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Students try juice cleanses as a way to lose weight, improve health


With natural ingredients and  promises of health benefits, juice cleanses attract many Palo Alto teens interested in finding ways to improve their health. However, dieticians and nutritionists are beginning to scrutinize this form of dieting and point clients in a more sustainable direction.

A juice cleanse is an extended period of time in which one is discouraged from eating any solid food, consuming only pressed fruit and vegetable-infused juices.

“We recommend the cleanses for people who want to do a reset to either their taste buds or if they want to flush out any toxins,” assistant manager at Pressed Juicery Stephanie Sanchez said. “We have Cleanse One, which we recommend for first timers, Cleanse Two and Cleanse Three, which has less sugar and calories than the (other two) which we recommend to the most experienced (customers).”

The juice cleanse trend caters to those seeking a fresh start or a new diet in the hope of ridding the body of unwanted chemicals. Many Paly students have tried this type of dieting.

“I first chose to try a one-week long (juice) cleanse because I had just gotten back from a trip and I wanted a fresh start and to try a different kind of eating,” senior Siena Brewster said.

As people aim for these week-long cleanses, they hope for a quick turnaround of their health and vitality.

“The chlorophyll that we also include in the cleanses is a natural energizer and helps people get through the day, just because we don’t recommend people have anything caffeinated (while on a cleanse),” Sanchez said.

Customers are drawn to these cleanses as a means of detoxification, according to Sanchez.

“I think there is something appealing about all of the fruits and vegetables in the juices because you can be sure you aren’t (ingesting) any unhealthy foods while on a cleanse. But I definitely think it’s unhealthy for someone to do it for a long period of time.”

Maddie Yen

However, the juice cleanse approach is not as idealistic as many may believe, and can often lead to a chain of health risks according to Joy Dubost, a dietitian in Washington, D.C. and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Denise Henry, a Palo Alto parent and fitness and wellness consultant, suggests that her clients consider adding cleansing juices to a regular diet in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle, instead of substituting them in for meals regularly.

“I’m an advocate for the benefits of adding detox drinks to your diet — before or after a workout or to supplement a meal — or spending a week focusing on whole, healthy ingredients and eliminating CRAP: carbonated drinks, refined sugar, artificial foods and processed foods from your diet to reduce toxins in the body,” Henry said. “But, generally speaking, if you eat healthily a majority of the time, your body naturally detoxes every day. Switching to a juice-only cleanse can wind up doing more harm than good.”

According to Dubost, one of the many drawbacks of juice cleansing is the limited fiber content in the juices. Fiber allows for the gastrointestinal tract to function properly and causes regular fullness. When there is a lack of fiber and this bodily function is altered, satiety is manipulated and customers may experience irregularity with how they process foods, according to Dubost.

A common claim about juice cleanses is they can cause weight loss, but this is not the case for most people, according to Henry.

“Juice cleanses can reduce your metabolic rate which means you will burn less calories throughout the day. It’s been proven that chewing solid food helps your satiety and feel more full than drinking meals.”

Denise Henry

Another issue that arises with this type of nutritional therapy is the lack of protein that consumers receive when they eliminate solids from their daily food intake.

“If you’re trying to build lean muscle, a juicing diet will work against your efforts,” Henry said. “Because your body can’t get protein from what you eat, it’ll turn to where it can find it (which is your) muscles.”

Another potential pitfall is the danger of exerting an unhealthy amount of energy on physical activity while relying on a juice-only diet. Those who are participating in a cleanse may not have sufficient energy to exercise, but do so anyways, according to Dubost.

Additionally, juices tend to contain more sugar than the fruit that is being juiced, which is counterproductive when the goal is to cut out unwanted substances, according to Henry.

“For clients who want to pursue a healthier lifestyle I tell them to eat clean — whole foods only with lots of lean, organic/pastured meats, variety of vegetables and whole grains and no dairy or gluten — for 21 days and then follow the 80/20 rule,” Henry said. “Eighty percent of the time eat clean, and 20% of the time eat what you want.”

Henry also proposes that, in order to achieve a more sound lifestyle, clients should begin each day with warm lemon water and work out at least five times per week.

With a cold-pressed juice section in almost every grocery store and a juice bar on nearly every corner of downtown Palo Alto, the juice cleanse business is undoubtedly still weaving its way deeper into the lifestyles of Silicon Valley residents.

By advertising the opportunity for better skin, more sleep, cured cravings and an overall healthier lifestyle, pressed-juice companies are enticing people to reach for green liquids, instead of real food when they need a change of pace.

Nonetheless, dieticians are finding more and more evidence to disprove the effectiveness of the juice cleanse technique and expect the popularity of this craze to take a dig in upcoming years.

Henry said, “Fresh pressed juice can be consumed in the morning, but add in a hard boiled egg and/or oatmeal with fresh organic berries, almond butter and chia/hemp seeds, etc.”

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    AdrienneMay 29, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I wish juicing had been on trend when I was a student. It would’ve helped me avoid gaining the freshman 15+, something that then led to years of yo-yo dieting!