Many readers know the intrinsic health value of body cleanses. But not all types of cleanses are for everyone. In fact, many of them — especially juice-only cleanses — can often lead to much stress, both nutritionally and emotionally. The good news is that cleanses don’t have to be horrific experiences that test the limits of your physical and mental endurance.
Juice cleanses remain a popular way to detoxify your body, lose unwanted pounds and guard against disease. But as experts note, “juicing” can lead to a host of unpleasantness. Natural Health magazine calls this the Seven Dwarves of Cleansing: Dizzy, Cranky, Weak, Starving, Bored, Poopy and Social Outcast.
“Health experts are rarely fans, mostly due to the juices’ inadequate calorie contents; lack of satiating protein, fat and fiber; and soaring candybar-esque sugar levels,” the magazine said.
“We live in a day, age, and culture in which extremes are somehow seen as the only effective solutions,” said Erika Herman, a board-certified nutritionist and author of the book Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess.
“I’ll level with you: you don’t need to blow out your colon for days on end if you already go to the bathroom every day, and eat right,” she told Natural News, adding that the body’s already got a built-in detox system. She suggests forgoing processed foods, deriving most carbs from veggies and integrating probiotic-rich foods into diets.
Drew Parisi, a Palo Alto, California-based nutrition consultant who runs “seasonal cleanses” for her clients, said, “I don’t find the typical juice cleanse to be sustainable or helpful for the average person looking for long-term solutions.” In an email to me, she suggested eating organic sources of protein — fish, poultry, a good protein powder — at each meal. “This will ensure that the toxins released from your cells will be excreted from your body, rather than recirculating in your bloodstream,” she said.
That said, not all juices and liquids are bad. When they are utilized in conjunction with other food-related cleansing, they can be quite beneficial.
“A cleanse is about decreasing the toxic foods and increasing the health supporting foods to support the digestive system. Any attempt to cut back on foods such as processed sugars, refined carbs and alcohols will lead to a cleaner, healthier body over time,” holistic health coach Jackie Vanover said.
“Start every morning with a cleansing tonic. This tonic improves digestion and heals the liver which naturally cleanses the body,” she said, adding that she recommends a tonic containing the juice of one lemon and 1 teaspoon each of apple cider vinegar and maple syrup mixed in 8 ounces warm water.
“Nutrient density is crucial. The body needs 2100 calories a day,” nutritionist Nicole Wright, author of Juicing Essentials.
Don’t forget, nutrition is key
Wright agrees that juicing can be an important element of a broader cleansing program.
“For juice cleansing, the 4 elements are 1) cease mastication, 2) hydration, 3) glucose, 4) nutrient density,” she said. “The ‘food, body, me’ cleanse provides five servings of fruit and vegetables in every eight ounce juice. At six juices a day, that’s 48 servings of fruits and veggies, far more than the body needs. With excess nutrient density, the brain feels happy and releases excess fat stores.”
Maria Marlowe, a health coach and healthy recipe creator, says she recommends three cleansing foods to her clients:
— Dark, leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, collards and dandelion greens. “What makes greens such a powerful detoxifier is the very antioxidant that gives them their rich color: Chlorophyll,” she told me.
— Brocolli and other cruciferous vegetables. “Detoxification is a 3-step process: Activation, neutralization, and elimination,” she said. “Broccoli contains three glucosinolate phytonutrients that work synergistically to assist the body in detoxing in all three phases. During a detox, one serving of about a cup can be eaten daily.”
— Tumeric. “Turmeric is a potent liver detoxifier. The liver is what ultimately determines which nutrients get passed into our bloodstream, and which toxins are broken down and processed for removal from the body, so you don’t want your liver to be functioning at a subpar level,” said Marlowe.
Throughout your cleanse, you might consider some company. “I believe the idea of a group support is pivotal,” said Dr. Lucas D. Chesser, a chiropractor who practices near Los Angeles. “It is much easier if people can get together and share recipes and cooking tips if they are enrolled in a program together.”
J. D. Heyes