Here's What Juice Cleanses Really Do To Your Body

July 22nd 2015

Laura Donovan

Juice cleanses are often presented as a quick way to slim down and clean out one's digestive tract. People who do juice cleanses consume only fresh vegetables, raw fruits, and fresh juices for several days or weeks in order to reset the digestive system and potentially lose weight. Popular juice cleanse recipes include kale, apples and other fruits with antioxidants. Many proponents argue the liver, kidneys, and colon can't filter out all the bad things we put into our bodies due to certain habits people have adapted overtime, so they turn to juicing to fully flush out their systems and beyond. Juicing enthusiasts also say cleansing is good for the body, which needs a break from digesting processed and unhealthy foods.

"A juice cleanse will help you to lose water weight and in some cases actual pounds," nutritionists Shaun and Sarah Grant of Healthy Eatery said in a joint statement to ATTN:. "I recommend doing a cleanse with juices, smoothies and light foods that are easy to digest. So that you can reap the benefits and give your organs a chance to rest from digesting heavy foods."

Do cleanses help get rid of toxins?

Juice cleanse proponents argue the colon, liver, and kidneys cannot filter out all of our toxins anymore because of so many changes to the American diet. Last year, physician Mark Hyman told the Wall Street Journal that the abundance of people with liver disease, obesity, and other metabolic diseases show our bodies can become overwhelmed by certain eating habits.

"We are eating pharmaceutical doses of sugar and flour," he said.

The Grants echoed a similar sentiment in their statement to ATTN:.

"Doing a cleanse will help to clean out the toxicity in your body. Your colon, kidneys and liver do need a rest from processed foods, junk foods and cooked foods and I recommend doing a liquid cleanse with light healthy foods at least once a year to even one every three months depending on your lifestyle. The juice cleanse aids the natural filtering system of the kidney, liver and colon. Thus helping your organs to work more effectively."

Liz Applegate, the director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis, holds a different view. She told Live Science last year that the body can purge toxins without assistance of a juice cleanse, "The body does not need any help in getting rid of toxins."

Of course, the cleansing experience can be different for everyone, particularly those with certain conditions. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or a sensitive stomach in general, you might be especially affected by a cleanse, according to Applegate. Some people experience an increase in bowel movements while others see a decrease.

"Be prepared for changes in bowel function and frequent bathroom visits," Applegate said.

How does weight loss on a juice cleanse work?

Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a nutritionist and award-winning periodontist, told ATTN: that a person might actually put on weight from juice cleanses as a result of sugar consumption, "Although millions of people believe [cleanses can make you lose weihgt], there's no evidence in the medical journals to show that juicing will help you lose weight. Furthermore, a lot of people tend to drink juice from beets, carrots, and apples, which are all high in sugar. Drinking this on an empty stomach can create sugar spikes in the bloodstream and one can gain weight from juicing instead of losing weight. Green juice from plants and veggies however, is alkalinizing and mineralizing."

New York City-based nutritionist Marissa Lippert told RealSimple that if you do lose weight on a cleanse, it's probably all water weight. The body needs lots of water to properly digest foods, so when you cut out foods, the water you consume leaves the body as well. Once you begin eating regularly again, however, the water weight can return and bring you back to square one.

Because juice cleanses are so intense and strict, many people may choose to reward themselves with sugary foods afterwards, "making it easy to spiral back into not-so-great eating habits once you complete it," Lippert said.

New York City-based gastroenterologist Christine A. Frissora seemed to mirror Lippert's perspective, telling the publication that “a special three-day cleanse won’t magically improve your body’s natural waste-removal system.”

Nearly a decade ago, singer Beyonce Knowles said it wasn't worth it for her to go on a liquid diet in preparation for her role in the film "Dreamgirls." Though she shed 20 pounds, she said she wouldn't recommend it to people who are not preparing for a movie role.

"But I [needed] to lose it really quick, and I put the weight back on as soon as I finished, so I am no smaller or bigger than I've always been," she said. "It was strictly for the movie. The funniest part was putting the weight back on and eating my doughnuts and all the other things. So now I'm back to my body. I'm very conscious of being a curvy woman and I'm very happy that I am a curvy woman."

Developing healthy habits all around

While juice cleanses can help clean out your system, there are other ways to do similar good for your body.

"I believe that eating whole fruits and vegetables will clean out the system much better than juicing, due to the cleaning action of the fiber against the intestinal walls," Dr. Moldovan told ATTN: "Something else to consider is the level of oxalates in some of the juices, such as collard greens, beets and kiwi. If someone has chronic kidney disease, they should avoid juicing, as oxalates are toxic to the body."

The Grants also noted the importance of maintaining a healthy diet.

"The other option is to incorporate the benefits of juicing and drinking smoothies into your daily life so you can reap the long-term benefits," the Grants said. "Making it a daily habit is a healthy choice and increases your energy."


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"For lasting results, your best bet is to eat a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein," registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky said on the Mayo Clinic website. "If you do choose to do a detox diet, you may want to use it as a way to jump-start making healthier food choices going forward every day."