Charlotte Hannah
July 02, 2013

Actual Doctors Declare Juice Cleanses to Be BS

Juice cleanses – huuuahh! – what are they good for? Absolutely nothing!

So say endocrinologist Dr. David Heber, gastroenterologist Dr. Roshini Raj and other experts, all of whom have declared the juice cleanse fad to be pretty much a huge crock.

Purveyors of these often-pricey juice cleanses claim the trendy diet can do everything from helping you lose weight and “unleashing the natural healing power of the body” (whatever that means) to ridding your body of “toxins” — though it’s never really explained what a toxin is.

If this special system for flushing your body of vaguely defined bad things that are definitely killing you sounds like just the magic quick fix you didn’t know you were waiting for, you’re not alone. TODAY reports that, with the help of celebrity endorsements from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek, juice cleanses have become a $5-billion industry.

Unfortunately, according to medical professionals whose walls are covered in degrees from institutes of higher learning and not extensive collections of healing crystals, cleansing is unnecessary at best, and at worst, harmful.

There’s no way

“There’s no way that a three-day detox diet is going to remove toxins that you may or may not have in your body,” says actual doctor Dr. David Heber.

“It’s very temporary water weight that you’re losing so it’s not going to persist,” adds actual doctor Dr. Roshini Raj. “You’re going to eat more later because you’re hungrier.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Registered dietician and practicing physician Christine Gerbstadt agrees, adding that a lengthy period of cleansing may cause the body to enter starvation mode, meaning that when you start eating real food again, your body will pack those calories away for the next time you hop on a stupid fad diet – meaning you’re likely to gain weight. LOL!

Oh, not to mention that, as Lizzie Crocker at the Daily Beast helpfully points out, some cleanses (including BluePrint’s popular Renovation cleanse) contain levels of sugar well beyond what medical professionals recommend. Isn’t refined sugar one of those toxins we’re supposed to be flushing out with our magic vegetable water? I’m so confused!

Doctors also warn cleanses may be dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions, and can also affect the body’s ability to absorb prescription medication … so there’s that.

Natural detox is built in

There’s nothing wrong with juicing or drinking smoothies, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, or reducing your consumption of highly processed foods.

The problem is in thinking the body can or should be “cleansed” of so-called toxins through the consumption of a lot of just one thing, or that doing so is a healthy or sustainable path to weight loss. Most bodies contain these neat organs called the liver and kidneys that can handle the whole detoxing thing just fine, thanks.

“The body has [a] natural detox system built in. It processes alcohol and cleans your system itself. But you can aid it — keeping properly hydrated and eating lots of fiber are the keys,” says registered dietitian Priya Tew.

Wait, so what you’re saying is that optimal health is achieved over time and through such sensible measures as keeping hydrated, getting lots of fiber and eating a balanced diet? That’s not what my friend’s sister’s chiropractor’s snake oil salesman says.