A Healthier U(SC)

Trending - Juice Cleanses

By Heather Holtschlag

We have gone from eating our fruits and vegetables to now drinking them. Literally.

Juice cleanses have risen in popularity in recent months. They are convenient and easy. And, they can be tailored to meet the needs and goals of nearly anyone, whether it’s weight loss, a body “reset,” or giving the digestive system a chance to rest and recover after eating a normal diet for an extended amount of time.

But, what are juice cleanses? And, are they good for us? “A juice cleanse is when you consume only juices from vegetables and fruits,” explained April Jackson, Upper St. Clair resident, general manager of Mecka Fitness and CrossFit Mt. Lebanon, HSN Nutrition Coach, and Primal Health Coach. “Typically, a juicer is used to extract the juice from vegetables and fruit. Sometimes, people blend the foods in a very powerful type of mixer and drink that, too.”

According to April, juice cleanses can be a good thing, especially given that we can gain a lot of vegetables and fruits in our daily diet when juicing it. “Often, people do not incorporate enough vegetables and fruits into their diets, even when eating them as a whole. Therefore, juicing helps people get enough of these types of healthy foods in their diet.”

April noted that one of the primary purposes of juicing is to acquire more proper nutrients and vitamins that we often lack in our diet. In addition, juicing offers an opportunity for the body to “rest” from having to process so many foods, especially those that are overly processed and laden with chemicals.

Often, when people participate in a juice cleanse, they are advised to drink a number of juices throughout the day, in a specific order, to satisfy the needs of the body at given times of the day.

“When a juice cleanse is ‘prescribed,’ it is to support digestion and provide the right nutrients through a timed method,” April explained. “Typically, more carbs are needed in the morning, so you will likely have a fruit juice. Adding proteins with a nut milk in the late morning and afternoon will help sustain you throughout the day, and a light, green type of juice in the evening will top off the day.”

To cleanse or not to cleanse is obviously a personal decision, as is the decision on how often to cleanse. According to April, there is no one right answer. “Some people juice once a week, others do it once a month or even once a quarter,” she said. “I would suggest that those who juice take it easy with exercise and exertion during juice cleansing, mainly due to the lack of caloric intake. Therefore, it’s important for your body to rest while juicing.”

Perhaps, the biggest drawback with juice cleansing is what you miss out on, beyond just eating a normal diet, during the duration of the cleanse. April noted that during a juice cleanse, our bodies miss out on some things nutritionally, for instance. “When you eat fruits and vegetables, you take in a lot of fiber, and that is missed when juicing,” she said. “Juicing removes the fiber that aids in digestion and is nutrient rich. Juicing is also usually heavy in carbohydrates. All human beings need macronutrients, carbs, fats, and proteins. Juicing is more carb heavy because you usually only juice fruits and vegetables. Adding a nut milk can help, but you still do not get all your macros in, which is why juicing should be limited in frequency. I also recommend that people drink plenty of water in between juices while cleansing to avoid becoming dehydrated.”

However, April noted that juicing may be especially beneficial for those who do not normally eat a well-balanced diet, as juicing can add nutrients and vitamins that they may not ordinarily get. She also believes that we should allow our bodies time to reset, especially if we consume a lot of processed foods.

“Society keeps us so busy that we often do not take the time to think about what we eat,” April noted. “Juicing can help us be more mindful about refueling the body, restoring lost nutrients, and resetting.”

Of course, nothing beats eating fresh, organic, whole fruits and vegetables. But, April also believes that it is good to juice even if we do eat a well-balanced diet. “When we get sick and cannot eat, we drink to help the body heal. That is what juicing does for us, as well. It gives us what we need to heal.” 

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