Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stella Says "Do You Juice?"

Juicing is THE THING these days.  There are many reasons people choose to give up food to juice every few hours for days at a time - detox, weight loss or just to give your body a break.  We wanted to know what the skinny was so we asked our resident nutritionist, Stella Chan Marinaro, to give us the facts straight up.

Juice Cleanses Verses Detoxing Diets

Juice cleanses are more popular than ever. If you are not a “juicer” yourself, you have probably come across a few. Juicers are people who go on extreme, low calorie diets of liquefied fruits, vegetables and nut concoctions for a period of a few days to a week. What are the reasons for why people juice?

The diet involves the use of a special juicing machine to liquefy foods and nutrients while extracting the fiber. A diet comprised solely of juices is said to be easier on the digestive system because it gives it a break from having to digest solid foods. People who drink these juices believe that they rid the body of toxins, curb food cravings, increase energy levels and make them look and feel better.

Do juice cleanses work?

I always encourage a healthy daily diet of fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein and dairy. Those who do not eat enough of these but are willing to drink fruit and vegetable juices will see and feel the health benefits of juicing. However, for those of us who do eat enough fruits and vegetables daily, there are no reasons to juice. In fact, removing all fiber from the diet could be detrimental to a healthy digestive system, which needs fiber to clean and clear bodily wastes. Our body naturally eliminates toxins with the help of our liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. We don’t need juicing to do that.

Furthermore, juice diets do not provide sufficient calories, and often come with warnings to refrain from exercising as it may cause fatigue or dizziness. While it can be argued that replacing real food with low calorie juices will likely result in some weight loss, once the dieter goes back to eating solid foods the weight generally will return if old eating habits are not changed.

Detoxing diets and fasting are other popular springtime rituals. Foods containing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol are eliminated for a period of time to rid the body of toxins and give it a fresh healthy start. Many religious groups partake in fasting rituals for about a month to forty-days.

While I have never done a juice cleanse, I have tasted many of the popular brands on the market, out of curiosity, and found some to be more palatable than others. I prefer to eat a variety of healthy foods, and plenty of fruits and vegetables with the fiber intact, rather than having to deal with the hassle and mess of juicing. 

I do, however strongly encourage detoxing (eliminating unhealthy foods high in sugar, fat and salt from your diet for prolonged periods) to rid bad eating habits. Research indicates that it takes about forty days or six weeks change a bad habit. Detoxing and fasting, in order to replace bad eating habits with good ones, are beneficial to your health and a worthwhile springtime ritual.

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