Juicing is an easy, quick way to get a load of fruits and vegetables into your body. Juicing diets vary, and not all of them require you to abstain from all other food. When you juice, you may — or may not — eat, too.
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You may use juice as a meal replacement for one meal, embark on a juice cleanse and consume nothing else or add juice to existing meals to simply up your intake of fresh produce.
Juicing is not an all-or-nothing diet approach. You can choose to add juice along with solid food, replace a single meal or go all-out and consume only juice for days or weeks.
Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake
The USDA MyPlate guidelines recommend adults eat a minimum of 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruits per day. Only 1 in 10 Americans meets this recommendation daily, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a diet the includes ample fruits and vegetables offers numerous benefits, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- More stable blood sugar levels
- Reduced risk of eye and digestive problems
- Protection from some types of cancer
A meta-analysis published in the BMJ in September 2014 showed that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of premature death, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular disease.
Of course juicing removes the pulp and rind — meaning the fiber — from fruits and vegetables, so consuming juice instead of whole produce may have different effects. Fiber is an important dietary component that helps regulate your digestive tract and positively affects your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
A review published in the March 2017 issue of the International Journal of Molecular Science concluded that fruit and vegetable juices contain polyphenols and vitamins that still offer great benefit even without the fiber.
The researchers explained that fruit vegetable and juices have antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory effects and cholesterol-lowering effects. Juicing, especially when you include a variety of fruits and vegetables, can improve the function of your cardiovascular system.
Juicing is also a convenient and efficient way to use leftover produce and save a little money on groceries.
About a Juicing Diet
A juicing diet isn't a set plan. Some may follow a juice cleanse or juice detox plan, during which they drink only juice for several days or even months in an attempt to reverse chronic disease, rid the body of toxins and jump-start weight loss. In a detox or cleanse, you generally consume no other food.
Juicing can also involve supplementing a regular diet with juices. You might have juice for only one meal, and then eat a normal, balanced meal at others. Or, you might just have a glass of freshly pressed juice alongside each healthy meal. In general, you're still mindful of eating healthy, whole foods while on a juice-supplemented diet. Often, you also eliminate foods considered potentially inflammatory, such as gluten.
Whatever juicing diet you follow, the intent is to boost your health and eliminate excess waste. Your body naturally produces toxins during metabolism such as urea, lactic acid and waste products, explains the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You also build up toxins from things outside your body in the foods you eat, beverages you consume, pollution you breathe and substances you absorb through your skin.
A juice detox claims to help you become more efficient at processing natural toxins and at eliminating those you've unknowingly been exposed to in your environment. Some juicing diets include supplements or laxatives to help your body along; whether these supplements are necessary, or safe, is up for debate.
Does a Juice Cleanse Work?
The theory behind detoxing is that toxins can be potentially dangerous to human health. Your ability to detoxify efficiently depends on your environment, lifestyle, diet, health and genetics. If toxins build up and you're not efficient at eliminating them, they may be stored in fat cells, soft tissue and bone.
Not a lot of research has been done on the effectiveness of juice cleanses or detox diets in general. Many dieticians and other health experts proclaim that a juice detox plan isn't really necessary as your body has built-in detoxifying abilities. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that severely restricting calories in a diet (such as a juice fast) doesn't usually lead to lasting weight loss and can leave you deficient in nutrients and calories.
These concerns may or may not be true, depending on the plan you follow. Plus a short-term juicing diet may actually do your body good, as long as it's included in a nutritious, well-rounded eating plan.
Research published in Scientific Reports in May 2017 showed that a three-day juicing diet changed the gut microbiota for the better in 20 subjects. The people drank only fruit/vegetable juices for three days and then followed their customary diet for 14 days. The researchers observed a significant decrease in weight by day 4 (that persisted through day 17) and determined that the juicing created changes in gut microbes so they were more favorable to weight loss.
An earlier study in Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift published in May 2015 reported that problems with the gut microbiota plays a role in obesity. The subjects in this research study fasted for one week and experienced a positive improvement in their gut that was more amenable to weight loss.
Doing a Juicing Diet
Juicing involves consuming juice from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Commercially sold juice detoxes are even available if you don't want to go through the hassle of juicing yourself. If you go on such a fast for more than a day or two, check with your doctor to make sure it won't aggravate an existing condition.
If you have diabetes, for example, it's important that you carefully follow a medically recommended plan and not overeat sugar, which can happen on a juicing diet. Drinking a lot of juice can be dangerous to people who have kidney disease, too, explains the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Some juices are high in a compound known as oxalate, which can worsen kidney problems.
Also, fully vet where your juices come from if you don't press and drink your own. Juices that haven't been pasteurized may contain harmful bacteria that can cause sickness, especially in children and the elderly and in those with weakened immune systems.
If you follow a juice-supplemented diet, you'll likely remove all highly processed foods from your diet, explains the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Foods to which many people are sensitive, such as gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts and red meat, are also generally removed. Your detox diet includes lots of whole, nonglutenous grains (quinoa, rice), raw nuts and seeds and, sometimes, lean proteins such as wild-caught fish and organic chicken.
- ChooseMyPlate: "All About the Vegetable Group"
- ChooseMyPlate: "All About the Fruit Group"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vegetables and Fruits"
- The BMJ: "Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: Systematic Review and Dose-response Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies"
- Scientific Reports: "Health Benefit of Vegetable/Fruit Juice-Based Diet: Role of Microbiome"
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Effects and Mechanisms of Fruit and Vegetable Juices on Cardiovascular Diseases"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Juicing -- Fad or Fab?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables"
- Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift: "Increased Gut Microbiota Diversity and Abundance of Faecalibacterium Prausnitzii and Akkermansia After Fasting: A Pilot Study"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "What's the Deal With Detox Diets?"