If you’re like me, you sometimes feel your body craving change. A reset in routine, a change of pace, or just an overall desire to feel better. This is the motivational force behind an initiative to take action.
As a dietitian, my job is to help people harness this motivation by developing a framework that supports lasting change. Taking action by forming new habits can be hard. Simple tasks, coupled with the support of others, enables people to move forward and achieve their goals.
One process that I’ve found particularly helpful for supporting change is initiating a well-organized juice cleanse. A cleanse can support your body in the elimination of the many toxic stressors of life, creating the freedom to find better health. While sudden change in diet is never easy, having a partner providing guidance along your journey improves outcomes exponentially.
Curious if a juice cleanse is right for you?
5 Health Benefits
Completing an elimination diet or cleanse of any sort for a short period of time is a great way to give yourself a mental reset with your diet. External influences like holidays, special occasions or stress caused by work or world events can cause us to stray away from a diet that nourishes our body. When we have been eating a less than optimal diet, it can be incredibly helpful to take a step back and start with a clean slate. With a simple roadmap for change, and the encouragement of renewed discipline, juicing allows your mind to refocus by eliminating the clutter of dietary decisions and reducing the cravings for unhealthy foods.
Improved Cellular Health
You may have heard that fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, but what are antioxidants? Antioxidants are free-radical scavengers. Free-radicals can contribute to inflammatory diseases within the body. We get exposed to free-radicals by natural means through normal bodily processes such as digestion, sun exposure, or exercise. We also are exposed to them through unnatural means in the form of environmental toxic exposures. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to free-radicals to make them less reactive or promote their decomposition. Juices are high in various antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, as well as phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Rest the Digestive System
If you find that you are experiencing frequent gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, or constipation, doing a juice cleanse can be the perfect way to give your GI system a break from digestion. The process of digestion is a pretty extensive one. In fact, at least 10% of your daily energy output is devoted solely to the process of digestion. By doing a juice cleanse, it allows your body to redirect the energy that was being used for digestion elsewhere within the body. This energy can be put towards the optimization of healing in other parts of the body.
Modify Your Microbiome to Support Weight Loss
Did you know that bacteria in our body outnumbers our own cells 10 to 1? Given this, it should make sense that modifications to our microbiome can have a significant impact on how our body works and functions. Juice cleanses have been found to modify the gut microbiome in a way that is supportive towards weight loss. In a 2017 study done at UCLA (1), participants followed a 3-Day juice cleanse to observe the impact the cleanse would have on the microbiome on participants. It was observed that the percent of Firmicutes in the microbiome decreased, while the percent of Bacteroidetes, Lactobacillus, and Verrucomicrobia increased. These increased strains are commonly associated with leaner individuals. Participants that lost weight during this cleanse maintained the weight loss for a significant amount of time after the cleanse was completed.
Optimize Your Diet
One of the major indirect benefits of doing a juice cleanse is being able to discover exactly what foods work best for your body based on your personal needs. By reducing the list of foods you are consuming to just vegetables and fruits, you remove a variety of foods that can commonly create inflammation within the body. For many people, foods that contain gluten and dairy can create significant symptoms that negatively impact their health. After completing a juice cleanse, you can slowly reintroduce foods back into your diet to discover what foods work specifically for you. In addition, many of us are not naturally consuming a diet full of vegetables and fruits to ensure the nutrients that we need to optimally function. Juicing makes that easy by concentrating more vegetables and fruits into your day in a more efficient way.
Finding a Cleanse that Works for You
If you think a juice cleanse is right for you in this moment, be sure to explore your options. Not all cleanses are created equal, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Consider your intention behind choosing to cleanse and listen to your intuition as you consider the options. Most importantly, be reasonable with your expectations and choose a cleanse that you are confident you can stick with through the end.
Regardless of your goals, here are some things to look for in a cleanse:
More Vegetables Than Fruits
Lots of juices are heavy on the fruits – apple, pineapple, orange, etc. Some fruit is fine, and makes the juice more palatable, but too much can spike your blood sugar.
Unless you are juicing at home and drinking the juice immediately, look for juices that are cold-pressed. This is a process of extracting maximum vitamins from the produce while avoiding heat and oxygen that can quickly destroy nutrients and enzymes.
The Juice Is Alive
Avoid any form of pasteurization, including High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP). Pasteurization in any form destroys some of the natural goodness of the produce.
Non-organic fruits and vegetables are shown to carry a higher level of pesticides, which offsets some of the benefits of juicing.
To learn more about our Wellness Consultations and the Alive + Well Juice Cleanse Program, please click here.
(1) Henning, S.M., Yang, J., Shao, P., Lee, R., Huang, J., Ly, A., Hsu, M., Lu, Q., Thames, G., Heber, D., & Zhaoping, L. (2017). Health benefit of vegetable/fruit juice-based diet: Role of microbiome. Sci Rep, 7(2167), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-02200-6
(2) Jacomin, A.C., Gul, L., Sudhakar, P., Korcsmaros, T., & Nezis, I.P. (2018). What we learned from big data for autophagy research. Front Cell Dev Biol, 6(92), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2018.00092