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Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Going on a Juice Fast a Good Idea?

Going on a juice cleanse, or drinking nothing but pressed juices extracted from fruits and vegetables, has been all the rage lately. The idea sounds like a good one — combat the effects of a wild night out or a life of indulgent eating with a few days or weeks of "detox" to rid your body of lurking toxins. Backed by celebrities and celebrity doctors alike, it's no wonder that drinking your diet has been gaining popularity. But is following a juice cleanse safe? Read on to learn more.
What's the Appeal?
Many of juicing's benefits are more anecdotal than scientifically based, but proponents of juicing are enthusiastic about it. Many claim that juicing vegetables and fruits allows you to absorb the nutrients easier than eating them since less digestive work is needed. Proponents also claim that following a juice-only diet can help your body detox, which may lead to more energy, clearer skin, and fewer digestive and other health issues. With high-profile juicing fans like Nicole Richie, Salma Hayek, and Gwyneth Paltrow and filmed testimonials like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead — a documentary about a man's 60-day all-juice diet and his subsequent healthy transformation — the popularity of going on an all-juice diet has only grown.

Does It Work?
The lack of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of juicing has led to conflicting information about whether it's a do or don't. Most scientists, however, agree that going on a juice fast is unnecessary for ridding your body of toxins. Our liver and kidneys are already effective at eliminating any unneeded waste, so following a liquid-based diet won't help any more than normal.
Find out more about going on a juice fast after the break.
A juice-based diet, however, can be a good way of getting far more phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables than you could normally eat, and going on a "detox" for a few days can also help jump-start a commitment to a healthier diet. Many experts, like Dr. Frank Lipman, tout the psychological effect of going on a juice fast, like motivating you to be healthier overall, or feeling like you can think more clearly. But if you're thinking of going on a juice cleanse to lose weight, know that weight loss doesn't happen for everyone, since many juice cleanse programs include an adequate amount of calories. 

Should You Do It?
The promise of a clearer, less foggy mind, more nutrients in your diet, and possible weight loss is enough to have many wanting to forgo the fork. And since we are what we eat, replacing processed foods high in saturated fat with fresh, organic produce can only help, and may even help determine if we are sensitive to any foods eliminated during the cleanse. But, depending on your particular program, detox diets like juice fasts may cause many different problems, like dehydration, nausea, or fatigue, and it can cause you miss out on other much-needed nutrients like fiber and protein. Also keep in mind that whatever benefits you experience during those few days of your detox diet will go away if you revert back to old unhealthy eating habits.
While some doctors believe that going on a juice fast won't do any harm, all recommend that you talk to your doctor to make sure your body is up for it. Dr. Oz recommends that you should never start a juice fast without first ensuring that you are eating a normal nutrient-rich diet for at least a month.

Getting Started
Not all juice fasts are created equal. Whether or not they are as restrictive as going on a Master Cleanse, one program may have you only ingesting fewer than 500 calories a day, while others allow you to drink as much juice as you want or incorporate eating fresh, whole foods as well. Do your research so you know whether or not you'll be getting all the nutrients and calories you need, and talk to your doctor before you start a detox program.
You don't, of course, have to subsist on only juice to feel its effects. If you're looking to add a healthy juice or two to your daily diet to boost energy or get more nutrients, try a few of these recipes below:
  • Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie
  • Green Juice With Apple and Carrot
  • Dr. Oz's Green Drink
Choosing the right juicer is also important. Read our guide to the top five juicing machines before you buy.

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