Hey everyone! I’m going to start addressing nutrition FAQs more often here on the blog space. I sometimes ask for your FAQs on Instagram and I promise I screenshot every response and will slowly work through them. Today I want to address juice cleanses. I get asked “should I do a juice cleanse?” pretty regularly and feel it’s worth touching upon. And also, for all you celery-curious people, please note I am working on an entire separate post devoted to celery juice coming soon.
And in case you didn’t know, as of next year I will be shifting my academic focus back to nutrition, and I’m excited! I have loved my environmental health science and public health degree and will always strive to integrate and apply them to my nutrition studies, but at the same time, I’m pumped to get back to the nitty gritty of nutrition science!
For now, please enjoy a brief overview of why I don’t recommend juice cleansing.
Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy, non-pregnant or breastfeeding adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.
1. There is very little scientific evidence to support the alleged health claims.
Companies frequently take advantage of well-intending vulnerable people who are simply looking to improve their health by using sexy health words such as ‘detox,’ ‘cleanse,’ and ‘pure,’ and by promising things like weight-loss. Yet, there is very little science to support the claims they make.
In fact, some studies suggest they may be dangerous for those with kidney disease due to the high level of oxalates. Does this mean that drinking juice occasionally is terrible for most healthy people? No. It does not. But if you have kidney issues, juicing may do more harm than good.
The only study I have been able to find that supports the use of a juice cleanse was this study, which suggested it may change the microbiome…but this study used a small sample size and results were not sustained 3 weeks later upon resumption of normal diet. Also, I’m just going to point out the obvious here – of course when you take subjects who consume little fruits and vegetables and completely change their diet their microbiome will change! But this doesn’t mean juice is a magic bullet. I would have been curious to see how a diet of whole fruits and vegetables changed the microbiome of subjects as a comparison, but that wasn’t included. The only sustained change was a self-reported ‘wellness score,’ which the authors didn’t care to define.
…And that was the best study I could find! There is no evidence for any other tangible health benefits. I couldn’t find any studies that suggest they benefit they lead to any long-term health benefits. Weight-loss may occur, but usually isn’t sustained upon resumption of eating a normal diet.
2. Juicing doesn’t ‘detox’ your body. Your liver and your kidney do that for you.
I don’t know how many times I say this, but just in case you haven’t heard me scream it out-loud enough times: you do not need any pills, teas, vitamins, supplements, or cleanses to ‘detox’ your body. Your livers and your kidney do a great job of removing toxins that are possible for you to remove. There is no evidence that any food or dietary supplement detoxifies your body in any way.