Each week, MyHealthNewsDaily asks the experts to answer questions about your health.
This week, we asked dietitians and doctors: Is there such a thing as a healthy juice cleanse? Here’s what they said.
“There are products out there that claim to be cleansers, but there’s no reason an individual needs to cleanse. Clean eating is what you need to do. Clean eating, not cleansing. Clean eating is basically if you eat a healthy diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains — your body will naturally cleanse itself. So our body does do that — we’re cleansing naturally every day. We don’t need a product to do that. When people claim they feel better after a cleanse, my response is anyone will feel better if they’ve been eating junk. So ideally, you want to be eating healthy, and then there’s no reason to even think you need to go on a cleanse.
When it comes to cleansing or detox — those seem to be the words of the moment — there’s no harm after one day. Is there any advantage? Probably not, but there’s no harm in one day. But to be on cleanses or juice fasting or detox for weeks, you’re putting your body at nutritional risk. There’s no way you can meet all your nutritional needs, which consist of vitamins and minerals, from a beverage. And the other thing is when you do go on these cleanses or detoxes, you also are prone to feeling irritable, tired, fatigued, and that shouldn’t be. One does not need to get healthy and feel like crap while doing it. It’s counterintuitive.”
– Keri Gans, registered dietitian, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of “The Small Change Diet” (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
“You do not need to do anything cleansing, per se, because you have a wonderful organ in your body called the liver. You don’t need to do any kind of food-based cleansing. People sometimes will do a day where they’ll just drink beverages, and there’s no need for that. If you’re looking for weight management strategies, the best method for long-term weight management is just to try to take in less calories and displace foods with less nutrition, like sweetened beverages and grain-based desserts, with more whole grains, fruits and veggies. It’s more nutrition and it will help cut calories. The best cleansing for your body is a diet that is well-balanced, plant-based and meets your fiber and nutrient needs.”
– Joan Salge Blake, registered dietitian and clinical associate professor at Boston University
“The cleanse thing has been a fad for a couple of years, but there’s honestly really no true cleanse because no matter what, your body will make metabolic waste. A lot of people want to go on cleanse diets because they think it’ll cleanse themselves or give them a jump start on weight loss. It will help them with weight loss because they eat so little. This is not a lifestyle change to stay on. Really, to “cleanse” yourself, drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables is better for your diet. It doesn’t sound exciting, and it’s not what people want to hear, but that’s the best thing for us.
The irony is this: We have a society who eats out regularly, many of whom eat at fast food restaurants regularly, and then want to cleanse themselves with a diet and basically not consume anything for a few days. Are they going to then, after they cleanse, eat healthfully? Will that change the way they eat? I think not. So the thing is if they gradually take out some of the bad and increase fruits and veggies, that will help with their overall health and “cleanse” in the sense that they’ll have fewer processed foods in their system.
It’s another fad, and people need to realize there’s never a quick fix. A long-term change will be far better for them than thinking they’re cleaning out their bodies in a few days, which really isn’t happening anyway.”
– Stella Volpe, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia; registered dietitian
“I have not been able to find any scientific evidence that juice fasting does anything specifically beneficial. It is good to eat fruit and vegetables. To the extent that they are in juice, that is a good thing; however, the same ingredients would equally be beneficial if they were solid and chewed and not juiced. The teeth and the stomach are great juicers. They turn what you eat into juice and you digest it anyway. Pre-juicing food is great for people who find juice pleasurable. The “cleanse and detoxify” idea is nonsense, except that a juice fast includes abstaining from nicotine or alcohol. Nicotine is toxic and so, in excess, is alcohol. It is good to avoid ingestion of toxins. The body, however, is not dirty inside and in need of cleansing. If you believe in evidence-based interventions, this one has no purpose. If you believe in shamanism and faith-healing, it’s as good as any other form in that genre.”
– Dr. Michael Gershon, professor and chairman of the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center
“My short answer is a resounding ‘NO.’ When I hear cleanse I think, ‘Drano? Enemas? Starvation?’ None sound appealing, safe or effective long-term. America is paying the price today of ignoring good nutrition and resorting to ridiculous and ineffective and unhealthy fad diets, such as the “cleanse.” We have an epidemic of obese and malnourished people of all ages. It never ceases to amaze me how people who are otherwise smart and accomplished make irrational decisions regarding weight loss. We need more nutrition education in schools of children and parents. It’s time for people to wake up and decide to make healthy changes in their lives which can last. My clients tell me every day it’s easier and more enjoyable than they ever realized. They are sorry about all the time they wasted doing these silly and potentially harmful fad diets. It’s pretty simple to find a registered dietitian to get the proper advice. What’s more important than your health?”
– Katherine Tallmadge, registered dietitian, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and author of “Diet Simple” (Lifeline Press; 2002)
Pass it on: There is really no such thing as a “healthy” juice cleanse. The best way to keep our bodies healthy is to drink a lot of water and eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables.
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Follow MyHealthNewsDaily staff writer Amanda Chan on Twitter @AmandaLChan.