A recent column in a New York newspaper was written by a woman who finally decided to do a juice cleanse. Her conclusion? Juice fasts cleanse you very well.....they cleanse the "will to live" right out of you!!! This made me laugh, but it's actually a serious health truth. So I decided to explore this constantly revolving dietary concept just a bit further.
Let me start by saying that every year I do a 25 hour fast for religious reasons. Frankly, I think I am a stellar faster, maybe because the fast is part of the yearly process of releasing my sins and I always seem to accumulate plenty of sins!! Truth be told, if I am not exercising and I am simply sitting and praying, my lack of caloric expenditure makes it very easy to tolerate this yearly fast which does not even allow water, unless you take medications. Since age 12 this fast has been a relative cinch for me. But the idea of subsisting on only liquid calories, no matter how nutritious, seems to fly in the face of sensibility, especially if you exercise daily and you have to work at a mentally or physically challenging job. I have to consume a pretty good breakfast daily to fuel the mostly intense workouts I perform every morning. An hour of a strenuous cardiovascular workout, some days followed by a rigorous weight routine requires adequate protein and carbohydrate intake throughout the day. I suppose I could get those calories from a series of nutrient and protein rich shakes, but that's not the idea behind a juice fast - no protein powder is included on most of those programs. And I actually enjoy the sensation of chewing and swallowing my food calories. It provides its own sense of satiation.
The Master Cleanse was actually created by Scientologist Peter Glickman, who re-packaged a prior cleanse concept to market it to the general public, along with a book extolling the virtues of this detoxification program. Celebrities like Beyonce Knowles and Demi Moore swear by the energizing effect and of course the weight loss that accompanies this cleanse. Many of these juice fasts claim that headaches, pain, irritability, fatigue and cravings disappear, hence the assertion that toxins are gone. Newer cleanses do offer more calories, closer to 1000 or 1200 calories, and they often include nut milk (for protein) and vegetable juice snacks for vitamin and mineral support. I have no problem if you'd like to do a day or two of this type of cleanse, to help disengage you from a poor quality diet, and to help to prepare you for the mindset of healthier eating. As a grammatical analogy, think of it as the period that comes at the end of a poorly worded sentence, followed by a newly structured and sophisticated sentence. But when you add colonics, which many programs recommend, and stay on a diet like this for prolonged periods of time, I think you've abandoned health for a more sinister dietary program. What is it you are really cleaning? Your bowels for the most part function well, unless you have a serious medical condition or you are eating what we call in the world of nutrition "crap." Crap is highly processed, fiber poor sorely lacking in nutrients food, and yes, a steady diet of this can cause bowel issues. The solution?
A diet, mostly plant-based, that includes daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, healthy fat sources like olive oil, whole grains, some fat free dairy (or other sources of calcium), and adequate protein in the form of either white skinless meats, fish and eggs or non-meat sources. Want to juice a day or two before re-tooling your diet, sure. Beyond that it becomes a questionable lifestyle choice that does not support a daily exercise program or for that matter, your health.
Do you juice? Why? Do you have a strong position on juicing or cleanses? We'd love to hear from you.