What began as the master cleanse—considered quite dangerous by many doctors because of its no solid food requirement—a decade ago has evolved into a healthier and sound detox regimen in the form of blended fruit and vegetable drinks, now very popular in the mainstream market. Most programs run between three to 10 days, with the promise of ending erratic, unhealthy eating, rebooting and resetting the metabolism, and the most attractive of all, weight loss.
It’s important to “drink moderately” as much as you eat responsibly. One can’t rely solely on juices for prolonged periods as juicing takes away the fiber in fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps regulate the release of sugar into the bloodstream, aside from helping to flush out cholesterol from the body and regulating bowel movement. Then there’s also the risk of nutrient deficiency. Sure, the juices come from fruits and vegetables, and they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. But the body doesn’t derive its fuel from vitamins and minerals alone. That comes from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And when one doesn’t consume enough macronutrients, the body starves, thus making way for eating disorders. You have to be prepared for minimal side effects at the beginning of a cleanse. “Not everyone responds to it in the same way,” says nutritionist Nadine Tengco. “Some experience heightened energy levels, a feeling of lightness, and a clarity of mind and emotions. Others experience fatigue, aches and pains, emotional duress, headaches, or cold and flu-like symptoms. These reactions are sometimes called healing crises, which are caused by temporary increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. All these may be more pronounced if you typically eat a diet high in processed foods. These symptoms are not serious and will quickly pass.”
As "juicing" is meant to be a cleansing program, only a day or two of not consuming solid food and relying solely on liquids is recommended. Cleanses come in many methods. It’s perfectly fine to cherry-pick from different plans with the help of a doctor or a nutritionist to determine the perfect plan for you.
JUICE FASTS: Q&A WITH AN EXPERT
How healthy are they? Nutritionist Ara Jungco gives us the lowdown.
What are the important considerations before undergoing a juice cleanse?
Consult a doctor to find out if it’s safe for your health condition to detox. You should also consider your daily activities. A juice cleanse may be very low in calories, the body’s fuel, so if you don’t have enough, you won’t be able to do your regular activities. You might want to schedule doing your juice cleanse on days when you don’t exercise or won’t have much to do. You’ll also be making a lot of trips to the bathroom.
Does it work for weight loss?
The weight that you will be losing if you do it for one to three days may be merely water weight. Instead of using it as a quick fix for weight loss, you can use the juice cleanse as your prep to a healthier diet.
What happens when you detox longer than required?
Prolonged cleanses cause you to lose lean muscle mass instead of fat, which in turn causes your metabolism to slow down. Once your metabolism slows down, it will be harder for you to lose weight.
What are its hidden dangers?
lt may cause spikes in your blood sugar. For diabetics, it may cause their blood sugar level to shoot up and drop down suddenly. Fruits naturally have sugar, and when it is juiced, it gets absorbed straight into the bloodstream. The frequent trips to the bathroom can also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Yes, you may be taking in fluids, but these fluids just pass through you. So the electrolyte levels in your body aren’t maintained in the right amounts. You also upset your natural gut flora, or the amount of good bacteria that aids in digestion.
How do we make sure we “drink responsibly?”
Apart from that, I suggest that we all eat responsibly and moderately. You detox and you believe that you did your body some good. What’s next? If you don’t change your old habits, then the cleanse you just did was just for your guilt. But if you do the cleanse for a day or two and change your diet after, then your body will thank you for it.