The juice cleanse: it’s not as great as it looks

Juice Cleanse (Andreas Patsiaouros)

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

With reading week only a few weeks away, there can be a lot of pressure to lose those last few pounds and fit into that itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini. And there’s no end to the quick-fix diets promising results in days.  The latest in a long line of weight loss trends is the juice cleanse.

These juices are made up with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most juice cleanses last from three to five days but there are many other options available.

The juice cleanse is often seen as the go-to solution for short-term weight loss or as a way to detox the body of unwanted chemicals.

However, experts warn that this cleanse may not be as wonderful as it first appears, as the diet comes with a plethora of dangerous health risks.

“People either buy or make fresh juice and then have those for a certain period of time,” explained Caroline Valeriote, a registered dietitian at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“They’re not going to often rid the body of toxins altogether or create the weight loss effects that maybe some people are expecting,”  Valeriote warned.

Despite claims of fast and easy weight loss, the juice cleanse is relatively ineffective.

“You’re expecting too much in too short a period of time,” explained Valeriote. “For some individuals it can take years to actually achieve the type of weight loss they’re expecting.”

Marilyn Nieboer, a health educator at Wilfrid Laurier University, explained that weight loss achieved by the juice cleanse would be difficult to maintain. “It’s not a good weight loss control over the long term,” Nieboer said .

Leah Marie, a student at Laurier, tried the juice cleanse as a way to lose those last five pounds before prom in 2011.

“I originally just planned on making it a three day juice cleanse because that’s what everyone had talked about doing, but I instead tried doing a week and a bit,” said Marie. “Going into it, I thought it was going to be easy.”

However, Marie experienced several complications while on the juice cleanse. Going into the diet knowing that she would experience headaches and hunger, Marie was shocked that she got sick to the point where she was throwing up. Marie eventually fainted while on the juice cleanse. It was her wake-up call.

“You can’t just only have juice because eventually everything’s going to start shutting down; that’s what happened to me,” Marie explained.

And the juice cleanse isn’t any more effective for clearing the body of toxins. Valeriote explained that there are many various ways that we ingest toxins, such as air, water and  food. Therefore, a juice cleanse may not be very effective.

“People think they can actually rid their bodies of toxins,” Valeriote said. “You can’t rid yourself because you’re constantly being exposed.”

Both Valeriote and Nieboer agree that there is no artificial way to detox the body of these toxins. The body already does this for us through different organs like the liver and kidneys.

“I think what people forget is if you live a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy diet in moderation, you have a body that functions perfectly,” added Nieboer. “It’s all about maintaining a balance in life and doing everything in healthy moderation.”

This includes getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy foods. It may not be the quick fix you were looking for, but a healthy lifestyle is a safe and effective way to lose weight.

“Trust me, losing those five pounds are not worth it. Just go to the gym or eat healthy,” advised Marie.

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