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Why You Shouldn’t Do a Juice Cleanse to Detox

Jan 6, 2020

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I have to admit, I often cringe just a bit when I hear people doing “detoxes” or juice cleanses! 

Yes, the nutritionist in me gets a little squirmy, and for good reason!

It’s not that having the occasional green drink or smoothie is bad for you, it’s just that doing a week or even day long juice cleanse might cause more *long term harm* than short term good!

Hear me out…

Why You Shouldn’t do a Juice Cleanse to Detox

*As always this is not medical advice and in no way all encompassing of any situation. Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice within reason as an addition to your normal real food meals can be very beneficial and even life changing for some.*

Myth: The best (and quickest) way to detox is doing a juice cleanse

Fact: There is a more simple way to encourage detox

The body is a brilliantly designed detox machine—our job is to give it the roadmap and tools needed to detox efficiently. When we eat real food, decrease stress and reduce toxic exposure from pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals found in conventional skincare and makeup and cleaning supplies, our body’s detox pathways will function effectively!

Don’t get me wrong—adding in the occasional celery juice, green drink or smoothie can do a lot of good, but it is a supplement, not an entire meal!

The 3 best and most effective ways you can encourage natural detox are…

  1. Eat real foods—full of fresh vegetables, quality proteins and nourishing fats), add naturally detoxifying foods like beets, garlic, onions, eggs and herbs. 
  2. Making sleep and rest a priority—stress impedes detoxification and also increases inflammation in the body. Draw boundaries, learn to say no and just get into bed!
  3. Eliminate toxic chemicals from your day—control what you can by choosing safe skincare, makeup and home cleaning supplies!

Myth: Juice cleanses detoxify the body

Fact: Juice cleansing could impede complete detoxification

Juice also doesn’t contain the necessary fats and proteins needed to facilitate both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detox—both are important to release and actually eliminate toxins!

Amino acids and essential fatty acids are key to liver detox. This is how the enzymes are made to detox and then shuttle those toxins out of the body. Vegetables and herbs provide powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that can encourage detox, but are by no means the only necessary component.

Myth: Juice cleanses give me energy

Fact: Juice cleanses can deplete your energy long term

Yes, you might see a temporary boost—sugar temporarily increases your energy, you are less focused on food or preparing food (time and energy consuming), digestive system isn’t having to work as much which can conserve energy temporarily.

While you may feel great shortly after drinking juice, that energy rush is temporary! Juice is quickly metabolized and will leave you with a crash long term. For those with pre-existing blood sugar, adrenal, hormone or thyroid imbalances, drinking too much juice, or even a little bit, can actually be pretty dangerous!

Myth: Juice cleanses give your body plenty of ‘food’

Fact: Juice cleanses are filled with sugar and void of other needed nutrients

Juice is pretty much straight sugar, yikes! Now it is a good way to get in a concentrated amount of nutrients without having to eat 10 salads, but the hefty amount of sugar sends your blood sugar through the roof. Blood sugar dysfunction is one root cause of hormone issues (PMS symptoms, PCOS, endometriosis and more) as well as adrenal and thyroid imbalance, mood swings and headaches. 

Think about it this way: if you have a juice or smoothie without protein and fats, you are drinking straight sugar. First, your blood sugar will jump, your energy will temporarily increase, and then your blood sugar will drop leaving you hungry, shaky and even irritated—but long term the impact on our hormones is great! Blood sugar dysfunction can also impact sleep—our body’s detox pathways are most active during deep nighttime sleep so if you are awake or tossing and turning, detox is not going to be as effective.

Detox is an energy and nutrient dependent process— protein in particular is key for detox as your body requires adequate amino acids to make the enzymes needed to support detoxification pathways. Increasing your protein intake with real food sources such as grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and even collagen or gelatin will encourage the detoxification process. Adding a fat source (like nut butter, eggs, grass-fed butter) and protein source is key to keeping blood sugar stable and allowing the liver to do its job more effectively!

A whole-foods approach is best with adequate protein, fat and calorie intake to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable!

Now, I am all about the occasional green drink or vegetable juice (they are super beneficial)—just make sure you are adding a fat and protein source on the side. Like a handful of nuts, some grass-fed beef jerky, or eggs. Or the best way is simply to have your juice along with your normal meal!

Myth: Juice cleanses flush you out in a good way

Fact: Juice cleanses can flush out too many nutrients + beneficial bacteria your body needs

While many liquid diets and juice cleanses are designed to flush out your digestive system, which proper digestion is *key* to detox, these often can flush out too many nutrients, especially the beneficial gut bacteria. Detoxification is a nutrient dependent process so we want to make sure we are replenishing nutrients and not depleting our body’s natural nutrient stores. I prefer using castor oil packs, movement, pure water and probiotic rich foods to encourage proper digestion and elimination.

Nutrient depletion can also greatly decrease your energy, metabolism and thyroid hormones, so keep that in mind too!

Myth: Juice cleanses help you lose weight

Fact: Juice cleanses can slow your metabolism and thyroid long term

Soup, juice cleanses or liquid diets (unless needed for medical reasons) reduce calories and food intake which can actually slow down your metabolism. Now, while immediately you might feel great and like you are losing weight, long term you can negatively impact your thyroid hormones. Your metabolism will slow down because it thinks it needs to work less due to less food intake—this is why so many ‘cleanses’ or weight loss programs that don’t get to the root cause of the issue actually create more long term issues and eventual weight gain. This yo-yo approach can be pretty dangerous as well as emotionally exhausting!

And the body needs nutrients (proteins + fats) to facilitate detox—instead of thinking about what you are removing or decreasing, support your body by approaching detox from a perspective of addition and abundance!

Myth: Juice cleanses are worth the investment

Fact: There are other great ways to use your money

But really, dollar signs are flying (!!) and I’m totally a sucker for good marketing!! Purchasing fresh juice is expensive and marketers know that they can catch you with lofty promises, so that only drives up the price more! It would be a better use of your money to focus on eating real foods, invest in quality supplements specific to your needs and invest in non-toxic skincare, makeup and home cleaning supplies!

What to do instead?

  1. If you are going to make a smoothie or green drink, *always* add protein!!! Vital Proteins Collage is my go to favorite, a pure and complete amino acid source. My friend Lindsay of Weeknight Bite also has a great smoothie e-book!
  2. Having the occasional green drink is fabulous and a great way to increase detox boosting foods—choose a drink that is low in sugar and high in greens—for example, celery, romaine, beets, apples and herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley!
  3. Toss the toxins—seriously, just do it! Toxins from skincare and home cleaning products in particular, since you are around those all day long, can mess up your hormones and add to liver congestion. We want to keep the body’s toxicity load as low as possible. Start small to make a big impact—deodorant, makeup, home cleaning supplies! And really, just toss the junk…it’s either junk in the trash can or junk in your body!
  4. Continue eating real food—and add in some detox boosting foods like beets, herbs, garlic, leafy greens, eggs, onions, and pure, quality proteins sources like wild caught fish and grass-fed beef. Don’t restrict your calories or skip meals when trying to detox.
  5. Focus on deep restful sleep—detox is an energy dependent process and the body needs restful sleep, particularly at night when detox pathways are open and working, to encourage natural detox! If you are having trouble sleeping, consider supporting your adrenals, taking a magnesium bath or using Equilibria’s CBD oil drops (best sleep ever)!

And we all know we can use a bit of a reboot from time to time! Our bodies are brilliantly designed to detox, they often just need a bit of guidance and a reset.

I personally have been through a pretty serious detox protocol this past year and it has helped me SO much—almost eliminated all my migraines, helped my thyroid function more effectively, helped my weight and metabolism balance out and balanced out my hormones postpartum.

<< Check out the Fresh Start Detox for a holistic approach to detox! >>

The results have lifted my mood and energy like never before! I put pen to paper and created a resource to help you do the same—the Fresh Start Detox. This detox protocol isn’t about giving you a list of a million things to avoid, but rather it gives you practical additions you can add to support your body through detox. Detox doesn’t have to be complicated, restrictive or expensive which is exactly why I created this resource!

Can’t wait to hear what you think of the Fresh Start Detox!

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