventional health movement .

I am going to talk about juice cleansing. The problem when you open up this topic is that the words cleanse and detox get blurred. Some people cleanse to detox, some detox to cleanse. Some detoxing is natural, in other words our bodies are already very efficient at “detoxing”  nasty by products out of our systems, Mother Nature did think of everything.  For clarity’s sake today I am only going to blog about juice cleansing and I will leave the subject of detoxing diets for another day.

Juice cleanse proponents will tell you that even a 3 day juice cleanse will remove toxins, build your immune system, remove harmful microorganisms, boost energy levels and  start you on your way to weight loss. That is one mighty potent glass of juice! This would be great if it were true. In all the programs I checked out, not one told me the biology behind the juicing miracle. Often they say that it takes less energy to digest juice so your body can take that “extra” energy and focus on healing and detoxifying.

I want to know how your body knows what you want it to do?  What if you are just recovering from mouth surgery and you can only take liquids for 3 days, can your body tell the difference between that and a juice cleanse?  Logically, when you drink juice you are eating less and therefore you body has less food to digest and needs less energy for the process. Think about how you feel after a heavy meal versus a snack? Most people feel pretty sleepy after a big meal.

I am being a little cynical here but these are questions you should think about when deciding on a juice cleanse. One site said ” juicing fulfills most of the body’s nutrient requirements…” If that was real then why would you ever go back to eating.

Most plans ask you to clean up your diet a few days before you begin. Recommending that you reduce and eliminate alcohol, coffee and sugar from your diet and eat more raw fruits and vegetables.  This is sound advice and  if you make these changes  for a week or two you won’t need a juice cleanse.

As you might have guessed I am not a big believer in juice cleansing. However if you are looking to make a fresh start on your diet , a 3 day juicing adventure might just give you the jump start you need. Three days of  drinking juice will do more to change your mindset than your body and probably won’t do any harm. Longer juice cleanses become juice fasts and , a juice fast for 5-10 days can do physical harm, no matter what the plans tell you.

The best way to detox or cleanse is to remove/reduce the sources of the toxins from your diet in the first place. This relieves a lot of stress on our body’s natural detox systems. Here are some simple steps to detox your diet:

1. Reduce/eliminate alcohol

2.Reduce/eliminate coffee intake

3. Avoid processed foods

4. Avoid white sugar and sugar sweetened beverages

4. Don’t heat food in plastic containers (think microwave)

5. Use a stainless steel water bottle.

6. Stop smoking (anything)

Follow these suggestions and I bet you will lose weight , have more energy and probably pretty skin too.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!