Every era has a question for the ages. Such as, where does lightning come from? What is relativity? And today: Do juice cleanses work?
The number of trendy juice joints and salad chains like Sweetgreen just seems to keep rising. So does the prevalence of bottled drinks, beverage mixes and regimens-by-mail that promise a juice cleanse, a detox, or a "reset," the chance to polish your whiskey-battered liver to a like-new sheen or reboot your sluggish kidneys. As omnipresent as the juice cleanse is, it's closer to an urban legend than actual science, two experts say.
Are they dangerous? "Generally not, depending on your health at the start, but neither are they useful," says Mark Bittman and David L. Katz in New York magazine. Do juice cleanses even work? "The general claim is that they actually do 'cleanse' you — but of what? The body detoxifies itself daily; that’s a primary job of the liver and the kidneys, and they are really good at it. (The intestines, spleen, and immune system are in on it, too.)"
So, do juice cleanses work? And, is there anything that works better?
You're better off following the boring old recommendations for good overall health. "You want to take good care of your liver and kidneys, gut, and immune system. That’s a far better 'cleanse' than any juice," say Bittman and Katz. "How do you take good care of all your detoxifying organ systems? By taking good care of yourself, of course. That means eating well, not smoking, exercising, sleeping enough, managing your stress, and so on."
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If you're looking to revamp your diet in anticipation of swimsuit season, then, too, should you look to time-tested wisdom. "The definition of a healthy diet has been clear for some time," the experts say. "In fact, the basic theme of optimal eating — a diet made up mostly of whole, wholesome plant foods — has been clear to nutrition experts for generations. What does change all the time is the fads, fashions, marketing gimmicks, and hucksterism. How do you avoid the pitfalls of all that? Focus on foods, not nutrients."