The ABCs of Juice Cleansing

Benefits and Pros

Why do you want to do a juice cleanse? Are you looking to lose weight or "detoxify" your body? For some people, doing a juice cleanse can help shift them away from bad habits, such as drinking too much coffee or alcohol or eating too many fatty foods. Doing a juice cleanse for a few days can help some people to focus on healthier eating habits after they have finished the cleanse.
Other proponents for juice cleansing claim that this process will help enhance the immune system and prevent a variety of medical conditions. If you search the Internet, you may find claims that juice cleanses can provide "glowing good health." Some of these proponents state that juices' nutrients can help correct the imbalances that can occur in the body's cell composition caused by "unnatural" foods. Also, juicing is claimed to be a way to add more plant-derived nutrients to a person's usual diet.

Cons and Costs

While juice cleansing may have some benefits, do the pros really outweigh the cons? Will these cleanses help you lose weight and keep it off? Does a person really need to do a "detox" diet?
Do Juice Cleanses Lead to Weight Loss?
Let's break this down. If you are doing a juice cleanse for weight loss, you may notice that after a few days of juicing you have dropped a few pounds. However, you are likely losing muscle and water. Research has shown that this method of extreme dieting will likely result in the weight being put right back on once you stop the diet.
Research studies have shown that slow and steady wins the race over diets that produce fast weight loss, such as juice cleanses. The best way to lose weight is slowly, with a weight loss of one to two pounds per week. This amount is doable, safe, and may help you keep the weight off. Losing weight slowly like this is also a good way to help give you the time to effectively make healthy lifestyle changes.
While it may be nice to drop a few pounds in a matter of a few short days, if you are looking for long-term weight loss, you are probably better off eating a healthy diet of lean proteins, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in combination with a regular exercise program.
What About the "Detoxification" Aspect?
Now the next question: Does a person really need to detoxify their body using a juice cleanse? Some proponents claim that juice cleansing helps rid the body of toxins that are deposited in muscles, joints, glands, and cells. Juice cleansing is said to help cleanse the colon and improve the function of the digestive system.
However, there isn't much scientific evidence that proves your body even needs to be "detoxified." In fact, many healthcare providers may tell you that the human body does not need any help in getting rid of toxins, as your organs and immune system are specifically made just for that purpose and will sufficiently handle that job, regardless of what you eat.
There is also no scientific proof that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods. If you are looking for a way to "detoxify," you may want to look into "clean" eating, which focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains -- so basically foods that do not go through a lot of processing. This form of eating will also help to give you long-lasting weight loss results, particularly if you add regular physical activity into the mix.
If you research "juice cleansing" on the Internet, you may find claims that these cleanses help to "give the digestive system a break." One thing to consider when you are juicing is the fact that when you extract the juice, the fiber-containing pulp from the fruits and vegetables is removed. This results in less fiber intake. Although these claims that giving your digestive system a break may sound appealing, the reality is that fiber is a necessary component to help with digestion.
Does Juice Cleansing Present Any Risks?
Are juice cleanses safe? This depends largely on how long you will be staying on your cleanse. Many people may experience hunger, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. Overuse of juicing can also lead to severe diarrhea, which is sometimes claimed to be the "cleansing of the toxins."
While doing a juice cleanse for a few days may not be particularly worrisome, if you are going to be doing it for an extended time, there are some things you need to consider. First, by consuming only fruit and vegetable juice, you will not be getting sufficient protein. When this happens, your body will start to kick into starvation mode. As a result, your body will start to break down muscle to help provide that energy it needs.  
Your thyroid may also be affected, as depriving yourself of food may cause your thyroid to slow down to help conserve the energy your body needs, thus slowing down your metabolism. Once you are done with the cleanse, you may notice that the pounds return quickly, as your metabolism has been too low to burn a normal intake of calories.
Understanding the Costs
There's not a lot to "eat" on this diet, so doing your own juicing at home is likely to result in a simple shopping list. However, you may have to pull out your wallet for a good juicer. A number of juicers are available, some of which can be quite expensive. Picking a less expensive juicer may result in less juice, which can wind up costing you more in the end because you will have to buy more fruits and vegetables to get enough juice each day. Some of the middle-of-the-road juicers run around $100 to $150.
You can also buy the juice cleanses that come in already-prepared bottles. However, beware that these products can cost from around $30 a day, on average, up to well over $200 a day.
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