Juice cleansing - healthy or harmful?
Is juice cleansing healthy? What’s behind this lifestyle trend?
Stars like Heidi Klum have set an example by doing it, and more and more People are taking part: "Juice cleansing" is a big lifestyle trend and is often associated with positive effects on the body. Many People do a so-called “springtime juice cleanse”, especially now at the start of the year. All kinds of juice cleansing are not only used as the "detoxing" method of choice, but also as a tried-and-tested aid for losing weight.
But what's really behind the hype? Is juice cleansing healthy? Or even harmful? If you’re interested in the scientific basis behind juice cleansing, you’ll quickly come across some interesting facts and debunked myths.
Juice cleansing - what's behind it?
Juice cleansing is very simple in principle. Only the juice of fruits, vegetables or herbs is consumed in place of solid food. The length of this depends on the individual and usually lasts three days, five days or on rare occasions, up to seven days. The idea behind juice cleansing is to give the body time to "detoxify" – i.e. to rid itself of existing toxins. In addition, the juices provide the body with many vitamins and trace elements, which can have a positive effect on health.
Farid Zitoun, Institute Manager at Bottrop’s Center for Naturopathy, has a particularly positive view of this trend: "The topic of juice cleansing is very interesting from a health-related perspective, but it’s also often glorified. The fact is - and even accredited institutions say this - that juice cleansing can have a positive impact on health and well-being."
Detoxing with juice cleansing - healthy or harmful?
Zitoun refers, among other things, to a recent assessment by the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) on the topic of juice cleansing: https://www.dge.de/ernaehrungspraxis/diaeten-fasten/entgiftungsdiaeten/
Although the DGE mentions that the source material is rather sparse, the existing studies indicate that juice cleansing can at least have a positive influence on body weight and insulin resistance. In addition, the juices themselves often contain many vitamins and trace elements that are important for the body. The positive effects of various juices have been documented in numerous studies. For example, one Australian study, among others, found that beetroot juice has a blood-pressure-lowering effect (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23231777).
In general, most juices get their health-boosting effects from the fruits, vegetables or herbs from which they are made. The only requirement for this is that the juice must be carefully extracted without excessive heating.
Organic juice cleansing – what is detoxing all about?
While juice cleansing can have positive effects from a health-related perspective, Farid Zitoun also points out that there are some misunderstandings which many associate with the topic: "There’s often a lot of nonsense when it comes to juice cleansing. Most frequently, for example, I hear about so-called "waste products", which would accumulate in the body and then dissolve as part of a juice cleanse. From a scientific point of view, this is not entirely true. Our bodies always detoxify themselves; that’s what, e.g. the liver and kidneys are there for. However, recent research has also shown that foregoing food can help our cells to dispose of the internal 'waste collection'."
The naturopath is alluding to so-called “autophagy” here, which constitutes a self-cleaning process of each cell to a certain extent. This mechanism is blocked by insulin, which is why regular eating breaks can have an effect, as reported by Stern magazine, among others: https://www.stern.de/gesundheit/intervallfasten--wie-gesund-ist-der-trend--6748894.html.
Vegetable juice cleansing: juices for healthy organic juice cleansing
It’s therefore best to rely mostly on vegetable juices, which do not contain as much sugar as fruit juices, if you want to experience the maximum positive effects for yourself. Ultimately, however, the focus should always be on your own well-being. For Farid Zitoun, juice cleansing in springtime has long been an important ritual: "For me, a springtime juice cleanse is simply part of making me feel good. To me, it feels like inner spring cleaning."
However, the complementary-medicine practitioner also warns about possible dangers: "Juice cleansing can be dangerous for some groups of People, such as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or People with heart or kidney problems. Therefore, anyone who is thinking about doing it should first consult a competent and expert naturopath or doctor."
Zitoun goes into more detail together with his Bottrop-based colleague Christian Rüger in the new video on the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop YouTube channel. In addition, guest author Klaus Menner also gives some practical tips on juice cleansing for weight loss in the blog section.