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What the Health: Juice cleanses

The Varsity’s health and fitness hotline
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Skip the juice and treat yourself to a whole fruit instead! HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY
Skip the juice and treat yourself to a whole fruit instead! HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY

‘Juicing’ or doing a ‘juice cleanse’ is a detox diet that has been discussed as a method of purging the ‘toxins’ out of your body. In the past, I’ve been vocal of my discontent with the promotion of similar detox diets, such as the use of Fit Tea — and I hold the same stance with the juice cleanse diet. 

What is juice cleansing?

Juice cleansing is a diet in which an individual replaces solid food with juice from fruits and vegetables for a period of time — between days to weeks — in order to ‘detox’ their body. Specifically, these cleanse diets tend to promise lofty benefits, such as better circulation, improved liver function, and a break for your organs. Long-term promises include weight loss, reduced inflammation and bloating, and relieved chronic fatigue. 

What toxins are you talking about?

However, as you might expect, these diets rarely tell you the specific ‘toxins’ they are targeting. Why? Quite frankly, there is hardly any evidence suggesting that these diets remove any toxins. The fact is, your liver, kidneys, and bodily excretions take care of that! You should appreciate them more; don’t think that a diet you saw on Pinterest or the Instagram explore page will suddenly do a better job than them!  

But cleansing must be great for weight loss, right?

While you may be successful in the short term, there is not much evidence supporting the notion that these detox diets help with weight loss in the long term. Research suggests that fasting is linked to stress responses and feelings of extreme hunger, fatigue, irritability, and even bad breath. 

Instead of cutting solid food out of your diet entirely because your favourite Instagram page told you to do so, try adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, whether in solid or liquid form. Excessive juice intake can cause problems for those who suffer from diabetes and can also lead to weight gain. Protein, an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, is also lost in a juice diet, which can impact your muscle mass. 

So, the next time you come across a fancy new detox diet promising you the Earth, Moon, and all of the stars around them, think about the potential side effects instead and pick up a whole fruit — you might just like it.

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