Let’s talk first about the benefits that come with a good juice fast. These are based on a fast of three to ten days that includes juice from both fruits and vegetables. Fasting for less than three days is pointless, for a couple of different reasons, while fasting for longer than seven days can actually be detrimental to your health. It’s a personal choice, but if you’re considering fasting for longer than one week, educate yourself and speak with a nutritionist or health-care professional before making that decision.
Huge Nutritional Boost
When you consume only the juice, you’re making it really easy for your body to use the nutrients that are inherent to the juice. There’s no digestion, so your body is flooded with just the good stuff, quickly and efficiently. The main components include vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. It’s largely because of this influx of easy-to-use nutrition that you’ll experience a boost in energy and mood.
Enzymes are live protein molecules found in plants that are responsible for many of the chemical reactions in your body. They stimulate digestion, cell building and repair, absorption of nutrients, and the creation of cellular energy. Without these enzymes, your body simply can’t function the way that it needs to. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to capture and help your body make use of these enzymes. When juice is pasteurized, as those sold at the grocery store are, the heat kills many of the living enzymes and damages many of the other nutrients as well. Pasteurization is meant to kill any bad bacteria or other bugs that may be living in your food; unfortunately, it also kills the good bugs. You might not get sick, but you also lose much of the nutritional punch that raw juice has to offer.
Clean Digestive Tract
Years of exposure to toxins and eating processed foods that are packed with preservatives leave your gut filled with garbage. After starting a fast, your body will take at least two days to completely rid itself of solid foods and waste that’s been lingering in your system. After you’re cleaned out, your body can start really using the break from digestion to rebuild cells, fight disease, and flush the toxins from the rest of your body. Consider a good cleanse sort of like a brisk spring-cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new!
There are definitely some downsides to a juice cleanse that you need to consider before starting one for the first time. Though there’s no doubt that you can benefit from a juice fast if you do it correctly, it’s also obviously not for everybody. I’m going to touch on a few things to think about before you make any commitments or spend money on a fast that won’t be successful for you.
If you opt to do a total juice cleanse, you’re going to be depriving yourself of everything but juice, water, and certain herbal teas. There are both physical and mental adjustments that you’ll have to make if you’re going to be happy and successful with your fast. Some people don’t respond well to the idea that they “can’t” have something. If you’re one of those people, plan accordingly. You can help a bit with the physical aspect of fasting by making sure that you’re drinking enough to get all the nutrients that you need as well as taking care to achieve a feeling of fullness that will help keep you sated.
Juicing takes some preparation and preplanning, because you’re going to have to buy produce, make juice, clean your juicer at least a few times per day, and pack juice to take with you when you go to work or leave the house for any other reason. You’ll also probably want to plan so that business or personal meetings don’t involve meals; otherwise you’re going to be the one person at the table not eating, which could be awkward.
There are certainly side effects to juice fasting. Your body is detoxifying, and you’re also switching from a diet that consists of solid foods, fiber, and protein to a diet that is purely liquid nutrients. That’s quite an adjustment for your body to make, so you need to be prepared. Some of the side effects are potentially offensive or embarrassing, such as body odor, acne, and bad breath, so if you can, you may want to take a few days off from work and avoid social events.
Taking a few vacation days would be ideal in any case, because you’ll have a chance to deal with the side effects as well as adapt to making and drinking the juice. It’ll be much less inconvenient if you’re fasting on your own schedule.
Do the Negatives Outweigh the Positives?
Now that you’re aware of some of the pros and cons of juicing, you’re a little more prepared to make an informed decision. Hopefully you now have a pretty fair idea of whether or not an actual fast is right for you. Remember also that there are other less extreme options that offer many of the same benefits of cleansing without nearly as many downsides, so don’t give up on the idea of juicing, even if a fast isn’t right for you.
In addition to the cons that I’ve already touched on, there are some people who really shouldn’t do a juice fast at all, or should do so only under the watchful eye of a licensed health-care professional. Juice fasting is extreme and requires adaptations by your body that may not be possible or healthy for people with certain conditions. I’m going to discuss those conditions next.