Juice cleanses are a process of extracting and consuming concentrates juices from vegetables and fruit to reduce systemic inflammation through the intake of antioxidants and essential vitamins (1).
The juicing process usually strips 90% or more of the solid matter, including seeds and pulp, from whole fruits and vegetables. The result is an ultra-concentrated form of the fruit or vegetable. There are two types of juicing methods: centrifugal and cold press. Cold-press juicers are the preferred method because they don’t produce heat – so they do not cause the breakdown of beneficial enzymes and nutrients that is thought to happen with centrifugal juicers.
Juice cleanses can be used to supplement or diet or as a multi-day cleanse from solid food to help your body detoxify. As healthy as juicing can be, it is not for everybody. Juice cleanses can come with some serious side effects if you are only used to a more standard diet.
1Juice cleanses can help you lose weight. The method behind this is simple: people who go on juice diets take in fewer calories, proteins, and carbohydrates. As such, losing weight is easy, especially if one maintains a normal level of physical exertion so as to expend the same amount of calories (2).
Furthermore, taking in fewer carbohydrates and fewer fats has been linked to weight loss in no uncertain terms (3).
In other words, going for that extra glass of juice rather than a large bag of potato chips or a chocolate cake is one easy way to lose weight. Combining whole fruit and 100% natural juice in a comprehensive diet has been linked to similar levels of essential nutrients as a more carbohydrate or protein-focused diet, but without the additional calories (4).
2Juice cleanses can increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. If you’re the kind of person who normally finds it hard to get enough fruits and vegetables in your diet, then juicing is one relatively easy, delicious way to do so. It’s just easier (5).
It can be cost-effective, and it can allow some people to get a more robust dietary intake of essential micronutrients such as calcium or vitamin D, which may be hard or impossible to get without fruit and vegetables (6).
3Juice cleanses are a great way to get essential vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D. Vitamin C, for instance, which is found in many common fruits, is essential for many of the connective tissues and organs in your body. A 2013 study showed it helps to maintain healthy gums, and it’s partly responsible for healing any wounds on your body, like normal cuts or scrapes (7).
Vitamin D is equally as prevalent in fruits (especially apples and grapes) and equally as important. A 2012 study showed that it’s critical for bone formation, mental health, and the prevention of chronic diseases (8).
4Juice cleanses help to avoid bloating and gas. Bloating is a complex health problem, characterized mainly to be sensations, and it’s not necessarily as well understood as more clear-cut conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. However, fibers (like the kind contained in fruits and vegetables) are one possible cause of bloating, gas, and an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach (9).
As such, juice cleanses is one way to get the vitamin and mineral benefits of such foods without fiber if your body doesn’t tend to tolerate it very well.
5Many juice cleanses contain antioxidants which can help fight against inflammation. This effect manifests in a number of ways. Drinking fruit juices, has been linked with better cardiovascular health. One study from 2017 in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that drinking fruit juices could legitimately improve cardiovascular health due to the vitamins, minerals, and lack of cholesterol found in such drinks (10).
And one study from 2014 actually found evidence that suggested juice cleanses may increase the phytochemical content normally found in fruit, somehow boosting its antioxidant capabilities (11).
A juice cleanse is one great way to add antioxidants to your diet, mostly without negative consequences.
6Juice cleanses can help kick colds and supercharge the immune system. Vitamin C deficiency has been shown to lead to a decrease in immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. A 2017 study showed that it’s important not only to your skin’s barrier against pathogens on the outside but also to lymphocytes (the cells in your body that function as your immune system) and fighting oxidative stress (12).
Vitamin D is also present in many immune cell types, such as T-cells, B-cells, and monocytes. A 2013 study showed that vitamin D supplementation may lead to a more functional immune system, especially in patients who are already deficient (13).
7Juice cleanses may improve your digestive system’s function. Some kinds of fruits may help your body digest other foods, like carbohydrates and proteins. Kiwifruit extract, for example, has been shown to be able to digest proteins in foods like yogurt, cheese, and fish (14).
Juicing tends to reduce fiber intake and help with bloating, so your stomach may have two reasons at once to start feeling better.
8Juice cleanses can be a great quick pre-workout option. Working out after eating a large meal without giving your body time to digest can easily lead to nausea, vomiting, and other IBS like issues (15).
However, if you’re only taking in juices, which contain vitamins but don’t have the fibers or proteins or carbohydrates found in the whole fruits themselves, then you’ll likely be able to work out more quickly after that glass of juice than you would be after a plate of regular fruit.
9 Juice cleanses can help build strong bones. Vitamin D is critically important for bone health in both children and adults. Not only does it prevent chronic bone diseases like osteoporosis, but it also helps your body build normal, strong, dense bones (16).
Administering high doses of vitamin D has been shown to improve both bone mass and strength in mice during animal trials (17).
Juicing, which is one great way to get vitamin D, could help you build a stronger skeletal system if you usually find it hard to get vitamin D, as sometimes happens during rainy seasons or in cool, overcast environments (18).
10Juice cleanses can help with weight loss by reducing caloric intake. To lose weight, you must maintain a calorie deficit, which means you consume fewer calories than you burn (19).
Juice diets tend to be very low in calories, and the resulting calorie deficit may lead to rapid weight loss.
11Some juice cleanses may help reduce arthritis pain. Researchers have studied cherries for their possible anti-inflammatory properties.
In a 2013 double-blind crossover study published in the journal Osteoarthritis Cartilage, cherry juice was found to help knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis (20).
Another 2012 study published in the Journal of Food Studies examined women ages 40 to 70 who drank cherry juice. They reported that tart cherry juice may help reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis as well as decrease pain and inflammation than those who received a placebo. (21).
12Some juice cleanses may help reduce inflammation. A 2009 study published in Nutrition Journal found that mangosteen juice reduced inflammation in people who were overweight or obese (21).
1Juice cleanses are much lower in calories than traditional foods, which could lead to low nutrition. A juice cleanse is a great way to lose weight. However, that weight loss does come at a concrete price in terms of the loss of calories. How well it is tolerated may vary from individual to individual, but if a juice cleanse is taken to an extreme it could lead to symptoms of malnutrition, such as dizziness, malaise (weakness), headaches, and extreme hunger. Juice cleanses may have a link to some eating disorders because of the way they deprive the body of fibers, proteins, and the like (22).
As such, anybody who starts a juice cleanse should take it slow until their body is totally used to it. Furthermore, if you start experiencing any more severe symptoms, such as extreme headaches or bouts of extreme hunger, start eating regular food and call your doctor if the symptoms don’t go away, as it could be a sign of dangerously low blood sugar.
2Juice cleanses might not be great for those who suffer from kidney conditions, as some juices contain oxalate, which can lead to kidney stones. While some juices (like lemon juice) might help prevent kidney stones, which are made of calcium oxalate, others have no effect and might even make it easier to for you to get them (23).
Large doses of vitamin C and calcium, which are found in many fruits and vegetables commonly used in juices, have been linked with a higher rate of kidney stone formation (24).
Orange juice, however, seems to be a safe choice that doesn’t affect the formation of the crystals that lead to kidney stones (25).
In any case, users who suffer from some kind of kidney condition or who are worried about kidney stones should contact their doctor before starting to juice regularly.
3Juice cleanses can cause hunger pangs. Since juice-only diets lack solid foods, you might find yourself feeling hungrier than usual when following this type of regimen.
The reason for this is because liquid meals are less filling than solid foods, especially when they are high in carbs In one study, 20 normal-weight adults and 20 overweight adults were each given 300 calories worth of apple, apple sauce or apple juice with a meal or as a snack (26).
Those who drank the apple juice were less full than those who ate the solid foods. They also ended up hungry again earlier than the others.
Solid foods are more filling because they contain fiber and protein, which are both important nutrients that have appetite-reducing properties.
4Juice cleanses loses a lot of the plant’s natural benefits. Up to 90% of fiber is removed during the juicing process, depending on the juicer and important antioxidants that are naturally bound to plant fibers are lost in the juicing process. These may play an important role in the health benefits of whole fruits and vegetables (27).
Removing them via a juice cleanse may offset the benefits.
5Juice cleanses may not protect against disease as well as eating the whole fruit or vegetable.There’s plenty of evidence linking whole fruits and vegetables to a reduced risk of disease, but studies for fruit and vegetable juices are harder to find.
6Juice cleanses may damage your metabolism. The severe calorie deficit that many juice diets cause can have a destructive effect on your metabolism. In one study, overweight and obese women underwent a calorie restriction treatment for three months. They experienced a significant reduction in resting energy expenditure over that period (28).
7Juice cleanses can contribute to metabolic syndrome. Consuming 100% fruit juice has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, liver damage, and obesity (29).
8Juice cleanses can increase the number of toxins in your body. If you’re juicing with non-organic vegetables, you can end up consuming other toxins that come along with them, such as pesticides.
The recommended dosage varies, but most people only need to consume 2-3 servings of fruit per day, which is really only a couple of pieces of fruit (30).
Overconsumption of fruit juices could spike your blood sugar without providing the fiber and calories your body needs to function properly, so having more than a couple of glasses per day is not recommended.
Is a juice cleanse safe? Juice cleanses are totally safe — when done in moderation, that is. As long as the juice cleanse isn’t taking to an extreme, it’s safe and in fact, it is actually incredibly healthy for you. You will probably up your fruit and vegetable intake dramatically, increasing the amount of vitamins in your body and cutting down on the processed foods and carbohydrates which all to often lead to weight gains and ineffective workouts.
That said, the opposite is true if you don’t pay attention and you take a juice cleanse too far. You may cut down on your calorie content too much, leading to low blood sugar or anemia. Furthermore, juicing deprives you of the fiber content normally found in fruits and vegetables. As such, anybody who is on a juice cleanse should still keep a careful monitor on how much of it they’re doing and how their body responds. Even juicers need some intake of normal food to round out their diet — not doing so could be downright dangerous.
Can pregnant women engage in juice cleanses? There’s nothing wrong with having a little juice when pregnant, but pregnant women should be careful not to take juicing too far, as it could lead to malnutrition. Pregnancy comes with a cost in terms of calories, as the fetus needs to be nourished and grown. While research shows that women don’t need to overeat while they’re pregnant, they certainly shouldn’t undereat or try to go on an extreme diet, as it could harm the development of their baby.
Can I substitute juices for a normal meal? Substituting juices for your typical breakfast, lunch or dinner may work in moderation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s recommended, as getting those three square meals a day is likely more important than most people think. According to a 2018 study, regular and well-balanced breakfast habits are a crucial factor in preventing obesity in schoolchildren (31).
Skipping meals such as breakfast for a glass of juice instead may indeed be easy, but it can lead to more hunger and larger meals throughout the day, which might just outweigh the potential benefits of such a diet. And eating a good-quality breakfast may be important not just to the human body’s dietary needs, but also mental health and the prevention of conditions like depression and anxiety.
Will a juice cleanse interfere with any medication that I’m taking? Though most people might not think so, a higher-than-average juice intake could very well interfere with medication that you’re taking for some other condition. Taking in juices while on medication can increase or decrease the bioavailability of some compounds, leading to dangerous consequences, according to a 2018 study (32).
In other words, while juices are usually harmless, if you’re taking some special medicine, juices may make that medicine more powerful or weaker when taken together, which could result either in unpleasant side effects or in the given medicine not doing its job properly. This is especially true for grapefruit juice, which can have fairly extreme effects on your metabolism and the way your body absorbs certain drugs. As such, anybody already on medication should be careful to consult a health professional before juicing, as it could lead to unexpected outcomes in combination with prescribed or over the counter medicines.
If I start a juice cleanse, should I inform my doctor? Yes, depending on to what extent one is juicing. If you’re only taking one or two glasses of juice a day and using it as a stand-in for more unhealthy snacks, you’re probably well within a normal consumption range for juice’s fruits and vitamins, and likely don’t need to worry about any drug interactions or unpleasant side effects. However, if one starts substituting juice for regular meals or consuming more than just a few glasses a day, a health professional should be consulted.
For one, too much juicing could be unhealthy for your body, lowering caloric content and fiber intake. As mentioned above, it may also interfere with any medication being taken, and it could lead to some unpleasant side effects as well. Potential juicers should, for the most part, have a conversation with their doctor to determine if it is a good dietary choice for them and their needs.
Can children start a juice cleanse? Children can indeed start juicing, and in fact, giving a child a glass or two of blended juice a day along with regular meals is almost definitely much healthier than giving a child nothing but proteins and carbohydrates. However, while a juice cleanse may be an effective diet plan, it’s probably not the best idea for children who are still growing, as it could certainly lead to malnutrition if not done properly. Furthermore, many fruit-based juices are high in sugar, which in children could simply lead to obesity and weight gain, which is exactly what most juicers are trying to avoid.
What are the best fruits to put in a juice cleanse for maximum benefits? The best fruits to put in a juice will depend mostly on what benefits is it exactly that you’re trying to get as a result of a juice cleanse. However, some baseline suggestions are simple enough. Including citrus fruits, for example, such as oranges, will lead to benefits associated with high antioxidant content, like fighting inflammation. Citrus fruits may even have some antimicrobial properties as well, and they may help your body fight off infections in a pinch.
Another great inclusion is apples. They have a lot of phytochemicals in them, which means that they are particularly rich in antioxidants. As such, including apples in your juicing may help fight against chronic disease, improve your cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of conditions like asthma and diabetes (33).
If I’m juicing, how do I get enough calories and protein? The answer is simple: include other calories and proteins in your diet. While juicing is a great way to stay healthy, the human body needs a well-rounded diet (i.e., not exclusively fresh-squeezed fruit juices) in order to function properly (34).
Despite how hyped you may be on your new juicing machine and those delicious, brightly colored concoctions, remember to include standard proteins and even some carbohydrates in your diet as well. It’s possible to get the weight loss and antioxidant benefits of juice cleanses while still retaining some elements of a normal diet as well.
Overall, juice cleanses have a plethora of benefits to offer, which isn’t exactly surprising, considering what juices are made of. If you start to regularly consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, it’s natural that your body will start feeling better. You might end up helping your body fight off inflammation and sickness while increasing your body’s vitamin content and getting the fruits and vegetables that are a part of a healthy diet.
New juicers, however, should be careful not to overdo it, as too much juicing can lead to symptoms of low blood sugar and a calorie deficit, as well as possibly interfere with certain kidney conditions if taken to an extreme. Even the most dedicated juicers need to include some regular food as a part of their diet to get the nutrients and minerals that their bodies need to function.