Juicing has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and whilst a morning smoothie consisting of fruit and veg is a delicious and nutritious way to start the day that enables you to get your five-a-day in before noon, there have been numerous reports recently warning that juice cleanses – where the person lives on juice only for as much as five days – are dangerous.
“A lot of women and men are getting sucked into the idea that doing DIY juice fasts at home are an easy way to shift weight,” nutritionist Liz Hall tells Lumity. “They think it’s healthy because it involves fruit and veg; but often they’re going out and buying in piles of high sugar fruit – or bottles of juice made and packaged in factories – and then drinking nothing but that and eating nothing solid for days on end.
“Then they’re feeling physically and emotionally terrible, because their bodies aren’t getting essential nutrients or protein. They’re consuming very low amounts of calories, which we need to get through the day and these fasts often lead to unstable blood sugar with insulin levels rising and then crashing.
“The other problem is that the weight lost during the fast is mostly water weight anyway so it all goes back on afterwards which is demotivating, and it can kick-start a mindset of feast or famine – where food isn’t seen as nutritious fuel but is instead is seen as bad or an enemy. These fasts often become some sort of self-punishment that is dished out after enjoying a special birthday weekend or a week away on holiday. There’s nothing wrong with going out and over-indulging once in a while, and if you are going to diet the very best way of all is to eat a little bit less and move more. It’s simple science, but avoiding solid food is really not the way to lose weight. Slow and steady is the key – and weight is proven to stay off in the long-term if you do it sensibly rather than following fad diets.
“The ideal is to eat a balanced diet most of the time and remember that food is better for you when you see it as like putting essential fuel in a race car. You wouldn’t put low grade fuel in a race car, you wouldn’t run it on fumes and you wouldn’t put in petrol but no oil, you would give it the best things possible so it runs smoothly and doesn’t break down.
“All of us already have the perfect body and it would be wonderful if we focused on loving and nurturing ourselves every day, rather than being trapped in a mindset of denial and then guilt when we do eat. Enjoy a juice if you want one but it’s best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.”
Gwyneth Paltrow’s health guru Frank Lipman agrees and adds that a lot of ‘healthy’ food is packed with additives:
He says: “Juicing is a problem. Fruit juice is just one big dose of sugar. People think having a glass of orange juice in the morning is healthy. They go to a juice bar and get a juice that has 36 or 40 grams, which is 7, 8 teaspoons of sugar in it. I think granola and a lot of these health bars are pure junk.
“People also think frozen yogurt is healthy, but it’s usually full of additives and sugars and junk. I could go on and on.”
And, Lumity’s own Dr. Sara Palmer Hussey says that she’s not a fan of juice cleanses, and she believes that everything in moderation is one of the healthiest diets there is:
“Yes, if you’re using loads of fruit, they’ll be packed with pure sugar, but using just veg can be a way to get nutrients that you wouldn’t otherwise be getting as you just probably wouldn’t eat that many vegetables,” Sara explains.
“It would be good if you could, but it would involve a lot of munching. I’m principally not a fan because they don’t tend to be that delicious, especially if you’re just using vegetables.
“If you’re going to do it, I’d go for smoothies over juices as you keep the fibre. The ideal form to eat fruit and vegetables is in their whole state, but I’m sure if you make a habit of juicing or smoothing then your daily greens intake is higher than average.
“The downside is that by consuming your fruits and veggies in a juice or smoothie, you are bypassing the first phase of digestion which happens in your mouth as you’re chewing – very few people actually chew the liquid to mix it with saliva also because it is rather harsh on the teeth.
“In terms of using juicing as a “cleanse”, I’d say it’s trickier than fasting as you will spike your insulin and it will be more difficult to control your hunger on the rebound.
“I don’t like to get involved in any controversial dietary fad that can lead to an obsessive, unhealthy focus on what is considered “clean” or “cleansing”, as it puts most other non-plant foods in the “dirty” category.
“This is contrary to what have been proven to be the healthiest diets, for example the Mediterranean diet, which is based on balance and moderation, fresh produce and small amounts of what you might fancy, such as alcohol, coffee and sweets.”
Almost all of the experts we have spoken to recently advocate the 80/20 lifestyle: Where you eat a balanced diet 80% of the time and then do whatever you want 20% of the time (usually the weekend and this also doubles for skincare and exercise). This makes sense, because the general consensus is that if you deny yourself foods you crave then eventually you will cave and binge – so moderation is key.
We’d love to know your thoughts… Let us know if you’re a fan of the juicing craze or if you tried it and didn’t like it…