Are Juice Cleanses Good for You? Doctors Debunk the Myths About All-Liquid Diets
A juice cleanse is a popular diet that people use to flush toxins out of the body and as an alternative to other traditional weight loss methods. Some juice cleanses are strictly liquid-based, but there are others which include eating a small snack every now and then.
The Master Cleanse, an extreme liquid diet that bans all solid foods, was reported to have helped Beyonce become smaller for her role in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, according to New York Magazine. Dieters who participate in the Master Cleanse are required to drink a combination of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water for 10 days, anywhere from six to 12 glasses a day, the official website of the diet states.
"Many people turn to cleanses because they feel off — they're bloated and sluggish, dependent on caffeine and junk food cravings, breaking out," registered dietitian Stephanie Middleburg told Health.com. "When you eliminate toxins from your system, your entire body feels better and reacts both internally and externally."
However, there are no research studies that recommend juice cleanses as a healthy alternative to traditional weight loss. "I don't know why someone would do a juice cleanse," Dr. John Buse, chief of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told BuzzFeed in 2015. "There's very little evidence that it does anything good for you."
Most juice cleanses claim that they will clear your digestive system of any toxins, giving your body "a rest." But health professionals say that your body constantly detoxifies itself through a functioning liver, kidneys and intestines. "The premise of doing juice cleanses and other types of liquid detox regimens is false," University of California, Davis sports nutrition director Liz Applegate told Live Science. "The body does not need any help in getting rid of toxins," she said.
"The notion of using these methods to give the digestive system a rest is nonsensical," Applegate continued. "The digestive system operates every day to digest foods, and it doesn't need any rest."
Even though proponents and detractors of juice cleanses both exist, there isn't much evidence that the liquid-based diet is either good or bad for you.
"[If you're healthy to begin with,] there's very little evidence that it does anything bad for you, either," Dr. Buse told Buzzfeed. "As a physician, it's not something I'd fight with them about. I'm just not sure there's a great deal of benefits."
As with any diet, your doctor should always be consulted before embarking on a weight loss journey. This is even more true of extreme diets, such as juice cleansing.