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Juice Cleanse: How It Works

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What is juice cleanse

A juice cleanse is a special diet comprising of only juices extracted from vegetables and fruits, for periods ranging from 24 hours to 10 days. Sometimes called juice fast, this diet is adopted with an aim to lose weight and for overall body detoxification. Currently different variations of juice cleanse exist, including fresh homemade juice, made of fresh fruits and vegetables; ready-to-consume store bought juices. Some people include one or two smoothies in their daily juicing diet to get some energy from protein, fat and nutrients.

Benefits and Risks

The juice cleanse diet, like any other diet has several benefits and a few risks.

Benefits

Juice fasting is about intake of only juices. Fruits and vegetable are packed with multiple vitamins and minerals. During a juice cleanse the body is flooded with healthy nutrients, which boost energy, strengthen immune system and improve overall health. Vegetables and fruits are rich in enzymes that are good for digestive health. Adopting a juice diet, especially of vegetables, for a reasonable number of days will improve gut health. It has the added benefit of weight loss. Juice diet may also remove toxins from the body.

Risks

Living only on raw juices, even with health benefits, is not sustainable in the long run. The gains are temporary and may cause several health risks. Some juicing ingredients like leafy greens and beets are rich in oxalate that may cause kidney stones and other diseases. People with diabetes and hypoglycemia may have health problems due to fluctuating sugar levels. They may experience side effects like dizziness, headache and weakness. Drinking raw juice may cause bacterial infection in people suffering from chronic illnesses, the elderly and children.

How it works?

A juice diet is a change from normal diet and the body needs to be initiated to it gradually, to avoid any shock. Prepare your body by gradually eliminating food items like coffee, dairy products, refined sugar, wheat, meat and alcohol to reduce withdrawal symptoms like headaches and strong cravings. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables and water in your diet, a few days before the actual juice cleanse.

Here are three steps to juice cleanse your body

  1. Set a goal

Clearly outline your reason for the juice cleanse. People take up juice fasting for varied reasons, including weight loss, curbing cravings for sugar and to improve digestive health. Set a realistic goal based on current eating habit. 

  • During the juice cleanse

How much juice? – Aim to drink at least 6 glasses (16 ounce each) of juice in a day. This adds up to a glass of juice after every 2 hours, from 6 am to 8 pm. You can increase the glasses of juice per day, based on your energy requirement. Sip on herbal teas and water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Let veggies dominate – Vegetable juice should be the dominant intake during the juice cleanse. Aim for close to 80% vegetable juice and the rest can be fruit juice. Juice up vegetables like celery spinach, kale, cabbage, cucumber, zucchini, carrots and beets. Apple, pineapple, peaches, orange, lemon, limes, blackberries, raspberries and cherries are great for preparing fresh fruit juices. Include herbs like mint, parsley or basil for enhanced flavor.

Add smoothies – Include one or more glass of smoothies to the juice cleanse to avoid hunger pangs and depletion of energy. Smoothies made of fruits and vegetables, including banana, avocados, carrot, peaches or apricots provide energy and keep hunger cravings in control. Vegetable broth, cashew milk and almond milk are good solid intake during juice fasting. Incorporate water in between juices or smoothies to promote excretion.

Ideal number of days – Three days of juice fasting is ideal to get optimum benefit from this diet. Continuing with juice fasting beyond three days may lead to negative effects like headaches, blood sugar fluctuation, fatigue and low energy.

Avoid strenuous physical exercise – The juice cleansing diet excludes proteins, fats and other nutrition, which are vital for providing energy to body. Any strenuous activities like physical exercises and workouts may cause dizziness and fatigue. Normal physical activities like walking is good as it supports the circulatory system.

  • After the juice cleanse

Once you end the juice cleanse, eat light for a few days to help body’s digestive system to get used to solid food. Gradually reintroduce the normal food into the daily diet.

People who should avoid juice cleanse

Juice cleanse is not for everyone. Certain groups of people – including children, adolescents, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers – cannot participate in this diet as they have specific nutritional requirements. Athletes need high energy and ample protein for quick muscle recovery. So, elite sportspersons should avoid a juice cleanse diet as it would deprive them of the much-needed high calories. Additionally, people with health conditions like kidney disease, diabetes and liver problems should not venture into any sort of juice cleanse program.

Juice cleansing is helpful if practised in short durations of three days at a time, only once a month. It’s a delicious way to boost nutrition, strengthen immunity, lose weight and detoxify the body. And, like all good things, it should be practiced in moderation to optimize the benefits.

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