The ‘Liquid Diet’, the ‘Juice Cleanse’, the ‘Detox diet’, call it what you may, this trend has taken the dieting industry by storm. Promising rapid weight loss, radiant skin and better mood with just a quick fix of drinking your calories, however, may not be all that true.
It also doesn’t help when every other Instagram celebrity is advertising some sort of juice diet or weight loss “miracle” with their washboard abs in complete disregard of how that physique came into being. While it is true that consuming fruits and vegetables, rather than carbs, is a healthier option in general. It is also important to understand how close packaged juices are, in nutritional terms, to an average fruit. Furthermore, it is also imperative that one is able to gauge the exact impact of an all juice diet on their health.
The first issue with these juice diets is lack of protein. A daily supply of protein is required to build a healthy immune system and enable muscle regeneration. Substituting protein from meals with these juices strips you off this critical daily requirement. In addition, not all human bodies are alike, what suits your friend or a social media influencer will not necessarily be ideal for you. For example, liquid diet consumption for a few days straight may not be harmful for one person, while at the same time, others may be more susceptible to infections or illness, owing to a weaker immune system.
There can be positives of having a juice, especially when it’s difficult to fit seven servings of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet. Juices allow for consumption of extra nutrients and vitamins which would have otherwise been missed for want of care in planning a diet. Juicing also makes absorbing the nutrients, minerals and enzymes easier as insoluble fibre is harder to break down.
However, attempting to survive on juice alone is not as straight forward might end up making you hungrier than usual. This is not just because the brain takes time in adjusting to the new diet. Research shows that eating solid foods helps reach satiety quicker than drinking liquids, even when both provide the same amount of calories. Not just that, juicing fruits also makes it easy to overconsume them. Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina points out,
“If you eat an orange or two, you get full, but if you drink a glass of orange juice, you could be drinking the amount of sugar in four to six oranges—or more than a Coke—and [yet] you don’t feel full afterward[s].”
Another issue is that juices contain a larger amount of sugar as compared to the same fruit in its solid state. This can cause blood sugar swings which result in a dip in energy once the sugar wears off. Additionally, fructose, the type of sugar found in most fruits, is removed from the bloodstream by the liver. If you’re on an all-juice diet or juice cleanse, the organ can become overwhelmed and convert the sugar to liver fat instead, making you more susceptible to insulin resistance— which leads to diabetes — or heart disease.
The major cons of being on a juice cleanse is the removal of fibre. High fibre foods in a diet aid in digestion, a prolonged absence of fibre in adequate quantities can severely wreck the normal digestive processes in the body. The fibre content is one of the main reasons fruit and vegetables are beneficial for us. Despite being harder to digest, the insoluble fibre scrubs the digestive tract clean and gets rid of plaque and trapped toxins. It also helps limit sugar spikes by slowing the absorption of sugar in our blood. According to the American Dietary Association, it fibre helps lower cholesterol and increases satiety duration as well. Not just fibre, the juicing process destroys a number of beneficial compounds and antioxidants that naturally occur in fruits.
Detoxification is a naturally occurring process in the human body and does not need to be artificially stimulated. The liver is constantly detoxifying, ergo, going on a juice diet for the purpose of a body detox may not be necessary at all. While juicing does provide the digestive system with a ‘break’ and plenty of antioxidants which help the liver function normally, an occasional intake of juices is more than enough for this purpose.
It has also been found by a team of scientists from Britain, Singapore, and the Harvard School of Public Health that while eating fruit lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, substituting it with juice actually increases the risk. The report stated,
“The Study which was carried out over twenty-four years, found that blueberries were the best option with three servings per week cutting the risk of diabetes by 26%. Grapes and apples also substantially lowered the risk of diabetes, while bananas, plums and peaches had a negligible effect. Three weekly servings of fruit juice on the other hand, upped the risk by 8%.”
So regardless of how convenient it may seem to be on a juice diet and regardless of all the promises made, a real piece of fruit is by far a healthier option than juice. It won’t hurt to have an organic and healthy juice every now and then to help your liver and boost nutrient intake, but shifting to a liquid diet, especially for the purpose of a body detox, will actually harm your heath more in the long run.
So, the next time you get pulled into a fad diet trend, research to see what suits your body before jumping into the starvation contest. It might even be easier to just eat healthier and exercise when you get a chance. There is no glamorous way to a good health.
Views expressed are personal and should not be construed as professional medical advice.
About The Author
Saipriya Shahi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Food Science from the Auckland University of Technology. With a goal to change the future of food with her innovative yet quality product ideas, while being obsessed with photography on the side.