Concentrating on fact

How healthy is a juice cleanse?

It’s that time of year again – all the holiday dinners have been eaten, the February chocolate consumed and people are left feeling in need of a change. 

One tempting offer is the juice cleanse. 

“Initially I was completely against the idea,” Adrienne Fish, a Toronto based comedian says. “I thought it sounded cruel to treat your body like that.” 

After speaking to a friend, she decided to try it out. 

There are variables as far as cleanses go, but typically while on a juice cleanse a person will spend one to three days drinking liquids made up of highly concentrated fruits and vegetables. 

The concept is a controversial one with a lot of conflicting information behind it, but more and more people are giving it a try. 

Fish had a positive experience on her cleanse after being persuaded by her friend to try it. 

“She was saying that it takes three days for your body to rid itself of whatever is in your intestines, so it in fact gives your body a break from always breaking down foods,” Fish says. 

This is the main concept behind a juice cleanse. 

According to a 2013 study by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it takes 24 hours or more for food to go from mouth to colon. 

By switching to juice for three days, the idea is that a person can hit the refresh button on their gut. 

Gerren McDonald, a member of the kinesiology and applied health faculty at the University of Winnipeg, isn’t sold on the idea. 

“Our physiology is very effective at keeping us clean,” he says. 

McDonald says research to support cleanses is not reliable. 

“They typically don’t do a randomized control group with a placebo, making it hard to sort through,” he says. “Most people make the comment that they feel better, but if that’s because of the nutrients or more psychological… it’s a big unknown.” 

Fish doesn’t know if it actually cleansed her body, but she did have results that she didn’t anticipate. 

“You become way more in touch with your metabolism,” Fish says. “When it’s at its height and when it’s at its low.” 

Fish has made changes to her diet according to the discoveries she made about her metabolism while on the cleanse. 

Though this may be a great option for some, it can trigger eating disorders in others. 

According to an article published in Marie Claire magazine, there are people using these detoxes as a way of masking an eating disorder. Others develop destructive eating patterns after finishing a cleanse. 

“Our body needs a certain amount of calories,” McDonald says. 

For consumers who are looking for a dramatic way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, he remains wary. 

“I’m sensitive toward the idea of doing ‘something big,’” he says. “There are ways to slowly build into the lifestyle we’re looking for. There’s no one big piece for that, though people always have that hope.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 3, 2016)

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