A juice fast involves drinking juice from vegetables, fruits and herbs in an attempt to enhance the removal of toxins from your body and boost overall health. A juicer is the appliance typically used to extract the juice from these foods. During the process, the fiber is separated. However, proponents of juice fasting such as Brenda Watson, a certified nutritional consultant and author of “The Detox Strategy,” recommend not doing a juice fast for longer than three days.
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Health Benefits of Juice Fasting
Advocates of juice fasting indicate that the practice provides several benefits besides increased elimination of harmful waste and toxins. It is supposed to boost the immune system and energy levels, clear up your skin, increase metabolism to aid weight loss and improve organ function and digestive health. However, more research is needed to prove these benefits, and organizations such as the Mayo Clinic indicate that juicing or juice fasting is probably no more beneficial than eating whole fruits. Also, there are no studies to confirm the health effects of juice fasting.
Role of Different Juices
According to Watson, fruits are aggressive cleansers and help make organs and systems involved in detoxification — such as the liver — more efficient. Vegetables aid in cleansing as well, but also help rebuild your body and do not have as drastic an effect on your body during a juice fast as do fruits, explains Watson. Vegetables are lower in calories than fruits and therefore do not increase blood glucose and insulin levels to the same extreme. Herbs can also provide several benefits; for instance, dandelions are potent diuretics and thereby increase urine production and the removal of waste and toxins.
Why Your Fast Shouldn’t Be Longer
Doing a juice fast longer than three days can cause several unpleasant side effects, according to Watson. For instance, the high sugar content of a fruit juice fast increases your risk of candidiasis, a fungal infection. Symptoms of candidiasis include fatigue, headaches, allergies and digestive problems. Also, a prolonged juice fast potentially increases deficiencies in certain nutrients. Your body stores different nutrients at different rates; for instance, it can store fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E long enough to see you through a three-day juice fast. However, it needs some minerals — such as calcium — to be replaced in large amounts on a daily basis.
If you have a medical condition, do not do a juice fast of any kind without consulting your doctor. For instance, a juice fast may be problematic for people with diabetes, anemia or osteoporosis. Eliminating fiber from the juices during your fast can also lead to side effects such as constipation, diarrhea and elevated blood glucose and insulin levels. Adding back in some of the pulp after juicing the fruits, vegetables or herbs will allow you to get the fiber you need.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- “The Detox Strategy”; Brenda Watson, C.N.C.; 2008
- MayoClinic.com: Juicing: What are the Health Benefits?; Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D.; October 2010
- KidsHealth: Vitamins and Minerals
- "University of Maryland Medical Center"; Fiber; David Zieve, MD, MHA; February 2010
- Alive: The Art of Juice Fasting; Steve Parsons; March 2001