Monday, April 1, 2013

From Our SCAN Students: Do Our Bodies Really Need A Juice Detox?

Detoxing, juicing, cleansing, these seem to be the latest buzzwords.  If you belong to a gym, yoga studio, or other exercise group, you have likely heard these words once or one too many times.  Also, many gyms are even offering discounts on cleanses if you purchase them directly through them.  This raises a couple of questions – what exactly is this doing to the body?  Is this really healthy? Does this help shed pounds? How safe are these?

You’ve probably heard of some of the more popular examples of these detoxes and cleanses, which include the Blue Print Cleanse, The Master Cleanse, Organic Avenue, and Ritual Cleanse.

Let’s take a look at what these cleanses are actually doing to the body.  While upfront it looks like these cleanses are good for you, reducing toxins, triacylglycerol, and cholesterol levels, it’s been found that the levels return to their normal state once the body is back on solid foods.  While many individuals are jumping to these cleanses as a way to detox the body, it’s really unnecessary.  The body already naturally removes most toxins, that is the function of our colon, kidneys and liver. 

For those individuals looking to shed a few pounds, the juice cleanses may be a quick fix, but that is because most of what is lost is water weight.  These cleanses vastly reduce your caloric intake, so your body release glycogen for extra energy.  The glycogen then holds on to the water in your body, so when the glycogen is used, the water weight is lost.  When resuming a normal diet, the water weight returns to the body.

Is this harmful?  For a few days, no, you’re not going to do any major damage to the body.  However, over time juices and cleanses are depriving your body of calories and essential nutrients.  Calories are energy and the body needs this energy to function properly.  Reduced calories can also lead to loss of lean muscle mass if there is a significant reduction in protein.

And if this isn’t enough to make you want to keep eating actual food instead of liquid for your meals, these detoxes are not cheap.  They can run upwards of $100/day to drink your meals!

Laura Georgian, M.S., holds her Master of Science in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is currently a part time Dietetics student at the University of Northern Colorado, working towards her second Bachelors degree, expected December 2013.  She enjoys sweating every day, travel, and checking out new restaurants & wine bars.  An avid runner, she has two half-marathons under her belt and looking to add a third to the list!

Follow her on Twitter: @NJNutritionista