Juice Detox Has Controversial Benefits

We all suffer occasionally from bouts of too many cafeteria hashbrowns, and while some students have responded admirably by adopting healthier ...

We all suffer occasionally from bouts of too many cafeteria hashbrowns, and while some students have responded admirably by adopting healthier lifestyle choices, some among us have begun, somewhat paradoxically, to take a more extreme route — juice cleanses.
Juice cleanses are quickly becoming a fad diet. The idea is that by restricting caloric intake to fruit, vegetable, and nut juices, a user will flush so-called toxins out of his or her system, leaving the body healthier and more energized. The length of a juice cleanse can vary; many people start with only three days, going up to a week to ten days. A very few manage to make it even longer without solid food — one man chronicled his 60-day cleanse in a documentary film, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, He claims that going on the cleanse helped him shed weight and even cleared a skin condition for which he had previously needed to take heavy medication.
Facing Sama Dining ennui, a group of students recently attempted a three-day juice cleanse, drinking green, beet and carrot-apple juices. However, only one student, NYU New York senior Dylan Maurer, successfully completed his three days.
“Over J-term I was just hanging out, pretty bored,” he explained. “I was like, why not do a juice cleanse before classes start?”
Maurer based his diet off the Blueprint Cleanse, a program in which cleansers normally buy a series of pre-bottled juices. Maurer, however, made the juices himself. While the cleanse was difficult, Maurer said that it felt great post-cleanse.
“[It made me] more aware of my eating habits,” he said.
While he is back on solid food now, Maurer said that he finds it easier to make healthier choices and feels he is still more aware of what his body wants and needs for nourishment.
NYU Abu Dhabi’s nutritional consultant Mary Dye has a different take on the trend.
“There has been no research to find a benefit to doing a juice cleanse,” she explained. “What we find when people go on these cleanses . . . [is that] your body’s so malnourished while it’s only receiving carbohydrates . . . you’re not getting those other macronutrients.”
In fact, rather than benefiting cleansers, Dye warns that it can cause significant harm, as juice cleansing lowers one’s metabolic rate, resulting in rapid weight gain when solid foods are reintroduced. It also reduces the good bacteria present in our intestines, causes rapid shifts in blood sugar levels and can lead to digestive issues. One juice cleanse may be easy to bounce back from, but she cautions that regular or extended cleansing could have a profoundly negative impact on the body, causing problems for the pancreas, muscle loss and even brain atrophy. She said that those who complete their cleanses likely feel positive because they were on a high-sugar diet for three days, they feel lighter and they would not have had to think about their diet since starting the cleanse.
Yet Maurer remained unperturbed by criticism of his three-day juice diet.
“Ultimately, I felt great after my juice cleanse. I had fewer cravings for sugar and caffeine and knew that my body would respond better to the better foods I started to feed it ... Since the cleanse, I have been choosing to eat healthy foods more often, and that was the goal of my cleanse.”
Evidence in favor of juice cleansing is primarily anecdotal, and there is little scientific data supporting their nutritional value. In the end, if you’re considering major changes to your diet, the best route is likely to consult with a nutritionist. Dye is NYUAD’s official nutritionist, and while she works from Florida, the Health and Wellness Centre is more than happy to help any interested students set up Skype meetings with her.
Carmen Germaine is a staff writer. Email her at
Contributing reporting by Julia Saubier. Email her at
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