The more of something you have, the more you want. This holds true of so many things in life; the good, the bad…and the juicy. Recently, I was interviewed on the national television show “The List” by Teresa Strasser about the benefits of drinking juices made from veggies, fruits, and herbs and how to approach starting a “juice cleanse”. Click here to watch the segment.
I’m a huge fan of eating lots of plant foods, but drinking juices made from plant foods can deliver a load of vitamins and minerals, too. Juices based mainly on vegetables and herbs – and to lesser extent, fruit (which in the form of juice can contain more sugar than we need) – are wonderfully tasty, refreshing, and nutritious beverages.
I am a fan of including juices based mainly on veggies into a regular diet of solid foods. The flavors of a beet-ginger juice, or a carrot juice, or a juice made from fresh, leafy greens, can be unexpectedly, assertively delicious! People who don’t think they like vegetables frequently develop an affinity for them after becoming accustomed to them in the form of juice.
There is no biological need to go on a juice cleanse, but many people enjoy the temporary break from their regular eating habits, which are often excessive and unstructured. And it’s no wonder – just look at how our food environment is constantly promoting high-calorie, high-saturated fat, high-added sugar, high-sodium foods and our food culture that encourages overeating and eating in the absence of hunger!
That break, or re-set, can be just what some people need to re-program their eating habits to eat more plant foods, to pay attention to internal hunger cues, to become aware of internal fullness or satiety signals, to drink more liquids, and to enjoy the naturally intense and multi-dimensional flavors of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
There are many groups of people who should not go on a juice cleanse, however. Anyone with a chronic health condition (e.g. diabetes, thyroid, renal), on a prescription medication (e.g. blood-thinner, statin), with a history of restrictive dieting, disordered eating, or eating disorders, or who is under stress, should not start a juice cleanse.
Generally, I do not recommend a diet that consists of exclusively juice for longer than a day or two because it will not meet people’s needs for protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and fiber without also going overboard on calories. Juices that incorporate protein in the form of yogurt, cow’s milk, and plant-based milks (maybe these are more accurately called smoothies) may meet nutritional needs, but it’s still best to think of juicing as a short-term regimen.
Stay focused on adding whole veggies, fruits, and herbs into your balanced diet, and enjoy juices as supplements to your healthy lifestyle!