The Juice is Loose!

The Juice is Loose!
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Mmmm... I can feel my colon evacuating already.

Internet health gurus and new age nitwits agree: the world is awash in harmful toxins that we ingest and absorb all day long. These ubiquitous "toxins" make us all fat and sluggish and cause nearly all of our diseases. Health is a hopeless cause while we're living our modern American lifestyle. All these chemicals and pollutants and toxic toxins are just toxicating everything, everywhere.... But wait! There's hope. Haven't you seen Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead? Juice cleanses can detoxify your body and cleanse your organs. They will slim you down and tone you up. They will alleviate all your symptoms, whatever those symptoms may be. They will cure all of your diseases, too! And make you happy and raise your IQ and get you laid and...

Hold the f*ck up. Am I really a walking toxic vessel of poison?

Short answer: No. 

The type of people who make these claims have something to sell you. They want to sell you their superfood juice cleansing system for $399. Or, they want to sell you the natural fallacy (where things from nature are inherently "good" and things man-made are inherently "bad" - even if the chemistry is exactly the same) so that you buy their other other products, like detox teas, detox capsules, herbs and tinctures.

The word detox has no meaning outside of drug overdoses or ingesting actual poison. In those cases, detoxing is necessary, whether that means diluting, inducing evacuation, or ingesting materials that help bind and absorb the poison for elimination.All of this is quantifiable in a hospital. In the case of juicers, they can never tell you what, exactly, the toxins are, how they can be measured in the body, and how they test to see if these juices actually remove them. It is all nebulous mumbo jumbo that invokes images of car exhaust, polluted rivers, pesticide spray and landfills. It is designed to make you think you are a dirty, filthy sack of slime who needs a good cleaning that only a juicer can provide. 

The truth is your skin keeps most harmful things out of your body. Your liver and your kidneys filter out the things that do manage to get in. Your gut is really good at eliminating the waste. Your lymphatic system and spleen filter out bacteria and viruses, for the most part. You are pretty well protected and filtered, naturally. There is no evidence whatsoever that drinking raw juices aids or strengthens any of these bodily organs or systems. In fact, too many vitamins and too much liquid without solids an salts, may make your body's job harder. 

How come people who juice lose weight and feel so great? 

Weight loss from a juice diet, like the one advocated in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, is caused by very low calorie consumption. Vegetables pack a lot of nutritional punch using much fewer calories than grains, meat, dairy or fat. But, the reality is you can create a calorie deficit using any food and achieve the same result. I would recommend a varied diet that includes balanced amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat instead of any diet that omits most food groups. 

As for other claims, like diabetes management, lowered cholesterol and disappearance of metabolic syndrome (the clusterfuck of having high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high triglycerides all at once), weight loss is, again, the culprit. Studies show people who manage their weight reduce the occurrence of these chronic diseases, which are linked to obesity. It's not the power of kale, it's the reduction of body fat to manageable levels. That is the most important part.  

Another thing to keep in mind is these testimonials, infomercials and documentaries are purposefully focused on short-term results. "Look at me, I lost 70 pounds and feel grrrrreat!" You don't see a few months later, when they are fat again because their crash diet crashed their metabolism and they got caught in a binge cycle because their body had been deprived for too long. And they will inevitably blame themselves,"Gee, I have to get back on the juice cleanse... I really failed." No, buddy, the juice cleanse failed you. 

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OMFG I am never taking health advice from Gweneth Paltrow ever again.

But... But... Veggies are Healthy!

Yes! They are! That's why I'm not against a juicer or two. It can be a great way to toss some much needed nutrients and fiber down the hatch without having to trouble yourself with chewing. 

Vegetables should make up a good chunk of your diet. They provide carbohydrates for energy, as well as vitamins and phytonutrients. All of this helps your body have the necessary tools to keep things running efficiently and smoothly.

Speaking of smoothly, vegetables also provide a lot of fiber. Fiber helps your gastrointestinal tract do its job, keeps the pipes clean and helps regulate cholesterol in your body. It's kind of a big deal. That is why if you do decide to juice, I'd recommend a blender-style juicer instead of one that removes all the pulp (aka, fiber - the good stuff.) 

So, is juicing worth it? 

Sure, as long as it is integrated into a proper diet. Juicing should add nutrition to your day, not be the only nutrition of your day. Eating vegetables in all their forms: cooked, raw, fresh, frozen, or blended into a cup is great for you. Just don't get the wrong idea that juicing is a diet plan or a miracle cure. Eat a variety of foods and choose a caloric plan that suits your goals. You'll achieve great results without the metabolic whack-out. 

FURTHER READING: What is Eating Clean?