Juicing for Health and Weight Loss
If there is a poster boy for the health and weight loss benefits of juicing it could be Joe Cross. Cross considered himself "fat, sick and nearly dead" for being obese, sick with an autoimmune disease, and reliant on heavy medications before deciding to change his life and his health for good. He resolved to just drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days.
Cross's success journey, which he documented in his film, "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead," resulted in him losing the weight and getting off his meds.
In an interview with Dr. Oz, Cross said that juicing allowed him to harness energy that could be found in nature through fruits and veggies. He added that juicing allowed him to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in one go with the nutrients being rapidly absorbed by the body.
The success of his personal journey helped trigger a diet trend. Celebrities who are a fan of this diet trend include Gwyneth Paltrow, who uses this method as a way to get in shape, and Salma Hayek, who is such a firm believer of the diet that she even set up her own juicing company, Cooler Cleanses.
What Is Juicing?
Juicing, also known as "juice diet," "cleanses," "reboot," or "detox," is a diet trend that involves extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables. This diet plan only requires investing in a good juicer. The juicer removes any skin, seeds, and pulp from the veggies and fruits which leaves only the liquid or juice for consumption.
Advocates of the juice diet see fresh juices as good body cleansers and a lubricant for the blood and digestive system to flush out toxins and cleanse the body. Juicing is also a convenient and easy way to consume nutritionally dense food without having to eat whole fruits and vegetables.
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, physician and nutritional researcher, juicing helps release the natural capacity of the body to heal by flooding it with powerful nutrients and antioxidants. Dr. Fuhrman asserts that for most people, the immune system only functions at an estimated 50 percent capacity; and science shows that increasing intake of nutrient-dense foods packed with antioxidants can help keep diseases and illnesses at bay. Ergo, by consuming nutrient-dense juices, the body will have the power to activate its own clean-up system to provide super immunity resulting in more energy, weight loss, and increased longevity.
Juicing Strategies For Weight Loss
The long-term effectiveness of the juice diet for weight loss is not yet well studied, but evidence does suggest juicing can be helpful in some ways. Because fresh juice has high water content, consuming juice may allow you to feel more full on fewer calories. And the rush of nutrients can help the body feel satisfied and have less cravings.
Juice recipes specifically for weight loss usually include leafy greens like kale, spinach, and arugula; acidic fruits such as apples, grapes, lime, and lemon; vegetables such as celery, carrots, and beets; and herbs such as basil, parsley, ginger, and garlic.
There are many kinds of juice diet strategies on the internet being championed by avid "juicers." However, these can be simplified into two general types:
1. Juice as a meal replacement
This approach to juicing for weight loss involves replacing one meal per day with fresh juice. For example, instead of eating solid food for breakfast, replace it with a fruit and veggie blend juice.
2. Juice fast
The juice fast is the most common type of "juice diet". It involves drinking only juiced fruits and vegetables instead of regular meals for a period of time.
The idea of this diet is to lose weight by abstaining from solid food without compromising the intake of essential nutrients and antioxidants. Most juice fasts also involve increasing water intake by incorporating teas and herb water for variation and satiation.
There are many variations of this diet, which span from as little as three days to as long as 60 days.
Joe Cross's 60 days of juicing is a bit extreme and should not be attempted without first seeking medical advice from a health professional. But he does advocate for a 3-day weekend cleanse. There is also a 7 Pounds in 7 Days Super Juice Diet by Jason Vale which promises to be a fast way to reshape a body. Searching the internet will also show other juicing fast alternatives of 5, 10, 14, 15, and 30 days juice fast for weight loss.
Practical Benefits of Juicing
Aside from a possible weight loss benefit, there are plenty of practical benefits to juicing.
Here are some:
An easy way to get nutrient-dense foods
Research studies have found that incorporating mixed fruit and vegetable juice in the diet made an improvement to the participants' nutrient levels.
Adding juice into the diet is a beneficial for individuals who find it difficult to eat the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables. Even people who consume a lot of whole food can benefit from the concentrated nutrients provided from juice.
Juicing can improve gut health
According to a scientific study, three days of mixed fruit and vegetable juice diet can improve gut health and provide a sense of well-being. The 3-day juice diet can induce significant changes in the intestinal microbiota. In the human intestine, the gut microbiota is an important contributor to human health and the lack thereof has been implicated in the development of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A juice diet can alter intestinal microbiota associated with weight loss. Despite these results, more studies are needed to better understand the health effects of a fruit and vegetable juice diet.
Downsides of Juicing
Though juicing itself and juicing diet plans are simple and easy to follow, there are some downsides.
Nutrient Deficiencies With Long-Term Juice-Only Diets
Juice diets may lack calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc, which are commonly found in animal products. A prolonged deficit of these nutrients can lead to osteoporosis and anemia.
Juice diets may also lack omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish and other seafood, that fight inflammation and contribute to brain and heart health. Moreover, there are some vegetables like spinach, beet greens, kale, beets, Swiss chard and turnip greens commonly used in juicing that are high in oxalate. Oxalate is an anti-nutrient which can bind to minerals in the body and prevent them from being absorbed.
Because juices lack certain immune-enhancing nutrients, such as iron and zinc, a juice cleanse can make an individual more prone to illnesses such as colds and the flu because of a compromised immune system.
A vegetables and fruits only juice diet plans may make the body miss out on other important nutrients, such as vitamin B-12, iron, protein and healthy fats needed for muscle development.
Juicing Can Be Difficult To Sustain
Juicing denies the pleasure of eating whole food. Gwyneth Paltrow admitted that despite doing a couple of juice cleanses a year, it is very difficult to undertake. This is because drinking calories is not as satisfying as eating whole food. It is this challenge that most dieters find too difficult to maintain long enough for the diet to have weight loss benefits.
Most people may find juicing less satisfying than eating a whole-food meal. This is due to the lack of fiber, fats, and protein that can be found in solid foods. For individuals who use juicing as a meal replacement, the feeling of being deprived may make juicing impossible to maintain and can even lead to binging, an unhealthy yo-yo pattern, and in a worst-case scenario, can even lead to an eating disorder.
A "Juice Cleanse" May Not Be Necessary
Proponents of juice fasts are convinced that it cleanses the body by removing toxic substances. However, the body already has kidneys and liver whose function is just that—to cleanse and detox the body. If your liver and kidneys are damaged or not functioning properly, it is best to consult a physician rather than resorting to a juice diet that will not fix the underlying problem.
Juicing may assist with weight loss because it can help naturally limit calorie intake and provide a flood of nutrients. A fruit and vegetable juice diet alone is not recommended for a prolonged period, but it can be strategically added to a weight-loss strategy such as replacing one meal a day with fresh juice, or implementing a shorter "juice fast" followed by regular eating.
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