Juice cleanses: healthy or harmful?

9 June 2014

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The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may still ring true, but if an apple is all you are having, does that bring the doctor right to your doorstep?

It used to be that celebrities were seen living off coffee and cigarettes, but in recent years they have traded caffeine and nicotine for freshly squeezed juice.

Inevitably, this phenomenon has been adopted by the wider public and juice cleanses, diets, fasts and detoxes keep popping up.

Although the healthier upgrade is welcome, it is not so good when people are only living on these juices alone.

The term ‘juicing’ has become a popular phrase and usually refers to a three to ten day period when a person’s diet consists mainly of fruit and vegetable juices.

BpMYOEKIEAECZqwPeople ‘juice’ for a number of reasons; to rid their body of toxins, to lose weight or to increase energy, but is a sustained diet of solely juice doing more harm than good?

Nutritionist, Angela Cali says she does not recommend juice cleanses to her clients, particularly those who are interest in losing weight.

“There are numerous juice cleanses on the market targeting weight loss.  This is a quick fix and doesn’t address the causes of weight gain, which varies from individual to individual. Mostly water is lost and once the individual returns to normal eating the weight is regained,” she told upstart.

As weight loss is likely the main reason why people juice, it is now being used to mask and create eating disorders, according to an article in The Australian.

Those who do juice cleanses, are pleased with the quick weight loss but not so happy when they return to their normal diet and the weight reappears. This is when it stops being a cleanse and worryingly becomes their regular diet.

Although juicing may have short term positive effects it will have long term negative ones, says Angela.

“In the short term people who juice cleanse may feel less bloated, although others can feel dizzy, nauseous, fatigue and hungry. However juicing for long periods can be dangerous and can put undue stress on our organs.”

Our bodies require good levels of protein, fats and carbohydrates daily for adequate sustenance. The fruits and vegetables commonly used in these cleanses do contain vital nutrients for our bodies but these alone will not suffice for a healthy diet.

Julia Prociw Charalambous is a third-year Nutrition Science student at Monash University and is annoyed at society’s obsession with juicing.

“These juice fads are just a gimmick, you are better off eating the actual fruit.”

“Overall, juices are not unhealthy but people need to be careful in how seriously they take what’s being marketed towards them with products like the nutribullet. It’s a good way to introduce fruits and vegetables into the everyday diet for those who don’t commonly consume items from this major food group.”

“However adopting a purely liquid or juice diet can give rise to deficiency of other nutrients found in meats, legumes, grains, dairy and so on, which are not necessarily foods groups that are juiced and this can lead to an overwhelming amount of health conditions,” she says.

The fad, which is largely adopted by women, is considered by health care professionals to be unhealthy, then why do so many people continue to do them?

This is due to a number of things; the current health craze which has got everybody ‘eating clean’. The excessive advertising of these juice programs and their endorsement by celebrities who credit their bodies to the cleanse.

But most of all, in a world obsessed with an unachievable perception of beauty, it is hard to turn away from something that is going to make you thin, quick.

 

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Lauren Colosimo is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe university and a staff writer for upstart. You can follow her on twitter: @laurenacolosimo.