Often, juicing is associated with a “juice cleanse,” “juice detox,” or a “juice fast.” Juicing is not inherently bad. In fact, it can be good for your diet. But it can also be misused based on unsubstantiated claims that it improves health outcomes. Simply put, juicing myths can cause more harm that good.
Juicing can be part of a healthy diet, but not your entire diet
The reality is that juicing can be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s just one component, and this false advertising can be dangerous if people interpret these claims as facts.
Juicing frequently appears in the media from celebrity endorsements for specific cleanses. In this country, we love the promise of a “quick fix,” and marketers do their best to appeal to this desire.
The history of snake oil salesmen in the US is fascinating yet troubling. Unfortunately, wellness scams still exist today that involve companies and individuals using pseudoscience to sell products. This confusion can lead consumers to make misguided assumptions and purchases while trying to improve their health.
Juicing is conflicting because fresh fruit and vegetable juices are full of vital nutrients that improve health. Still, sometimes its advocates promise more than what can be delivered from juicing.
Juicing Myth #1: Juicing is a quick fix for weight loss.
Rebuttal: Juicing can lead to initial weight loss, but that weight is almost always regained
According to the most recent data from the CDC, obesity prevalence is nearly 42% of adults in the United States. So, it’s no surprise that we are looking for ways to lose weight.
Nutrition experts do not recommend juice cleanses for weight loss. Evidence shows that with many fad diets, including detox diets, the weight is regained once solid food is reintroduced.
Juice cleanses will likely lead to weight loss in the short term, but it is not a good long-term solution. Depending on the cleanse, some allow for solid foods and snacks, whereas others are only liquids.
The initial weight loss after juicing for a few days mostly comes down to math. Only (or mostly) drinking fruit and vegetable juice and eliminating other high-calorie foods leads to weight loss due to a calorie deficit, which is simply consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Additionally, drinking liquids in large amounts will inevitably lead to more bathroom breaks and a loss in water weight.
It’s also important to consider the mental health aspects of juicing. Juice cleanse diets are harmful to those with or at a high risk of eating disorders. It’s not fun to feel hungry or like you are punishing yourself for previously overindulging. This notion of restriction can create an unhealthy relationship with food.
Juicing Myth #2: Juicing detoxifies the body
Rebuttal: The human body has natural detoxification processes
Many juice cleanses promise to “flush out toxins” from the body, but these toxins are not identified. In addition, there is a big misconception that the body, specifically the kidneys and liver, needs to be “detoxed.” These organs filter blood and eliminate waste or toxins every day. However, good nutrition will help give your body the tools needed to function optimally, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything special to detoxify your body.
“Cleansing” is a broad word that can be used similarly to detoxing. Still, the body’s most natural way of cleansing is through bowel movements; ironically, juicing counteracts this process by limiting fiber intake. So if you juice, make sure you get plenty of fiber from other sources!
All in all, the idea that juicing detoxifies the body is outright false.
Juicing Myth #3: Juicing provides all the nutrients you need.
Rebuttal: Juicing can be part of a balanced diet but should not replace whole foods
There is no doubt that juices contain several beneficial nutrients and compounds. A 2017 study investigated the impact of a 3-day juice cleanse on the gut microbiome. The results indicated an improvement in the composition of gut bacteria. Evolving research tells us that the gut microbiome impacts many facets of health.
Be sure to get plenty of fiber if you juice regularly
However, whole foods contain all of these compounds, plus some. The most significant nutrient deficiency in fresh-pressed or cold-pressed juices is fiber. Whenever fruits and vegetables are processed for their juice, much of the food’s pulp and other fibrous parts are left behind.
Adults in the US need more dietary fiber. On average, it’s estimated that most people get 15 grams of fiber daily, about half the recommended amount of 25-30 grams. Essentially, fiber is not something you want to be sacrificing.
Juicing Myth #4: Juicing can cure diseases like cancer.
Rebuttal: There is currently no substantial evidence that juicing treats explicitly disease
The “food as medicine” mantra is based on good intention, which is to advocate for less pharmaceutical intervention and instead adjust the diet by incorporating more functional foods and less of the bad stuff. This is important, as we should be turning to whole-food diets and other lifestyle changes to prevent and manage chronic diseases.
However, juicing myths like this can be dangerous, especially for those with existing medical conditions.
Food is not medicine
Food being used to “treat” medical conditions is not the answer. It’s essential to seek advice from a medical professional if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medication. Juicing can actually be harmful to those with kidney conditions.
Individual compounds in foods have been studied in regard to the treatment of specific conditions, but this type of clinical research only sometimes directly translates to real-world applications. Therefore, no substantiative evidence says juicing treats any particular disease or condition.
The Role of Juicing in a Healthy Lifestyle
Benefits of Juicing
Consuming an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables is crucial for overall health. If juicing helps someone who struggles to get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet through whole foods, juicing can be a convenient way to increase consumption.
This is debatable, but doing a few days of juicing or detox may be an excellent way to jumpstart dietary changes or before doing an elimination diet to identify trigger foods. Although if you’ve been overconsuming and feel the need to reset your diet, it’s still best to simply follow a healthy diet to get back on track rather than do anything extreme, like a detox.
If you do choose to go the juice cleanse route, just make sure to maintain a healthy diet post-cleanse, or else putting your body through a juice fast is a waste. This type of “yo-yo dieting” can actually be considered more harmful than doing nothing.
Juicing as Part of a Balanced Lifestyle
To set the record straight, there is nothing wrong with drinking fresh and cold-pressed juices. You can have them alongside a meal or as a snack between meals.
In addition, juices can benefit those who don’t necessarily get enough fruit and vegetable in their daily diet.
While fresh juices will provide a good amount of vitamins and minerals, so will a variety of plant-based foods. If you enjoy drinking your nutrients, adding fruit to smoothies is a better way to get all of these nutrients but retain the fiber. You can add all of the fruits and vegetables intended for the juice, but also add things like chia seeds, flax, oats, etc., to keep up your fiber intake.
The critical aspects of health and wellness are not in the nutrients we consume but in overarching themes like sustainability, enjoyment, and fulfillment. If you’re aiming for good overall health, what you put into your body is a perfect place to start. Of course, incorporating movement and physical activity into your daily routine is also integral. Just follow the fundamentals of a healthy, well-rounded diet, and depending on your circumstances, that may or may not include juicing.
Another factor in this equation is that fancy juices can be expensive compared to whole foods. It’s crucial that eating healthy is viewed as achievable by anyone. For someone with limited financial resources, it’s probably best to skip the juicing and buy whole foods.
However, if you like drinking fresh juice, are aware of its limitations, feel that it benefits your well-being, and have the financial means, then feel free to continue your juicing habits as you wish! The important thing is that you feel empowered to make informed decisions about your health rather than being falsely persuaded by marketing or unreputable sources.
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