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Juice Cleanse: The 5 Pros and 3 Myths of Juicing with Fruit and Vegetables

Juice cleanses. Are they really good for you or are they just the latest health fad? An online search brings up a lot of conflicting information from industry and health professionals alike.

We’d like to shed some light on this interesting topic and help people understand the benefits of juice cleansing.A juice cleanse is normally for a maximum of 10 days. This short period of time doesn’t qualify it to count as a dietary change.

In this article, we explore the benefits of juice fasting. We also look into 3 of the most common myths about juice cleanses.

Juice cleanses a new fad or a good health move? Juice fasting has some great benefits for your health - improving cardiovascular health and blood pressure, for a start!

Pro 1: Juices are Packed with Micronutrients

Micronutrients are essential nutrients for our bodies. They are especially involved in enzyme function, development, immune function, and overall well-being.

Micronutrients include certain chemical elements and vitamins. Vitamin A, iodine, folate, and zinc, are considered to be among the most important micronutrients – and the most prevalent in deficiencies. [1]

In fact, it is estimated that at least half of the children around the world aged 6 months to 5 years suffer from a micronutrient deficiency, and over 2 billion people around the world are affected by micronutrient deficiencies in some way. [2]

 

According to the latest research, iron deficiency is the most common form of micronutrient deficiency in the world. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, decreased focus, and reduced immune and endocrine functions. Iodine and zinc deficiencies are also common, leading to goiter, reduced cognitive function, and increased diarrhea and respiratory diseases in children. [3]

In the US, around 10% of people suffer from vitamin B6 deficiency, and around 10% of women have an iron deficiency (according to the CDC). [4]

You can’t get too many micronutrients, and they’re so good for you! That’s why doctors and scientists recommended boosting up on them as much as possible.

 

Pro 2: You Get More Nutrients by Juicing Than by Eating Raw Vegetables/Fruits

While we all like to think that we ‘eat healthy’ or at least try to eat healthily, the simple fact is that most of us do not get enough fruit and vegetables in our diets. The latest recommendation by the Imperial College of London is to eat 10 servings of fruit or vegetables a day. [5]

In fact, it is now recommended to consume at least 800grams of fruits and vegetables every single day! Roughly:

kiwi fruit isolated on white background for health benefits Kiki fruit are great sources of antioxidant phytochemical
  • 2 Kiwi fruit
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • ½ a grapefruit
  • 8 florets of cauliflower
  • 1 glass of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of peas
  • 2 broccoli spears
  • 1 whole tomato
  • 1 banana [6]

 

In fact, the authors of the study had some pretty strong advice. According to their results, which included data on over 2 million people from all around the world, as many as 7.8 million deaths could be prevented by consuming 800grams of fruit and vegetables per day. The results showed that, while 5 servings a day are good, 10 servings are far better!

The results showed that people who ate up to 10 servings (800grams) of fruits and vegetables a day had statistics like:

healthy food on table with stethoscope Fruits and vegetables are a good source of well-being
  • A 24% lower risk of heart disease
  • A 33% reduced risk of stroke
  • A 28% lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease
  • A 13% reduction in total cancer
  • A 31% lower chance of dying from any cause [7]

 

Of course, eating that many fruits and vegetables a day is not only difficult but borderline impossible for some people! This is where juicing comes in. You can quite easily get all the 10 servings of fruits and vegetables into two juices through the day. The result is a concentrated green elixir of life.

 

Pro 3: On a Juice Cleanse You’ll Avoid Bad Fat

Pro number 3 – what a great point! Fruits and vegetables are completely void of fat. Well, almost. Some fruits like avocados are actually pretty high in omega-3 oils, which are technically fats.

We can quickly gain a very basic understand of the nature of fats and we’ll understand that any fat from fruits and vegetables is good fat!

 

‘Bad fats’

  • Trans-fats are man-made and have been chemically altered through a process called hydrogenation. These are found in processed foods and are linked to numerous diseases. [8] 
  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and include butter, cheese, and animal fat. Again, saturated fats have been linked to diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. [9]

 

‘Good fats’

  • Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. Studies have shown that these fats have the potential to lower your LDL cholesterol. [10] 
  • Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Omega-3s are especially important for health and are found in flax seeds, avocados, and olive oil. Omega-3 fats improve your wellbeing and help to prevent disease. [11]

 

That being said, most fruits and vegetables contain barely any fat whatsoever. So if you’re looking to lose weight, a juice cleanse is a great option.

The CDC has released a nutritional facts sheet for fruits and vegetables that they’d like supermarkets to show on the products. According to the fact sheet, the only fruit with any fat content is the avocado and the only vegetable with any fat content is sweet corn. [12]

sources of omega 3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, avocado, oil capsules and flaxseed oil These are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids: avocados, flax seeds, and hemp seed oil

Pro 4: Fasting has Numerous Health Benefits

"Everyone has a doctor in him; we just have to help him in his work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. ...to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness." – Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine. [13]

Fasting has been used as a healing technique for thousands of years. In fact, if you consider the animal kingdom, no animals eat when they are sick. So, it might even be safe to say that the practice of fasting for health has been going along for millions of years!

Therapeutic fasting has been used for centuries. Despite the age-old knowledge of the power of fasting in healing, we are not given much information about this from our current medical system. That being said, it’s hard to find a place for fasting in a profit-based pharmaceutical system. Simply put, you can’t make much money from people who aren’t eating anything.

However, modern research shows that fasting has a wide range of benefits. Scientists have found, for example, that therapeutic fasting helps with:

 

Indian monk sadhu on a juice cleanse The benefits of fasting have been known for thousands of years
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic pain diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Improves chemotherapy
  • Decreasing aging effects
  • Antioxidant effects [14]

 

In a famous study from 2014, researchers showed that fasting for 48-120 hours actually triggers your immune system to regenerate itself. Results showed that fasting for a few days prevented immune system damage and induced immune system cells to regenerate! [15]

The benefits of fasting are so powerful that we can barely even touch on them in this short article. Fasting means refraining from eating food. A juice cleanse definitely counts as a fast – but you get the added benefits of micronutrients.

Pro 5: Juicing is a Great Way to Lose Weight and Gain Health

Let’s face it, fasting for two days isn’t going to get you to lose any weight. Push it to ten days and you might be looking at some weight loss. Get to 40 days and you’re on a roll!

The documentary film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead follows Australian man Joe Cross as he travels around America on a 60-day juice cleanse. Following the fast and adopting a vegan diet, Joe manages to lose 100 pounds and quit the medication he was taking for an obesity-related autoimmune disease. [16]

The main way that juicing can help you lose weight is actually through the after-effects of the cleanse. Doing a 5-day ‘detox’ with a juice cleanse is great. But if you go straight back to the negative dietary habits that you had before, it’s a little pointless.

 

A juice cleanse can be thought of as taking a plunge into the deep end. You’re not slowly changing your diet - you’re jumping right in by quitting all food and getting an extremely high dosage of micronutrients to kick-start your immune system.

However, this is just the beginning. Once you’ve completed the cleanse it may be easier to transition to a healthy diet because well, if you can stop eating altogether for a few days, you’ve already proven to yourself that you’ve got what it takes to make fundamental changes to your diet.

A lot of problems stem from our attachment to the foods that we eat. You often hear people saying things like, “I’m a steak guy”, or “I’m really into my [unhealthy food name]”. By forming personal attachments to certain food groups, we find it far more difficult to wean ourselves off them, even when we know that our health is at risk. [17]

Fruit and berry juice: a great antioxidant for weight loss A juice cleanse is a great way to kick-start a healthier diet and a better you!

Myth 1: Fresh Juices Aren’t Healthy - They’re High in Sugar

Yes, juices are high in sugar. Fruits have a high sugar content – hence their sweet flavor. Juicing fruits means that you get all the nutrients in liquid form, including the sugar.

But before we condemn juice cleansing as being an overdose of sugar, it’s important to understand that – like fats – there are different type of sugars.

The sugar that is found in fruit is called unrefined sugar. Sugars that are found in most processed foods and are used in cooking are called refined or extracted sugars. These have gone through processing techniques and are more nutrient-rich and less healthy than unrefined sugars. [18]

 

There are many different types of refined sugar Refined sugar is used in cooking and is added to sodas and processed foods as corn syrup

Scientists believe that our desire to eat sweet foods comes from our body’s need for fruits. It is no wonder that the foods that taste so nice and sweet are the foods that we need the most of – fruits and vegetables. If the sugar in fruits was so bad, then why would doctors now recommend consuming at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day? [19]

The sugar that is found naturally in fruits and vegetables is completely healthy and does not have negative effects on your body. [20]

Furthermore, when creating a fruit/vegetable juicing recipe, it is important to have a good mix of fruits (relatively high in sugar) and vegetables (relatively low in sugar). This, along with added water, dilutes the natural sugar in the drink and prevents the possibility of putting additional pressure on your liver.

 

Finally, many of the diseases and health concerns that are linked to sugary foods are not actually a result of the sugar content. Sugary foods tend to be high in fat, processed carbohydrates, and preservatives. The sugar ‘lures you in’, but the real issue is the high-fat content of ‘sweet-foods’. [21]

 

Myth 2: Juicing Removes the Fiber

 

Dietary fiber is an important part of your food. Fiber is also known as ‘roughage’ and is not absorbed in your intestines. Instead, fiber passes through your gut and helps to prevent and relieve constipation.

There are two main types of fiber:

Green juice, high in soluble fiber for a healthy juice cleanse Green juices and juices with citrus fruits are great sources of soluble fiber

Soluble fiber: Soluble in water, helps to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Found in oats, peas, apples, nuts, beans, lentils, and citrus fruits.

Insoluble fiber: Insoluble in water, adds bulk to stool and helps food pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Found in whole grains, vegetables, and wheat bran. [22]

It’s true that juicing removes most of the insoluble fiber from the fruits and vegetables. However, the soluble fiber remains.

Most people who do a juice cleanse do not report experiencing constipation during that time. Some do report less frequent stool, but this could also be tied to the fact that they’re not eating anything. [23]

Importantly, around 75% of your feces is actually just water. So make sure to get enough water if you’re doing a juice cleanse. [24]

Chia seeds are high in fiber Chia seeds are a good source of extra insoluble fiber on a juice fast

If you are very concerned about fiber intake during a juice cleanse it is recommended that you eat some chia seeds or psyllium husks during the cleanse. These will not affect the outcome of the fast but will add some insoluble fiber to your nutrient intake.

Once you’ve finished the cleanse and are back on food, you can continue to make fresh juices with high nutrient concentrations. You can also utilize the insoluble fiber-rich pulp that remains in your juicer. Pulp can be added to soups, smoothies, muffins, vegetarian burger patties, and many more recipes!

 

Myth 3: Juicing has No Scientifically Verified Benefits

 

Juicing certainly does have scientifically verified benefits. However, it is recommended to talk to your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions before starting a juice cleanse. This is especially true for older women with thyroid issues.

A 2003 study found that 8 days of juice fasting resulted in significant decreases in free cholesterol, triglycerides, very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), insulin, and C-Peptide. The study involved 5 healthy men who continued their exercise programs as usual over the 8-day period. [25]

A 2010 study found that adding 1-2 cups of vegetable juice to your diet is a healthy and effective way to increase your phytonutrient and micronutrient intake. 162 people took part in the study, and almost all of them had below-par micronutrient intake before the study began.

Interestingly, the results showed that people who had normal blood pressure before the study began had no significant changes. On the other hand, people with high blood pressure showed a significant drop in blood pressure over the 12-week study. [26]

 

There is definitely a need for more research and more studies to examine the benefits of doing juice fasts.

However, the benefits of fasting have been verified, as have the benefits of adding concentrated fruit and vegetable juice to your diet. So now there is just a need for more scientists to do more research bridging the two!

Woman standing in her kitchen preparing healthy apple juice Scientists are finding increasing data on the health benefits of juice cleansing

Adding Supplements to Your Juices

One great way to boost the phytochemical content of a juice cleanse is to add water-soluble supplements to your juices.

Here are six great supplements to add to your fruit/vegetable juices:

  1. Green Tea Extract: Super high in polyphenols and catechins like EGCG, Green Tea Extract is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and health-promoting supplement that can be added to a juice. [27]
  1. Quercetin: Quercetin is a powerful polyphenol with potent anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have also shown that Quercetin has the potential to boost cardiovascular health and prevent to lower LDL cholesterol. [28]
  1. Baicalin: An extract from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbs, baicalin is a relaxing compound with anti-stress effects. It is also used in research for numerous potential benefits including anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral effects. [29]
  1. Taurine: Taurine is an essential nutrient and a highly functional amino acid. It has a major role in the proper functioning of your central nervous system (CNS) and helps to improve focus, reduce anxiety, and increase libido. [30]
  1. Choline Bitartrate: Choline is another essential nutrient that is vital for the wellbeing of your mind and body. Choline has beneficial effects on memory and attention and is used by some people as a Nootropic. It has also been researched for its potential to reduce the risk of developing numerous diseases. [31]
  1. Hemp/Flax Seed Oil: Hemp oil or flax seed oil are great supplements to boost your Omega-3 intake. Although oils are not water soluble, you can add a teaspoon of the oil to your juice cleanse to increase your ‘good fat’ intake and help stimulate your immune system. [32]

Conclusion: How to Juice Cleanse

Juice cleansing is a combination of fasting and drinking nutrient-packed fruit and vegetable extracts. Most juice cleanses last around 3 days; some go on for much longer. Juice cleanses are a great way to kick-start healthy eating habits and boost your micronutrient levels.

Micronutrients are essential for your health and wellbeing and include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Anybody can go on a juice cleanse and the benefits of fasting have been known for millennia.

Drinking fruit or vegetable juice is healthy and has scientifically verified benefits, especially on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Many phytonutrients also act as potent antioxidants. Importantly, recent studies have shown that a 2-4-day fast can literally reset your immune system.

You can also add a number of dietary supplements to your juice cleanse. Take a look through our catalog of dietary supplements to find ones that suit your needs most.

juices on a table, ready for juice cleanse Juice cleansing is a relatively new form of fasting that boosts your micronutrient intake

References:

[1]Micronutrient Facts”, CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available online, accessed May 4, 2017

[2]United Call to Action Report”, UnitedCalltoAction.org – Call to Action on micronutrient deficiencies, available online, accessed May 4, 2017

[3] RL Bailey et al., “The epidemiology of global micronutrient deficiencies”, Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;66 Suppl 2:22-33

[4]CDC’s Second Nutrition Report: A comprehensive biochemical assessment of the

nutrition status of the U.S. population”, CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available online, accessed May 4, 2017

[5]Eating more fruits and vegetables may prevent millions of premature deaths”, by Kate Wighton, Imperial College London, published online, accessed May 4, 2017

[6]Forget five a day, eat 10 portions of fruit and veg to cut risk of early death”, by Sarah Bosely, the Guardian Online, 23 Feb 2017

[7] D Aune et al., “Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies”, Int J Epidemiol 2017 dyw319. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw319

[8] MP Iqbal, “Trans fatty acids – A risk factor for cardiovascular disease”, Pak J Med Sci. 2014 Jan-Feb; 30(1): 194–197.

[9] Wang DD, Li Y, Chiuve SE, et al., “Association of Specific Dietary Fats With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality”. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online July 5 2016

[10]The 6 Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)”, BodyEcology.com, accessed on May 4, 2017

[11]The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids”, WebMD.com, accessed on May 4, 2017

[12]Nutrition Information for Raw Fruits, Vegetables, and Fish”, Downloadable/Printable posters, US Food and Drug Administration online, accessed May 4, 2017

[13]Fasting Quotes”, AllAboutFasting.com, retrieved May 4, 2017

[14] Michalsen A, Li C. “Fasting therapy for treating and preventing disease - current state of evidence”, Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(6):444-53.

[15] Cheng, Chia-Wei et al. “Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic Stem Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression.” Cell stem cell 14.6 (2014): 810–823. PMC.

[16]Press Kit”, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead film, available online, retrieved May 4, 2017

[17] W Van Daele, “Desiring foods: Cultivating non-attachment to nourishment in Buddhist Sri Lanka”, Appetite. 2016 Oct 1;105:212-7.

[18]Natural vs. refined sugars: What’s the difference?”, CTCA, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, July 30, 2014

[19]Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects”, by Adam Drewnowski and Eva Almiron-Roig, Chapter 11: Human Perceptions and Preferences for Fat-Rich Foods, Montmayeur JP, le Coutre J, editors. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2010.

[20] JL Sievenpiper et al., “Sugar: fruit fructose is still healthy”, Nature. 2012 Feb 22;482(7386):470

[21] NM Avena et al., “Sugar and Fat Bingeing Have Notable Differences in Addictive-like Behavior”, J Nutr. 2009 Mar; 139(3): 623–628.

[22]Soluble vs. insoluble fiber”, Emily Wax, RD, MedLine Plus, US National Library of Medicine, 14 August 2016

[23]The Facts on Fiber & Juice”, by Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND, Reboot With Joe, available online, accessed May 4, 2017

[24]Feces”, Encylopedia Britannica, available online, retrieved May 4, 2017

[25] R Huber et al., “Effects of one week juice fasting on lipid metabolism: a cohort study in healthy subjects”, Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Feb;10(1):7-10.

[26] SF Shenoy et al., “The use of a commercial vegetable juice as a practical means to increase vegetable intake: a randomized controlled trial”, Nutr J. 2010; 9: 38.

[27] SM Chacko et al., “Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review”, Chin Med. 2010; 5: 13.

[28] L Yao et al., “Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity”, Nutrients. 2016 Mar; 8(3): 167.

[29] NR Srinivas, “Baicalin, an emerging multi-therapeutic agent: pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and considerations from drug development perspectives”, Xenobiotica. 2010 May;40(5):357-67.

[30] YJ Xu et al., “The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease”, Exp Clin Cardiol. 2008 Summer; 13(2): 57–65.

[31] SH Ziesel, KA da Costa, “Choline: an essential nutrient for public health”, Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):615-23.

[32] US Schwab et al., “Effects of hempseed and flaxseed oils on the profile of serum lipids, serum total and lipoprotein lipid concentrations and haemostatic factors”, Eur J Nutr. 2006 Dec;45(8):470-7. Epub 2006 Nov 10.