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Graduate Goodness: Is Juicing a Detox or Disaster?

Juice – full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, right? That may be, but juice – especially those made from fruit – can also be loaded with sugar, and often lack the fibre you get from eating whole pieces of fruit. This is problematic for those of us considering juice diets, or any other liquid detox, either to aid rapid weight loss or cleanse our bodies after overindulging. Many perceive these diets to be the ultimate health kick, helping to flush out “toxins” from our systems, leaving us feeling fresh and revitalised. Yet expert opinion contradicts what many of us believe to be true about juice diets. Denounced not only as fads, but also as dangerous, nutritionists and medical professionals alike have warned against replacing meals with liquid alternatives. This article will consider the health risks associated with juice diets or other liquid cleanses in the hope of drawing attention to the danger they pose to our wellbeing.

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Shape magazine claims that juice diets tend to contain around half the amount of calories than a woman would eat on a regular day – something that should send alarm bells ringing. Whilst the recommended number of calories per day – 2,000 for women – is not necessary for every women, whether they be relatively inactive or shorter than average for example, that guideline is there for a reason. Even when trying to lose weight, medical professionals rarely recommend lowering one’s intake to less than 1,300 calories per day, as this can leave you feeling lightheaded, low on energy and even blur your vision. As a rapid reduction of calories is key to most juice cleanses, we can therefore infer that this radical shock to the body – supposedly part of the miracle of detoxing – would cause us more harm than good.

Verity Woods of NetDoctor warns that “far from dewy skin and lustrous hair”, the high sugar content in juice will more likely lead to “spotty breakouts, hair loss and rotten teeth” – a look likely to catch attention for all the wrong reasons. This rapid rise in sugar consumption is especially dangerous – the Huffington Post notes how this can drastically affect blood-sugar levels. Also of concern is Woods’ precaution that the lack of nutrients fuelling the body has the potential to induce cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Thus, the perceived health benefit of juice cleanses are mere fiction, and consuming these drinks as a substitute for solid foods can have detrimental consequences on our health.

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For those that enjoy the occasional juice however, there is nothing to be scared of. Juice cleanses are much more radical than consuming the odd smoothie every once in a while. Juices aren’t inherently bad, and ones loaded with vegetables in particular (due to their lower sugar content) can give us a boost of much-needed vitamins and minerals. Expert advice warns against replacing solid food with these liquid substitutes for long periods of time. As has been proven, quick weight-loss fixes do not work in the long-term, and we could be doing our bodies immense damage if we take away vital proteins and complex carbohydrates from our daily diets in the process of undergoing a juice cleanse.

Third year history student at the University of Bristol.
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