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The Juice in Juice Cleanses

What you need to know before you go on a juicing kick
By Karen Kwan

 

The fresh spring weather eggs many of us on to get a fresh start—not only in our homes but for our bodies, too. One of the most popular ways to detox our bodies from the inside out: juice cleansing; those ubiquitous glass bottles of green, black, orange, red and murky liquids, inescapable on Instagram. Living on a diet of only these juices and nut milks for anywhere from one day to a week, and for some folks even longer, is said to help rid the body from the overload of toxins it has to deal with from our sometimes trans fat-filled, salty, sugary modern-day diet.

 

Cleanses, though, are not for everyone. “It totally depends on the person,” says holistic nutritionist Aly Shoom. “If you’re doing a juice cleanse to lose weight, it’s not going to result in permanent weight loss; all you’ll lose is water weight, which you’ll gain back.” While the human body does a fine job of cleansing itself, Shoom says it’s only to a certain extend and that sometimes the liver can get overburdened, which may show up, for example, as acne. “A juice cleanse could help support the liver in a deeper cleanse,” she says. Somewhat ironically, the person who will feel the least shock to their system with a juice cleanse (and experience the health benefits more readily) is someone who already eats a wholesome diet. Regardless of your day-to-day diet, however, how you begin and end your cleanse is key. Don’t chow down on a last supper of a burger and poutine, as tempting as it may be. “You have to be very careful easing in and out of it by eating clean and light,” says the Toronto-based nutritionist, who recommends a vegetarian diet for this purpose as it is easier to digest.

 

Chat with your doctor first before deciding to embark on a juice cleanse, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes. However, adding one cold-pressed juice (the cold-pressing method retains the most nutrients) to your day, though, is a simple way anyone can benefit from, says Shoom. She says if you’re not getting enough vegetables in your diet, or if you have a compromised digestion system (“And most of us do,” she notes), a green juice—ideally made with only vegetables since fruit can ratchet up the sugar content—will provide a big hit of essential vitamins and minerals. “It doesn’t have the fibre you’d get from eating the actual vegetables, but as a juice it’s really digestible and you’re getting a ton of veggies into your diet.” And if your green juice has chia seed in it as well? Even better, as toxins will bind to the chia. Timing is everything, too. Drink to your health on an empty stomach.  “About a half-hour before or a couple hours after a meal—because even if you’re digestion is compromised, you’ll be able to fully absorb all of the nutrients,” says Shoom.

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