I’m considering going on a juice fast.  What do you think?  Is it safe?

Juice fasting is trendy and incredibly controversial, and I hope I can dispel some of the myths surrounding that controversy.  The most important thing when considering any new type of dietary adventure is to make an informed decision.  So let’s look at the facts:

  • People go on juice fasts for all types of reasons (spiritual, religious, weight loss).  No matter your reason, it can be safe to go on a juice fast for a short period of time (1-3 days), if you make sure to consume enough calories (at least 1200 kcal minimum per day).

    Is a juice fast healthy? (photo from newyork.grubstreet.com)

  • Children, pregnant women, and anyone with serious or chronic health issues should not go on a juice fast.
  • By drinking only fruit and vegetable juices, you are likely to deprive your body of essential nutrients, like proteins, healthy fats, and vitamins.  This is not a good idea for any extended period of time, as your body will not have the fuel it needs to run properly.  This may damage your organs over time.
  • One of the most popular reasons to go on a juice fast is to “detox.”  The idea is that it will help remove toxins from the body, because if the body doesn’t have to focus on digestion, it can focus on releasing built up toxins.  There is no scientific proof that this actually occurs, and, in fact, the liver and kidneys are meant to be natural detoxifiers.  Regardless of the science behind it, many people do cite feeling physically cleansed and mentally clear during a juice fast.
  • If you’re considering a juice fast for weight loss reasons, be aware that much of the weight people lose while fasting is actually water weight, which will be restored once you go back to your normal diet.
  • If you do choose to go on a juice fast, be sure not to over-exert yourself.  Your body will need more rest.

The bottom line is that if you are eating and living a healthy lifestyle everyday, you don’t need a juice cleanse because your body is in a good rhythm taking in the nutrition it needs and eliminating what it doesn’t use naturally.  Also, the large intestine is a place where a lot of “unwanted stuff” can build up, so if you’re worried about cleaning out your system, book a colonoscopy: you’ll clear out the intestine during the procedure “prep” AND get bonus points for taking this preventative step to colon cancer.

Juice cleanses are often used to kick-start a healthier diet—why not cut to the chase and start your healthy lifestyle today?!

– Stacey Antine, M.S. R.D., author, Appetite for Life and founderHealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.

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