You may have heard around that detox juices are the true miracle health tonics designed to detoxify the body… But do they really work?
According to the website of the American government National Center for Complementary and Integrative health, there is no medical evidence or any kind of scientific proof, or even any guarantee that detox juices really remove harmful substances from our bodies.
While the idea of magically redefining the body with a cleansing juice is quite popular, the body can remove these toxins and clean itself, says Joan Salge Blake, a professor at Boston University and an expert in nutrition and healthy eating.
“There is no science to suggest that you need to detoxify your body,” Blake said. “Your body is smarter than that. You’ve built detoxifying organs, the liver and kidneys are designed to clean out any debris that needs to leave the body.
“Detox juices usually make a person consume only fruit or vegetable juices and water for several days to weeks. Juices are usually made with organic products, fruits and vegetables.
People who participate in a juice detox may be trying to “kick start” healthier eating habits — and may notice a small temporary change in weight, according to Robin Foroutan, nutritionist at The Morrison Center and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“(When you do a juice cleanse), you’re eliminating junk food, gluten, high fructose corn syrup; things that people might be allergic to, so you’re reducing the bloating and may lose a few pounds, but not it’s a real detox,” said Foroutan.
Toxins in our body are eliminated through sweat, feces and urine, according to Foroutan.
Blake notes that some juice detox programs can cost upwards of $100 for a 3-5 day cleanse, but generally these programs leave out some essential nutrients that can help cleanse the body.
When you juice vegetables and fruits, fiber is left behind, and fiber equals “gold” for our bodies, said Blake, who is the author of Nutrition and You: Basics for Good Health.
“If we’re going to talk about detoxifying foods found in nature, they’re high in fiber,” Blake said. “(Detox juice) leaves behind the fibers that help move things through the GI tract; and it’s kind of like you don’t have a broom to sweep the GI tract.”
Foroutan notes that some detox programs come with small meals or encourage people to eat smaller meals to prevent constipation and ensure people get enough calories.
For those who want to try a detox juice, it’s important to talk to a nutritionist in advance or make your body easier to clean by just cutting out some of the unhealthy foods you’ve been eating or trying a vegetarian diet for a few weeks. In the early days of the detox program, many people feel exhausted or have a headache.
“People generally don’t feel good about detox programs for a few reasons,” said Foroutan.
“They may not be getting enough calories or the juices are too high in the sugars from the fruits themselves, so their blood sugar remains high, and the insulin spikes continue.”
Foroutan said that people who want to “clean” their bodies can do this naturally, just by drinking more water and eating more whole fruits, not juices, as well as vegetables and fiber-rich foods.