Any Good? Juice Cleanses Promise Weight Loss, Health Benefits

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

From juice fasts to maple syrup-and-lemon concoctions, cleanses are all the rage for detoxing the system and shedding unwanted weight.

The Master Cleanse involves drinking lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper mixed into water. You’re supposed to drink six to twelve glasses of this mixture every day, every time you feel hungry. In addition, the Cleanse requires that you take a laxative in the morning and at night, or perform a process called the Salt Water Flush, which entails drinking a liter of water mixed with two teaspoons or a tablespoon of uniodized organic sea salt. This will produce several bowel movements and aid in what the Master Cleanse web site calls “the elimination of waste that has been stored in your body for months, even decades.” The site recommends that you perform the Cleanse for up to two weeks, but there have been people who’ve done it for more than a year at a time.

There are lots of juice-based cleanses on the market, including Organic Avenue, iZO Cleanze, and Cooler Cleanse. These juice-only cleansing programs claim to rid the body of toxins while “flooding it with nutrients.” They vary in their suggested durations – largely, how long you want to perform a juice cleanse is up to you. Juices offered in these programs include grapefruit-mint, cucumber juice, chlorophyll elixir, spinach-celery, fennel-based vegetable juice, and nut milks such as almond milk. Some of these cleansing programs also offer healthy foods that can be combined with the juices, but most suggest that if you really want to do a true detox, you should subsist on only liquids for at least three days before adding solid food to your plan.

Fans of cleanses say they help boost your energy level, clear up skin problems, boost immunity, and even treat illness – not to mention their weight-loss benefits. As a New York Times article said of the Master Cleanse, “Weight loss [is] not all that surprising, when you consider that you are essentially sucking lemons and a few teaspoons of sugar for 10 days.”

Many medical experts, however, believe cleanses aren’t necessary for health. “The bowel is self-cleansing,” says Dr. David Colbert, a New York internist and dermatologist who was quoted in the New York times article on cleanses. “It’s evolved over millions of years to do this.” Not only that, but juice cleanses flood the system with sugar, which is dangerous for diabetics, especially those who have the condition but haven’t yet been diagnosed. In addition, your body believes it is starving, so it will slow your metabolism to a snail’s pace. If you do cleanses often enough, says Nancy Kalish, a certified health coach also quoted in the Times, your metabolism might never bounce back to normal speed.

If you’re going to embark on cleanses, it’s important to remember that you can’t go back to a junk-food diet post-fast, or all the weight you’ve lost will come back fast. Look at the solid foods that accompany many juice cleanses – you can get healthy menu ideas from these items and make them yourself, or purchase them from the cleanse company. Add these foods slowly after you come off your cleanse. For example, Organic Avenue offers zucchini-based pasta with pesto and sunflower-seed falafel; Cooler Cleanse features cauliflower couscous and collard green-wrapped enchiladas. Next, add lean protein, whole grains, and fruit, and you have the building blocks for a healthy diet.

Following this type of diet can help you maintain any weight loss you’ve achieved on a juice cleanse or Master Cleanse. The important lesson here is to change your eating habits permanently – don’t just hop on a cleanse post-binge, then binge again when you’re done.

Originally published at GrannyMed