Juice cleanses are a “detox diet” that involves consuming only fruit and vegetable juices for 3-10 days, with no other food or drink.
Often these juices are sold as part of a program or package deal that includes a set number of juices per day, instructions on how to complete the cleanse, and sometimes come with other pieces of self-help advice.
Many unbelievable claims are made about the miraculous benefits of juice cleansing – and they are hard to believe.
Some of the most common claims made about juice cleansing include:
- “resets” your body
- detoxifies and cleanses the body of toxins
- promotes weight loss
- improves skin complexion
- boosts energy levels
- improves mental clarity
- enhances overall health
While there may be some short-term benefits to juice cleansing, it likely has more to do with generally consuming more fruits and vegetables and avoiding the ultra-processed foods most of us eat on a regular basis.
But once the “cleanse” is over, most people return to their old eating habits and don’t see any long-term benefits.
Risks and Warnings
Not only are these juice cleanses unnecessary, unsustainable, and barely helpful (and often expensive), they may be harmful.
While fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant compounds beneficial for health, the juicing process strips away most of the fiber.
Without fiber, the material will likely move too quickly through your digestive system, meaning many of those nutrients won’t get absorbed. And when the cleanse is complete, there can sometimes be digestive complications involved with returning to typical foods, especially after the longer cleanses.
Many store-bought juices are high in sugar and other additives, which might end up being more harmful than any potential benefits.
It’s also worth considering the effects that a juice cleanse might have on your mental health. Although these cleansing programs are typically marketed with positive-sounding words like “detoxifying,” “renewal,” and “clean meals,” these terms don’t have any clinically significant meaning, and they tend to attract people with unhealthy motivations. Juice cleanses might mask or facilitate an eating disorder or lead to a damaging relationship with food.
Better Options for Better Health
If you’re looking for a way to improve your health, there are better options than juice cleansing.
Fruit and vegetable juices can be helpful for getting more nutrients into your diet, but you also need the fiber that comes with eating whole fruits and vegetables.
Reducing or eliminating highly-processed foods can improve your health, but you don’t need to do a special “detoxing” program to do this.
It might be better for your emotional well-being if, instead of focusing on restriction and deprivation, you focus on finding a sustainable and healthful way of eating that makes you happy.
Find joy in discovering new recipes and experimenting with new types of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Instead of looking for a “quick-fix” solution, invest in your long-term health by making gradual improvements to your relationship with food.