January 30, 2015
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The claim is that it clears your body of toxins and can help you lose weight. But is a cleanse really necessary, and more important, is it safe?
Your body generally does a good job of flushing out toxins it absorbs from the environment, but sometimes it doesn’t work as efficiently as it could. When this happens, you may feel tired or irritable, and an occasional juice cleanse can help your body get back on track. A cleanse involves eliminating solid foods and drinking your nutrients in the form of fruit and vegetable juices. A good cleanse lasts about three days, during which you drink anywhere from 48 to 72 ounces of a variety of freshly squeezed produce, such as spinach, kale, beets, carrots, apples and pineapple, and ideally nut juices (like cashew or almond milk) for protein and healthy fat.
Don’t do a cleanse during times of stress or if you have underlying health conditions. Also know that going back to your old eating habits can be jarring and may cause stomach discomfort. For a few days post-cleanse, follow a mostly vegetarian diet, then slowly return to a healthier version of your former diet.
WOODSON MERRELL, MD, director of integrative medicine at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City
There’s not a lot of evidence that cleanses are beneficial to your health or do much for your body. Your liver and kidneys are the main organs that flush toxins out of your system, and generally they work just fine. For some people, a juice cleanse can be a good launching pad to establishing better eating habits since it does help you focus on cutting out junk food. But be aware that a cleanse can have some unpleasant side effects, including headaches, fatigue, bad breath and constipation or diarrhea. And don’t do a juice cleanse for more than a few days, or your body will start to miss out on the essential fats and proteins that it needs. Also, be sure to check with your doctor beforehand to find out if it’s a safe plan for you.
MICHAEL ROIZEN, MD, chief wellness officer, Cleveland Clinic and cofounder of RealAge.com
If you’re trying to change your eating habits and lose weight, a juice cleanse can give you a psychological boost. But most of the pounds shed on a cleanse are water weight and will come back when you start eating regular food. Instead, take the best part of a juice cleanse, which is the focus on fresh produce, and build your diet around that. Eat foods in their natural state–whole grains like oatmeal and barley, nuts and seeds, lean protein like chicken, fish and lean cuts of beef, and plenty of fruits and vegetables–and cut out as many packaged foods as possible. You’ll get the same nutrients, plus the fiber that is often lost in juicing, so you’ll feel more satisfied.
KAREN ANSEL, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and coauthor of The Calendar Diet
Bottom line A juice cleanse isn’t necessary to detox your body, but if you can’t seem to get out of a junk food rut, trying one for no more than three days can help jumpstart healthier eating.
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Last modified: January 30, 2015
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