Why I Don’t Do Juice Cleanses (& What I Do Instead)

Making fresh juices

This post has been kindly sponsored by Wild Juice Co; however all views remain my own.

Most of us will be somewhat familiar with the concept of ‘juice cleansing’…the practice of fasting for a short period and drinking nothing but freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices to enable the body to rid itself of any toxins and waste and give the digestive system a well-needed break.

Juice cleanses can typically last from anywhere from three to five to even seven days, with most practitioners advising against any longer than this. The idea of juice cleansing (also known as ‘juice fasting’) is that by removing fibre from the diet, the intestinal tract is allowed time to rest and recuperate; any inflammation within the body is able to heal, and you’re kept sustained by the rich doses of vitamins and minerals consumed via the juices.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve never done a juice cleanse, and rarely talk about ‘cleansing’ of any sort on my channels. But, you may have also noticed that I love me a good pressed juice, and love to incorporate them into my diet here and there.

So, do I recommend juice cleansing? Do I recommend juicing at all? This blog post is here to answer those questions, and for me to give my personal perspective on juicing.

Why people choose to juice cleanse

I want to start by saying that I’m not here to bash anybody who may have tried a juice cleanse and enjoyed it, or indeed, who love to juice cleanse regularly. If it’s working for you, it’s working, and so long as the rest of your lifestyle is balanced and healthy (with a diet based all or mostly on whole plant foods), then who knows – perhaps a regular short juice cleanse can potentially be a part of that (though not at all necessary, which I’ll come to shortly).

My main issue with many juice cleanses is the reasons people do them. There are multiple reasons one might have for doing a juice cleanse, the most common ones being:

  • To lose weight (usually quickly)
  • To ‘kickstart’ a new healthy lifestyle
  • To try and heal a compromised gut
  • To recover from illness or disease
  • To still get in nutrients while appetite might be low (due to illness, see above)
  • To regain energy after a period of sluggishness.

I’ll just go through these quickly one by one, giving my own personal thoughts based on what I’ve read and learned about how our digestive system works.

1. To lose weight (usually quickly)

Hopefully I don’t need to point out why juice cleansing to lose weight isn’t a good idea, although it unfortunately tends to be the most common. Many people try a juice cleanse a week or two before going on holiday or in January to try and quickly shift some unwanted pounds.

The truth however is that only a short-lived juice diet (for around 2-3 days) has the potential to lead to any kind of immediate weight loss, and it isn’t likely to be sustained. A 2017 study of 20 people that juiced for three days were found to have lost around two pounds on average during that time, and had an increase in good gut bacteria associated with weight loss. This growth in bacteria is indeed positive; however, the weight loss came from water weight so was very short-lived. It is possible to achieve similar, if not better results from eating the plant foods whole.

Dieticians like Isbael Maples R.D, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, also warn that being on a calorie-deprived diet can lead to overreating afterwards, and that any weight loss would be quickly re-gained once participants go back to their normal diet.

2. To ‘kickstart’ a new healthy lifestyle

Another reason some people may choose to do a juice cleanse is because they see it as an initiation into a healthier way of living. Perhaps they’ve decided to ditch meat and dairy for good, or wish to cut their addictive ties with junk food. Some see juice cleansing as the perfect way to do that, as the commitment needed to do a cleanse is the perfect way to train one’s willpower when it comes to avoiding those treats they normally love. Plus, drinking nothing but fresh juice is bound to reset one’s tastebuds and make them only want to eat kale afterwards, right??

Well, yes and no. While yes, it’s very admirable to want to jumpstart your system into eating healthier, making too many changes overnight rarely works and isn’t realistic. Science reckons that it takes approximately 10-14 days for tastebud turnover, meaning that even a seven day juice cleanse wouldn’t be enough to make you crave more nutritious foods. In fact, my view is that juice cleansing could even make your cravings for junk food worse, given the ‘cold turkey’ approach, and the relatively short length of time it is carried out.

If you’re looking to kickstart a healthier lifestyle, the best way you can start is by learning new recipes and cooking meals at home. Add an extra portion of greens to every meal, or commit to trying a new fruit or veg every week. If you’re looking for an abrupt initiation, get all of the processed and packaged foods out of your house, go shopping, and flush your fridge and pantry with healthy, whole food ingredients, if that is so your choosing. But even this isn’t totally necessary. As with most lifestyle changes, slow and steady wins the race.

3. To heal a compromised gut

In some cases, a person might want to try a juice cleanse as a way to heal some digestive issues they may be having. Now I’m certainly not an expert in this area, so am not about to give out any specific advice. But I will say that how you choose to treat your gut issues all depends on the type and the extent of the symptoms you’re having.

For example, if somebody has simply been feeling a bit bloated and lethargic, they may wish to take on a juice cleanse for a few days as a way to give their intestinal tract a break, and to determine what exactly might be causing their digestive issues. After the cleanse, they can slowly re-introduce solid foods to identify their ‘triggers’.

Of course, however, a juice cleanse isn’t the only way to go about this and digestive issues are a lot more complex than just what we eat (stress and genetics also being major factors). A juice cleanse may be used to self-treat general feelings of ‘bleh-ness’, but the same goal can be achieved sticking to solid foods as well. More serious and/or recurrent digestive issues such as IBS should be diagnosed by a doctor and be treated in a more structured, methodical way. Another important thing to remember is that depriving your gut of fibre can do potentially more harm and make symptoms worse in some cases – which is why a juice cleanse still wouldn’t be the best port of call, IMO.

4. To recover from illness or disease

The great thing about fresh juices (that I talk more about below) is that they take all the nutrients, antioxidants and other goodness from lots of fruits and veggies, and condense them into an easy-to-drink, concentrated form. This makes them not just great for those with digestive issues (who may struggle to eat large amounts of fresh produce due to the fibre content), but also those suffering with a disease or illness that involves having gut issues or a reduced appetite.

Some illnesses, like stomach bugs or viruses, require the body to be in a fasting state in order to faciliate healing and faster recovery. It’s times like these that a juice cleanse would be perfect, as it ensures the body stays topped up with vitamins, minerals and fluids while also not having to work too hard to digest anything.

Juicing is also perfect for when you’re not feeling great and your appetite is at an all-time low. You may not feel like eating anything, but still want to nourish your body with all-important nutrients. Again, this would be a time when a juice ‘cleanse’ (even though you’re not really trying to ‘cleanse’ anything) could come in really handy.

5. To regain energy after a period of sluggishness

Some people wish to do a juice cleanse after they’ve experienced a period of sluggishness in their body. This could be due to being overworked and burnt out, or following an illness (like above), or perhaps they just haven’t been treating their body too kindly.

One of the touted benefits of a juice cleanse is that it helps the body to regain its natural energy levels by reducing load on the digestive system. That way, energy isn’t drained by processing foods that may be hard to digest, and the body can use its energy to heal itself instead. Many juice cleansers describe feeling tired and lethargic for the first day or two of their cleanse, only to feel bursting with vibrant energy later on.

Though regaining spent energy is fairly good reason for wanting to do a juice cleanse, my opinion on this is that once again, it’s not necessary. Time spent resting, sleeping, getting away from the screens and eating whole, unprocessed foods will achieve the same outcome – perhaps even more so – and will also enable you to sustain these habits going forward. Though a juice cleanse could bring the same feelings, it only lasts for a short time and could send you straight back into bad habits once it’s over.

Why I don’t do juice cleanses

The bottom line with juice cleansing is that it’s all about your ‘why’. Are you doing it because you’re hoping to drop a few pounds, or think it’s the only way to get healthy? Neither of these things require juice fasting to achieve, so you’ll likely be pretty disappointed.

If you feel like doing a short juice cleanse here and there really helps your health and enables you to stick to healthier eating the rest of the time, then kudos to you (you’re braver than I). Just remember to get the basics right in the rest of your diet first, and be vigilant about why you are doing it and the impact it has on you (both positive and negative).

I personally have never tried a juice cleanse, and don’t have any plans to either. I am a huge advocate of incorporating fresh juices into my regular diet (alongside solid food), but I don’t feel the need to limit my diet to just juice, mainly because I feel its really just not necessary.

Here’s a breakdown of why I don’t do juice cleanses.

1. Juicing doesn’t detox your body…your liver does!

Rule no. 1 to remember (with ANY detoxing product or trend) is that it’s your liver and kidneys doing the detoxing – nothing else. Yes, you can help the detoxing process along by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water. But fasting or cleansing is not needed to detoxify your body, because your body is ALWAYS detoxing.

On that note, its important to keep in mind that you don’t need to go on a juice cleanse or limit calories in order to stay healthy and rid your body of toxins. You can help your body by filling it up with whole, minimally processed, antioxidant-rich foods and drinking lots of water. And yes – fresh juices can be a part of that!

 

2. Juicing is still a form of calorie restriction

No matter how you look at it, juice cleanses are still a form of calorie restriction. Even if you aren’t actively counting calories, you’ll still be taking in much fewer calories than what your body requires, as it’s incredibly difficult to fill up on juice.

Temporarily reducing calories for a few days while you juice cleanse probably won’t have any huge detrimental impact on your health in the long term. But, it can put you at risk of wanting to consume more calories once the cleanse is over. It also means juice cleansing may be used as an unhealthy method of weight loss, or be a trigger to those with disordered eating patterns.

Studies have shown that after just a handful of days eating a calorie-restricted diet, participants’ resting energy expenditure drops significantly. This means that juice cleansing may not lead to any noticeable weight loss, as your body will likely adjust for the lowered number of calories, and it could even result in a drop in muscle mass. Better results could be achieved from maintaining normal calorie intake and doing weight bearing exercises to maintain or increase muscle mass.

 

3. Juicing removes friendly fibre from your food

As we talked about earlier, fibre is your friend. We should all be eating more fibre, not less – preferably from whole, plant-based foods.

Part of the way your gut stays healthy is by continuously moving fibre through the digestive tract. Along the way, matter binds together taking with it any harmful or unnecessary bacteria in your gut lining. This is why having a high fibre diet is one of the best ways to keep the gut working how it should.

Having the odd glass of fresh juice or refined food here and there isn’t going to disrupt the process in any way. But several days without fibre might – and you may experience tummy or toilet issues when doing a juice cleanse, even if the effects are temporary.

The only exception to this might be if you’re already suffering from gut issues and consuming fresh produce in its whole state is difficult for you. However, as with all instances concerning the gut, it’s best to consult a physician or specialist first before deciding whether consuming fresh juices would be ideal.

Why juice fruits & veggies at all? // Benefits of Juicing

Hopefully by this point I haven’t put too much of a negative spin on juicing, and you may even be asking: “Why juice fruits and veggies at all?”

The truth is, as touched on earlier, freshly pressed juices boast a whole host of benefits and can definitely be welcomed in as part of a healthy diet. Like smoothies, they can be enjoyed as a welcome beverage any time of day (though unlike smoothies, shouldn’t be used as an actual meal). Their nutrients can help you to feel vibrant and energised; boost your immune system, and have great benefits for the skin.

Here are some of the reasons I love to drink fresh juices.

1. It helps to increase the amount of veggies & fruit you consume

Struggling to chop up or munch on your full quota of veggies for the day? Drinking them in juice form can really help with that, particularly on busy days.

2. It can be helpful for those with digestive issues

As we’ve already talked about, juicing is great for those that may suffer from cramps or bloating when they eat a big raw salad. Drinking raw veggies in juice form would be much better here.

3. It’s convenient!

The convenience of drinking a juice means you can take them on the go, or enjoy them in meetings, on the bus and wherever else you are as an extra boost of nutrition.

4. It’s refreshing

Sometimes you just can’t beat a refreshing juice on a hot day! And rather than opt for your usual orange or apple juice, why not boost your refreshment with some greens and veggies?

5. It adds variety to your diet

Having produce in juice form is a great way to sneak in new vegetables you haven’t tried before, or ones you don’t really like, thus adding variety to your diet. For example, you might hate cucumber or broccoli, but don’t mind them so much when juiced with a few crisp apples or some sweet pineapple.

6. Helps to reduce food waste

For me this is a big one – I love to juice vegetables to cut down my food waste. All too often I’ve found a languishing bag of carrots or some beets sitting at the bottom of my veg crate, looking way past the ability to be used in a meal.

At that point, I’ll roughly peel them, wash them and toss them through the juicer, which is not only convenient, but also helps to extract as many nutrients as possible from a veg that would have otherwise gone to the compost.

Juicing 101: Things to consider

So hopefully by now you’re on board with the benefits of juicing, and are looking to try it yourself!

Here are some of my tips for getting the most nutrition (and flavour) out of your juice:

 

Juices should be raw and cold-pressed

Juices should always be raw and cold-pressed – pasteurised juice will have been gently heated so won’t contain as many nutrients. Juicing produce at home is always the best way, and fresh juice should be consumed as soon as possible.

 

Opt for slow-masticating over centrifugal

I recommend using a slow-masticating juicer over a centifugal. While they aren’t quite as fast (and are a little more expensive), they extract the juice in a way that preserves the nutrients and keep it from becoming oxidised. Juice obtained from a slow-masticating juicer can be kept in the fridge for up to three days, whereas centrifugal juicers require that you drink the juice immediately to keep it from going bad.

My friends over at Nutriciously have an awesome post on choosing the best juicer, which is great when you’re just starting out.

 

Go for more veggies than fruit

Fruit juices are great, but try to include at least 2-3 vegetables in your juices when starting out, in order to keep the sugar content lower (see below) and the nutrient content high.

 

“Aren’t fresh juices just full of sugar?”

A common argument you might hear against drinking fresh juices of any kind, is: “But what about the sugar content? Aren’t juices just full of concentrated sugar?”

Well, yes and no. Juicing fruit and veg does strip away that all-important fibre, which allows the natural sugars to be absorbed into the body very quickly and can potentially spike blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s important to get at least a balance of vegetables to fruit (as vegetables are lower in sugar than fruit). Ideally, try to stick to a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit. If you’re new to veggie juices, start lower and work your way up.

That said, cold-pressed juices that are on the fruitier side, and even made from 100% fruit, can’t be lumped into the same category as all the processed added sugar Brits and Americans are consuming. Sure, they may be lacking in fibre leading the sugar to be absorbed into the body rather quickly (not as ideal as having it slowly released into the bloodstream). But it’s important to remember that fresh juices also contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, whereas most refined sugar does not.

It’s like comparing orange juice to Coca Cola and saying they’re the “same”. Yes, both may be very high in sugar (the orange juice being 100% natual sugars), but they’re completely different in nutritional value. You can’t really say they’re doing the same thing to your body.

So long as you’re only drinking around 250ml-300ml of fresh juice a day, it’s not your main source of calories, and the rest of your diet contains very little refined sugar, then enjoying some freshly pressed fruit juice is absolutely NOT going to break some kind of’ ‘sugar budget’ you may have in mind.

Juicing made easy, with Wild Juice Co.

Sometimes life gets busy, and we don’t always have time to make our own juices from scratch. It’s at times like these when a straight-to-door juice delivery service like Wild Juice Co. really comes in handy.

Wild Juice Co. was kind enough to sponsor this post and also send me a batch of their freshly pressed juices to try out for myself. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty impressed! My juices arrived pre-frozen in sustainable packaging, after which I was able to simply transfer them to the freezer (and some to the fridge) ready for when I needed them.

Wild Co. Juice company

 

Freshly pressed, right on hand

The juices could not have come at a better time for me, as a recent house move meant that April was such a busy month. Knowing I had a pile of fresh veggie juices to hand anytime I needed helped me keep my energy levels up at a time when late nights and early mornings were a regular occurrence. It also made me feel less guilty about relying on takeaways and less nutritious food for those first couple of weeks, as there wasn’t an awful lot of time to cook.

My favourite of all the juices were the Merry Berry and Queen of Green. The latter flavour contains wheatgrass which normally I do not get along with, but having it blended up with the apple, pear, lettuce, celery and aloe vera made it go down so much better and I could barely taste it. I love how Wild get the ratio of fruit to veggies just right, as well as adding subtle combinations of superfoods, such as apple cider vinegar, turmeric, spirulina, goji berries and acai.

Organic produce, sustainable packaging

All of Wild’s juices are made from 100% organic produce, something which is pretty hard to come by in ready-made juice pack services. It can also be difficult to find enough organic produce to make juices of our own, in which case ordering your juices ready-made with organic produce could actually work out cheaper and more convenient. I also love that Wild’s juice bottles are all plastic-free and that their stickers, box liners and ice packs are all biodegradable! Considering Wild are still a relatively small company just starting out in the world of juice pack deliveries, they’ve certainly broke into the market with a bang.

Wild create three, five and seven-day juice packs (with the option of adding in CBD to your juices), as well as a 7-Day Boost Pack, which is perfect for topping up your antioxidants and nutrients throughout a busy week. I highly recommend the Boost Pack, as it’s the most economical of Wild’s packs and a great way to get in a fresh veggie juice daily. That said, while the rest of Wild’s juice packs are intended to be used for cleansing, there’s absolutely no reason why you couldn’t stash them in your freezer instead and simply enjoy one anytime, as you please!

25% off with code ADELE25

I’m really pleased to be able to offer you guys 25% off any of Wild’s organic juice packs with the code ADELE25. Whether you’re brand new to juicing or would simply love to experience the convenience of having fresh juices ready to go in your fridge/freezer, hopefully this makes it a little bit easier. 😉

If you do happen to try Wild Juice Co.’s juices for yourself, please be sure to drop me a comment and let me know how you found them!

To sum up…

I hope this post managed to clear up any questions you might have had about juice cleansing and juicing in general. If you happen to have any other questions about juicing, drop me a comment below or email me at hello@everythingspeachy.co.uk. I’ll be more than happy to answer them.

I also hope that you guys will continue to make smart choices when it comes to your health and well-being. If you’re able to, then incorporating a fresh juice here and there into your diet is a great thing. But ultimately, chewing your fruits and veggies is what matters most.

Join the Conversation

What do you guys think about drinking fresh juices – do you love them or hate them? And have you or would you ever try a juice cleanse? You can let me know your thoughts on Instagram – simply click the button below and leave a comment on my latest post.

I’m also reachable on Twitter and Facebook too – hit me up and let’s chat!

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