Juice cleanses, such as the water, honey, lemon, cayenne pepper detox, have become trendy. They've garnered support from celebrities and have proliferated across cyberspace, their recipes populating lifestyle and diet blogs. But are they effective? And even more important, are they safe?
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Juice Detox Diet
Harvard Health asks: Is juicing "fad or fab? First, there's no published research supporting the efficacy and safety of juice cleanses. Your body has its own detoxification, so a juicing cleanse to "detoxify" the intestines is wholly unnecessary.
That said, juice combinations without the fasting component, can have its benefits. Citrus-based juices, for instance, may reduce heart disease risk. Drinking juice combinations may also increase your intake of soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals and healthy antioxidants.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns you to take heed, as cleansing (along with fasting) can induce headaches, fainting, weakness and dehydration.
Moreover, detox diets don't supply all the nutrients you need and will not lead to lasting weight loss. By going on a detox diet, you run the risk of consuming products containing harmful ingredients or bacteria, especially when juices haven't been treated or pasteurized.
Honey, Lemon and Cayenne Pepper
As for honey and whether it induces weight loss, the jury is still out. The Australian Government Department of Health lists honey as a "discretionary" food choice, as it's a food that you should avoid when you're trying to lose weight.
Yet one small March 2016 study of 50 participants, published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, found that consuming lemon honey juice while fasting, reduced body weight. Despite the efficacy of lemon honey juice in this particular study, fasting is not recommended as a viable option, as it can lead to health issues.
As a general matter, lemon is a healthier alternative to more sugary drinks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests swapping sweetened lemon tea, which has 180 calories, with lemon in sparkling water, which has zero calories. Though lemon juice or water itself does not provide a magic bullet to weight loss, it can make for a nice alternative to other more sugary drinks.
Some studies and reviews have pointed to cayenne pepper consumption as a way to lose weight. One October 2012 review by Appetite, found that capsaicin, a key component of cayenne pepper, increases energy expenditure, increases lipid oxidation and reduces appetite.
Read more: Benefits of Lemon Water
Healthy Ways to Lose Weight
Though juice combinations can provide certain vitamins and minerals, cleanses like the "master cleanse detox" or "Dr. Axe detox program" can ultimately prove detrimental. GirlsHealth.gov recommends healthy ways to lose weight that include:
- Avoiding sugary drinks.
- Eating fewer sweets and unhealthy snacks.
- Engaging in physical activity that includes a total of 60 minutes of moderate or physical activity each day.
- Being mindful about why you're eating.
- Cutting back on fats.
- Keeping fast food meals to a minimum.
- As soon as you get hungry, eating a snack containing fiber and protein.
- Being mindful of your eating habits.
The Better Health Channel of Victoria, Australia, advises against skipping meals and crash dieting, while recommending balancing extra food with extra exercise, eating a varied diet and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.
In terms of exercise, the Better Health Channel recommends playing a sport you enjoy, walking instead of taking the car on short trips, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of elevators.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Juicing: Fad or Fab?"
- NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Australian Government Department of Health: "Discretionary Food and Drink Choices"
- Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine: "Does Short-Term Lemon Honey Juice Fasting Have Effect on Lipid Profile and Body Composition in Healthy Individuals?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Rethink Your Drink"
- Appetite: "Capsaicinoids and Capsinoids. A Potential Role for Weight Management? A Systematic Review of the Evidence"
- GirlsHealth.gov: "If You Need to Lose Weight"
- Better Health Channel: "Weight Loss: A Healthy Approach"