So I was recently asked by someone if juice cleanses are actually good for detoxing. He said everyone at his office is on a juice cleanse and he wanted to know if it was a scam or legit. Great question! With the popularity of juice cleanses on the rise, many other people are likely wondering the same thing. So I decided to share with everyone my thoughts on the topic.
Are juice cleanses a scam?
The short answer:
Yes, juice cleanses are a scam.
The slightly longer answer:
You don’t need juice in order to detox, nor do you need to starve yourself. Your body is constantly detoxing on its own through your liver, kidneys, skin, cardiovascular system, respiratory system and lymphatic system.
The long answer:
As I just mentioned, your body does a great job of detoxing constantly all on its own. Every time you sweat, urinate, poop, breathe, sleep – you are detoxing. Again, you don’t need to go on a juice fast in order to do this. In fact, going on a juice fast can actually be harmful.
You need protein to detox
Your body actually requires protein for detoxification, and juice is just sugar – it’s not a good source of protein. The body detoxes in 2 phases: Phase I and Phase II.
In Phase I detoxification, enzymes breakdown toxins into intermediate metabolites that are often even more toxic. After Phase I, some toxins are ready to be eliminated from the body (such as caffeine), while most go on to Phase II.
Phase II has 6 pathways that further breakdown the toxins from Phase I and bind them to proteins to be removed from the body. So, protein has an extremely important role when it comes to detoxification. And drinking only juice and not eating is actually making it harder for your body to detox.
Juice is high in sugar, but low in protein & fat
Another problem with a juice fast is that the fiber is removed from the fruit. Fiber helps to slow down the digestion process, without it your blood sugar is likely to spike and crash. Now this is not to say that juice is unhealthy, but in this context it would be. You’re on a blood sugar roller coaster all day by drinking juice and not eating. You’ll be hangry and miserable all in the name of “detoxing” when in reality you’re really not doing your body any favors.
You’ll also be missing out on two vital macronutrients and put your body into starvation/survival mode. This will effect your metabolism and cause your body to store more fat.
Juice fasts can actually be dangerous
If you have a serious health issue, such as diabetes, juice fasts can be very dangerous. Juice fasts put you on a blood sugar roller coaster that can cause serious issues for diabetics. Having erratic blood sugar can exasperate other health conditions too, such as PMS.
In modern society, we are exposed to loads more toxins than humans of past generations. This does put a burden on our body and it is helpful to support detoxification organs and systems. I just don’t think a juice cleanse is the way to do it.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I did partake in a detox just a few months back in January. However, it was more of an elimination diet that included foods that are helpful in supporting detoxification as well as other methods of supporting detoxification such as exercise, sauna, yoga and more which I’ll discuss more. You need to be eating food if you want to detox appropriately, especially protein.
Supporting the cardiovascular system
Did you know that everything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream? This is a big deal because our blood is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our body and it’s extremely sensitive to toxins.
We can support our cardiovascular system by limiting our use of cosmetics and cleaning products and such that contain toxic ingredients. I try to use as many natural products as I can. You can get my free ebook Beautiful Skin Starts from the Inside (along with my PMS guide and 4 healthy swaps you can implement today!) which has links to all the natural cosmetics and skincare products that I use by signing up for my email list.
Supporting the lymphatic system
Lymph is a vital fluid for detoxification. It flows through the lymph nodes and filters out bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The lymphatic system acts as a pre-filter for toxins before they go to the liver – to prevent overload on the liver.
Lymph flows slowly and is stimulated by the movement of the lungs, contraction of muscle, and nearby skeletal tissue. Exercise is crucial for the health of the lymphatic system. Dry brushing is great for stimulating the lymphatic system. I talked about my dry brush experience on Periscope a few months back – you can watch the videos here (scroll to the bottom). Jump rope and bouncing activities (like a rebounder/trampoline) are also great for stimulating the lymphatic system.
Supporting the digestive system
Along with breaking down food and absorbing nutrients, the digestive system also examines the food for foreign invaders, detoxifies poorly digested/fermented toxins, filters food and bacteria, and eliminates toxins from the body.
If you are experiencing digestive issues, it’s important to address/correct them. Not digesting your food properly can lead to a host of burdens on the body – including your mental and emotional health.
The main digestive organs involved in detoxification are the liver, gallbladder, and intestines. The liver filters toxins, the gallbladder sends them out of the body via bile, and the intestines act as a barrier, preventing toxins from entering the body.
If you are experiencing issues such as constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating, and acid reflux, there’s a good chance your body may be having a hard time with detoxification. Digestive issues can be very difficult to remedy (I should know, I’ve had them for over 10 years). A good starting point is to eliminate foods that are known to cause problems for people as a test. See if you improve and start testing which foods work for you and which don’t. If you’ve been having trouble doing it alone, there’s always the option to work with an NTC (like me!) or NTP to help you figure out what the problem is. I’ve worked with multiple nutritionists/practitioners myself to help me figure out what I should be eating. Yes, I could try and be my own client, but I need accountability, a second set of eyes and someone to answer to in order to stick with it.
A good place to start is eliminating grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, soy, and eggs for a few weeks. Note if your symptoms improve. If so, add the foods back – one at a time – to see what foods work and which ones don’t. Include gut-healing bone broth in your diet.
Supporting the kidneys
Our kidneys are also vital to detoxification. They work to remove toxins from the body via urination. To keep our kidneys working optimally, it is important to stay hydrated and be sure you are getting all your electrolytes. A great way to be sure you are getting all your electrolytes in, is to drink coconut water, mineral water, or homemade Gatorade (water or coconut water, pinch of sea salt, juice from fresh citrus fruits, raw honey).
Supporting the skin
Another way our body releases toxins is through the skin via sweat. We can help our body detoxify by exercising to the point of sweating and by spending time in saunas, sweat lodges, and steam rooms.
* Grass-fed/pastured meats and poultry
* Coconut oil
* Wild-caught seafood
* Leafy greens
* Cruciferous vegetables
* Grass-fed/pastured bone broth
* Fermented foods
Summing it up
Fresh squeezed juice is not “bad” for you. In fact, I believe it’s quite healthful. It’s full of micronutrients and enzymes. However, an all-juice, no food “detox” can actually be dangerous. If someone is trying to sell you a “juice cleanse,” run the other way.
Your body is constantly detoxing on its own, but you can support detoxification organs with exercise, limiting use of products that contain toxic ingredients, and a nutrient-dense, whole food diet.
Have a thought to add or question? Leave it in the comments below!