Celebrities may swear by juice cleanses but health experts say they are not good for us in the long run. Here's what you need to know.
How healthy is a juice cleanse?
The mention of any diet is enough to send us running for the biscuit tin, so the idea of a juice detox – drinking nothing but juices for up to 10 days – is something we cannot bring ourselves to digest.
But there must be something to it, given that celebrities including Beyoncé and Anne Hathaway have reportedly juiced their way to perfection at some point in time.
Maybe juicing is where Sarah Jessica Parker gets her perfect shape from. The Sex and the City actress is an advocate of the BluePrint cleanse, made up of six numbered bottles of vegetable and fruit juices per day.
The detox gives people the option of choosing between three levels of intensity – Renovation, Foundation or the ominous-sounding Excavation – in which participants take in about 900 to 1,100 calories per day over a three- to five-day period.
Another celebrity, Salma Hayek, swears so much by liquid fruit dieting, she started her own company, Cooler Cleanse.
People on this 1,200-calorie diet receive a home delivery of six fresh-pressed juices daily, plus some almond-nut milk to help increase protein intake during the cleanse.
But perhaps the most extreme diet is the Master Cleanse programme, made famous by Beyoncé, who claims it helped her drop 20 pounds in less than two weeks for her role in the 2006 movie Dreamgirls.
This 10-day liquid diet is made up of warm water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
But not everyone in Hollywood agrees with the fad.
Tracy Anderson, the trainer responsible for shaping some of Hollywood’s hottest bodies, including Jennifer Lopez, Courtney Cox and Gwyneth Paltrow, despises juice cleanses.
“Juice fasting destroys your metabolic rate,” she told the June issue of Good Housekeeping Middle East, in a joint interview with friend and business partner Gwyneth Paltrow. “I see a lot of women who are like, ‘oh, I lost seven pounds and then I gained 10’. That’s not what detoxification is about.”
Anderson is in favour of detoxification, which she calls a “motivating word to start a healthier lifestyle”. Paltrow said while she likes to do a cleanse once a year, “it’s not just juices. And I don’t do it for weight loss”.
But for those in the UAE who believe juicing makes you beautiful, there are a handful of juice detox companies offering the luxury of freshly squeezed juices delivered right to your doorstep.
Wiebke Katsoudas, the managing director and founder of Essentially (www.essentially.ae), says juicing counteracts an imbalanced diet consisting of irregular eating habits and a high intake of refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
Katsoudas says that while our bodies have great self-healing mechanisms that combat toxins, if you put it under too much daily “bad food” strain, it cannot always cope with the purification process.
It takes approximately 18 hours for most people’s bodies to eliminate one meal.
“If you take away the work of digesting food, you allow the system to rid itself of old toxins while facilitating healing,” she says.
Nicole Junghaenel at Detox Delight (www.detox-delight.ae) says typical symptoms for a body loaded with toxins are constant weight gain, general lethargy, headaches, skin problems, congestion, diarrhoea, frequent mood swings and more.
Josephine Adams, 27, a project development manager in Abu Dhabi, says she often does a juice diet and one time lost seven pounds in seven days, equivalent to three kilos.
“It’s amazing for your skin and your hair as well. It just makes me look and feel healthier.”
But while some, like Adams, experience large amounts of weight loss in a short amount of time during a juice detox, many experts warn people to exercise caution.
Mike Ryan, the board-certified trichologist (known as the Dubai Hair Doctor) and a hair expert for Clear Arabia, says apart from drying out your skin and rotting your teeth, a mere two weeks of being on this restrictive diet can also make your hair fall out two to three months later.
“Women come to me with what appears to be unexplained hair loss, and then, when you trace it back, it turns out that they were on some extreme juice fast a few months before,” he says.
Polina Spyris, a nutritionist at Bespoke Wellness in Dubai, says juicing is a “great way” to get a boost of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. However, she says it is not something that should be done on a long-term basis.
“We have teeth for a reason, not just for aesthetic appeal. They break down food, and we also need the whole process of releasing saliva, which has enzymes that begin the digestive process.”
The integrative physician Dr Robin Friedlander, who is based in New York City, says there are “a lot” of downsides to a liquid diet.
“Even if only for one meal a day ... I encourage my patients to make juices a treat, never a staple.”
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