Erbology
Does a juice cleanse help with weight loss and liver detox?

Does a juice cleanse help with weight loss and liver detox?

Team ErbologyErbology

Juice cleanses claim to help you rid your body of harmful toxins and shed weight fast. However, the reality is that these drastic diets often do more harm than good. Luckily, there are more effective (and enjoyable!) strategies for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting your liver’s ability to detox. Here, we examine the truth about doing a juice cleanse – and recommend some wellness-boosting alternatives.

January 09, 2023 3:58 pm

What is a juice cleanse?

A juice cleanse is an extreme type of diet in which people only consume juices made from fruits and vegetables. They last for a limited period – a 3-day juice cleanse is common, but some regimens suggest a couple of weeks. Several juice cleanses also involve taking specific supplements, or having enemas and other so-called cleansing procedures.

Despite being relatively short compared to other diets, a juice cleanse often promises an astonishing array of results. In addition to quick weight loss, proponents claim you can expect to enjoy everything from increased energy to glowing skin. The idea is that a juice cleanse flushes out all sorts of toxins from the body, and instead floods it with nutrients.

Doing a juice cleanse is also said to be beneficial for your gut. This is because it supposedly gives your digestive system a break and helps it to absorb nutrients more efficiently.

With claims like these, it’s no wonder that such programmes generate a lot of interest. That and the fact that celebrities and influencers frequently endorse them using clever marketing tactics. Unfortunately though, there’s a lack of credible scientific evidence to back up the supposed benefits of juice cleanse diets.(1) Not only that, they can actually be harmful to our health.

Let’s take a closer look.

aloe vera cocktail

Are juice cleanses healthy?

The fact that a juice cleanse won’t live up to all its promises doesn’t necessarily mean it has no advantages.

Many people don’t eat as healthily as they should, and could improve their wellbeing by taking in more nutrients. Research shows that consuming highly processed foods may significantly raise your risk of a wide range of harmful conditions.(2) These include obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Drinking juices can be a quick and easy method to ensure you get a lot of vitamins and minerals. It could also help to prevent you from becoming dehydrated. Likewise, you won’t be eating unhealthy foods such as processed meat and sugary sweets on a juice cleanse. All of this is likely to improve your overall wellbeing in many ways. Indeed, studies do show that fruit and vegetable juices are good for us.(3)

However, that doesn’t mean that juices should be the only thing you consume. Rather, healthy juice cleanses are those that simply include juices as part of a balanced and nutritious diet. Moreover, juicing is not necessary to enjoy the benefits of fruits and vegetables.

One difference between eating fruit and vegetables whole and consuming them in a juice is the fiber content. Juicing removes much of the fiber by getting rid of the pulp. Some research suggests this makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients from fruit and vegetables.(4) Having said that, fiber also has health benefits of its own.(5) Therefore, it’s not something we should be eliminating from our diet.

In fact, completely cutting out solid food from your diet through a juice cleanse could actually damage your health.

bergamot cocktail

What are the risks of doing a juice cleanse?

More than being ineffective, the real concern about juice cleanses is that they can be harmful to your wellbeing.

Firstly, a juice cleanse is an extremely restricted diet. Not only is it low in calories, but it also likely contains insufficient fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This is important because these are vital for our overall health. For example, protein is key for muscle and tissue development. Meanwhile, fats are necessary for supporting our heart health and brain functions.(6) Depending on the length of the juice cleanse, it could even lead to malnutrition.

Calorie restriction might also leave you in a low mood. In addition to being hungry, you may find yourself feeling irritable and tired. This could have a knock-on effect on your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.

Another worrying factor is that doing a drastic diet like a juice cleanse can negatively impact your overall relationship with food. Research suggests that there might be a link between juice cleanses and eating disorders such as orthorexia nervosa.(7) This is a condition in which people become obsessed with healthy eating.

Even if it doesn’t lead to an eating disorder, a juice cleanse could still leave you preoccupied with food. Not only is this distracting, it may also reduce your enjoyment of social situations where meals are involved.

Looking at the evidence, it’s easy to see why juice cleanses are not advisable or sustainable in the long term. However, many people continue to be tempted to turn to them for rapid weight loss and a quick liver detox. Let’s examine each of these goals in turn.

bergamot cocktail recipe

Related reading

"Fruit and vegetable juices can be a nutritious part of your diet – but they shouldn’t be the only thing you’re consuming."

Can a juice cleanse help with weight loss?

Experts link being overweight or obese with a multitude of harmful medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.(8) Weight loss can take time and effort, so it’s understandable that people are eager to find a quick-fix solution. This is what a juice cleanse claims to offer, but is it realistic?

Unfortunately, the long-term answer is no. It’s true that restricting your calories in this way does often result in shedding some pounds. However, the reality is that such juice cleanse weight loss very rarely lasts. Research indicates that you’re highly likely to put that weight back on once you return to your normal eating habits.(9)

In fact, there’s even a chance you might gain weight after a juice cleanse. This is because severe calorie restriction can have a negative impact on your metabolism.(10) The lack of protein in a juice cleanse has the potential to lead to a reduction in lean muscle mass. This in turn may decrease your metabolism, meaning that you burn fewer calories both at rest and during activity. As such, losing weight and maintaining weight loss become more challenging.

Ultimately, the type of weight loss juice cleanse diets promise is not sustainable. Nor is it good for you. Thankfully, there are better techniques for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.

bergamot cocktail

Healthier ways to lose weight

If you’re hoping for healthy and sustainable weight loss, there are much more effective methods than a juice cleanse. The best option is to avoid any kind of fad diet. Instead, aim for a balanced and varied one that’s rich in wellness-boosting whole foods. These include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. In particular, following a plant-based diet can be a fantastic way to lose excess weight and improve your overall health.

One of the key factors to bear in mind is that your weight loss plan should be sustainable. So don’t completely cut out foods you love, or force yourself to eat things you hate. You want to reduce the amount of unhealthy food you consume, but it’s ok to allow yourself the occasional treat!

When it comes to weight loss, remember that exercise is just as important as diet. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make staying active a key part of your plan, for example through walking or yoga. In fact, exercising is beneficial for far more than losing weight. It reduces your risk of a whole host of harmful conditions. Plus, exercise improves cognitive functions, helps you sleep better, and boosts your mental health.(11) So if you’re looking for a miracle cure, this might just be it!

Yes, this approach is slower than a juice cleanse. However, it’s also far more likely to lead to healthy weight loss that you’ll be able to maintain for good. Trust us when we say that’s more than worth it!

spring rolls

Can a juice cleanse help with liver detox?

One of the other main reasons people turn to juice cleanses is to detox their liver. However, once again, the science simply doesn’t support the claim that a juice cleanse can do this.

In actuality, our bodies are extremely good at detoxifying themselves. The liver plays a key role in this process, filtering the blood and taking in any potentially toxic substances. It then either removes these from the body, or converts them into something less harmful. There’s nothing special you need to do to detoxify your liver or ensure that it can perform this function.

It’s true that drinking fruit and vegetable juices helps the liver – and other organs – to operate at their best. This is because they both hydrate you and provide an array of key vitamins and minerals. However, there is insufficient evidence to uphold the claim that a juice cleanse enhances liver detoxification.(12)

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to support the health of your liver and its ability to detoxify. It just means tha