Welcome back to the next part of my blog series on juice detoxes. If you missed it, you can see part 1 here (what is the theory behind doing a juice detox?), but today I am talking about the place they have in a healthy lifestyle.
I want to provide you with an honest perspective about what juice detoxes, fasts, cleanses etc. really can do. Applebar supplies juices, but not empty promises or false claims, and I would hate to be involved with perpetuating any healthy lifestyle myths.
So, here we go!
Are juice detoxes necessary or useful for health?
There is little doubt, in anyone’s opinion, that increasing your intake of fruits and veggies is a good thing. They contain soluble and insoluble fibre, essential for gut health, and micronutrients (A.K.A. vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) that in the right doses have a specific role in the functioning of every type of cell in your body. Some are essential for healthy hair, skin and nails, some for good hormone function, and some for energy and immunity.
Getting your fruits and vegetable intake up to par, whilst reducing your intake of low nutrient (but often high calorie) foods and drinks, will get you well on the road to improvements in general physical health.
But you know that already! How do juices help?
I said last time about how juices and smoothies concentrate the micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables into a drink that is easily absorbed, convenient and hopefully tasty too. This means that people who really struggle to consume enough fruits and vegetables can dramatically increase their micronutrients, even if they change nothing else about their diet.
People who already include plenty of whole foods will see less of a boost as they already have most of their bases covered, but if they’re caught short or have had a patch of less healthy choices (hello Summer holidays and Christmas parties!), including some juices or smoothies can help bring them back to their usual level.
Doing a juice ‘detox’ for a limited period of time can be healthy, especially if it motivates someone to eliminate low nutrient foods, and give them more clarity on their appetite and cravings. Even after 3 days of juicing, I frequently hear customers report making healthier choices going forward, and they decide to introduce occasional ‘juice days’ as a strategy to keep them on track, or if life is getting crazy and preparing healthy meals isn’t going to be possible.
And this works seamlessly for them, keeping them in a great place with their physical and mental health.
But this doesn’t work for everyone…
Now, this is the moment of truth, and I don’t know if any other juice business has ever said this before.
I’d honestly bet that the majority of the general population would struggle to maintain good psychological and emotional health whilst doing a juice ‘detox’. Humans have complex relationships with food: we daydream about it, get a pleasure kick out of it and can find temptation very hard to resist.
Doing a juice ‘detox’ with an emotional relationship with food can trigger psychological difficulties:
- It can make us fixate on ‘bad’ choices we made before and treat a detox like a punishment;
- It can make us beat ourselves up if we make ‘bad’ choices afterwards;
- It can make us feel deprived and isolated if everyone around is eating ‘normally’;
- It could promote an orthorexic attitude, where our self-esteem and identity relies on pure or perfect food choices.
If any of this already sounds familiar, rebuilding your psychological health and relationship with food is probably worth prioritizing over any marginal improvements in physical health you could achieve in 3 days of juicing. Nutritionists, counsellors, therapists, personal trainers and juice bar owners(!) are familiar with these patterns and could offer you some tips or advice.
There are a couple more important caveats to the ‘healthiness’ of juice ‘detoxes’:
- If you have a physical or mental health condition that requires monitoring and making sensible (not extreme) dietary choices then ask your doctor or consult a nutritionist about how your diet could improve or help manage your condition. Don’t jump on the juice detox bandwagon because you read on the internet that it was a miracle cure.
- Juice detoxes are typically low calorie, and not sufficient for extremely active people or pregnant or breastfeeding mums. In these cases, juices can be a great supplement to make sure micronutrient boxes are being ticked.
Can juices be balanced?
When foods, drinks and overall diets are scrutinised for their health promoting properties, variety and balance always come up. Relying on juices and smoothies can offer a variety of vitamins and minerals, although you would be missing out on nutrients like B12 and D3 if you weren’t mindful to supplement or include other food groups, and with the exception of blending avocado or coconut into a smoothie, you’d be missing out various fats and would struggle to hit necessary protein requirements to repair and maintain you body’s cells.
In conclusion, juice ‘detoxes’ may be useful for health in the right context, but are by no means necessary or suitable for everyone.
I hope someone finds these words helpful! If you are thinking of doing a juice plan but this post has raised some questions for you, please use the form to get in touch and we can work out what approach might suit you best. Next time I will share my thoughts about using juice ‘detoxes’ for weight loss…