ANDERSON — The latest juicing craze boasts healthier living, but misconceptions about cleanses could leave drinkers malnourished.
With companies like Life Juice, BluePrint and Clean Cleanse growing in popularity, more people are buying into juice products that promise to wash away impurities in their bodies by fasting.
A typical program lasts days, or even weeks. Consumers eliminate solid foods and drink – often organic – fruit and vegetable juices throughout the day.
Many believe, and the companies promote, that the juices contribute to cleaner living and flushing out toxins in the body.
But Dustin Reed, lead nutritionist at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, said some nutritional deficiencies can occur within a few days.
“Several of the juice recipes I researched did not have fiber as part of their content and were high in refined sugars, which is sugar added to the product for taste,” he said in an email. “This could potentially lead to cravings and overeating.”
Reed said anytime people consider making major diet changes, they should consult their doctor and a dietitian to create a meal plan. He also said some products and programs don’t include important nutritional facts in their descriptions.
Juice cleanses often cause a lack of fiber in the body, which juice company BluePrint argues is a good thing on its website.
It says while fiber is normally great for moving things through people’s systems, the company wants to “reduce this burden” to give the body and digestive tract a break from having to break down solid food so energy can be saved and transferred during the cleanse.
But a lack of fiber and protein can cause someone to become malnourished, said Danielle Drake, a dietetic intern at Community Hospital Anderson.
“When it comes to detoxifying your body, can a cleanse do that? Yes,” she said. “Is it the healthiest option? No.”
Cleanses can help people feel better and think more clearly, Drake said, but they can also feel those benefits by adding artichoke or other green vegetables to their diets.
In fact, juices can help people get their intake of fruits and vegetables, especially for those who aren’t fond of the taste, Drake said. The problem lies when people don’t realize how much they’re consuming, they’re relying solely on the juices, and food in liquid form doesn’t fill people up as much.
Juices shouldn’t be substituted as beverages, and converting fruits and vegetables into liquids can alter their nutritional value. The skin and seeds contain a lot of nutrients, Drake said, so if people don’t include them then they’re missing out. One alternative is to use the pulp in other foods like muffins, broths or soups instead of throwing it out.
Ultimately, Drake doesn’t think juicing will be popular for much longer.
“I feel like it’s one of those fad diet things that people would like to try things,” she said, “but I don’t think it’s something they will continue to do the rest of their lives.”
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