There’s nothing like a glass of juice to pep you up. It also counts as one of your Five-A-day. But can taking it further and following a juice fast help your body detox? The theory is that juicing offers an easily digestible injection of vitamins and minerals to nourish your body while giving it a break from the demands of digestion and aiding the elimination of toxins. But while packed with vitamins, juice is also loaded with sugar and bad for your teeth. So is more always better? Dr Schenker says: ‘Juice is usually packed with vitamins and minerals but the lack of protein, fat, fibre and complex carbohydrate is detrimental to the normal functioning of the body. This can leave you feeling tired, dizzy and nauseous.
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These symptoms are not a result of toxin expulsion, as is commonly reported. Some essential nutrients require help from other nutrients to be fully beneficial; for example, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins and, without fat, their absorption will be limited. Sugar in liquid form, when not attached to fibre such as fruit skin, is absorbed readily by the body, causing a blood-sugar spike which can leave you moody and hungry.
A few days’ juice diet will give rapid weight loss due to low calorie intake. But much of the initial weight loss is water weight. When no fuel from food is available, your body turns to muscle glycogen and, as levels deplete, the water in which it’s stored is lost. There is also a reduction in muscle mass. ‘Arguably, one benefit to a short-term juice detox is that it can help people break a cycle of unhealthy eating. There’s evidence that when returning to a normal calorie intake, you may be more mindful about food choices and feel fuller with less food.’
The verdict: ‘The liver and kidneys are the body’s organs responsible for excreting toxins. As long as they stay healthy, they’ll work normally every day without the need for “detox” juice. The lack of nutritional balance is one of the main reasons a juice fast is not considered a healthy choice – and the longer the juice fast, the worse the situation becomes. While there is no real harm in having a couple of juice days as a kickstart for a new period of healthy eating, be aware that you might not feel great, so pick a quiet weekend on which to do it!