It seems like every time I log onto my Facebook feed, there’s a new article about someone’s attempt at a juice cleanse. While this new trend is increasingly gaining popularity, there are risks involved with solely consuming liquids for days at a time. Juice cleanses may have some health benefits, yet there are many healthier and longer-lasting alternatives to this diet.
Juice cleanses are intended to detox your body by cleaning your digestive tract, but this abrupt shift in your diet can shock your body’s digestive system. Due to the lack of solid foods in your system during a cleanse, diet experts such as Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. recommend cleansing for no more than a few days.
While a juice cleanse may help you eliminate toxins and requires minimal food preparation, downsides to this diet include constantly feeling hungry, a decrease in energy, and a lack of essential nutrients in your body. A typical juice cleanse diet provides your body with around 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. While individual calorie intakes differ, you should be consuming around 2,000 calories a day, mainly in the form of solid foods.
The decrease in calories causes your body to feel weaker throughout the day along with contributing to a constant feeling of hunger. While a juice cleanse provides your body with plenty of fluids, natural sugars, and carbohydrates found in fruit and vegetables, as research shows, the ingredients in juices do not carry other nutrients such as fiber.
As for the cost of juicing, major juice brands reach into the triple digits, with most three-day cleanses costing between $100 and $200. This means you’re spending anywhere from $30 to $70 a day to drink juice. Listed below are a few ways to gain the positive effects of juice cleanses without any of the health risks involved, all for a cheaper cost.
1. Increase Fruit and Veggie Intake
In a new study from CNN, research shows that simply increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat per day can have incredible health benefits, such as a longer lifespan. Juicing provides your body with large amounts of fruits and vegetables, yet you can eat these whole and gain the same benefits. While this may take more preparation, the difference between the cost of a few apples at the supermarket and a bottle of juice containing a few apples is astronomical.
While experts from the CNN study recommend seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day, any increase in your regular intake of these will improve your health, hydrate your body, and allow you to feel more energized. Whole fruits and vegetables also provide the essential servings of fiber that fruit and vegetable juices lack.
2. Eliminate Caffeine and Fatty Foods
Many people who attempt juice cleanses aim to eliminate the unhealthy foods in their diet, especially those with high amounts of fat and sugar. However, simply giving up these harmful calories while still eating three meals a day will be just as effective. This leads to no additional expenses as you can replace your regular purchase of a six-pack of Coke with a healthier option. You can choose not to buy highly processed foods as well, decreasing your fat intake.
If you regularly consume caffeinated drinks and have doubts about eliminating them from your diet, there are still options for you. Health stores such as Whole Foods sell non-caffeinated, sugar-free sodas (with no artificial sweeteners either). Sodas such as these are a good way to wean yourself off the highly marketed drinks which come with skyrocketing sugar and calorie counts. Non-caffeinated options are available for most teas and coffees as well.
3. Smoothie Consumption
Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak recommends consuming smoothies instead of juices. This is not to suggest an all-smoothie diet, but to include this drink with your daily meals or snacks. The seeds and skin of fruit and vegetables contain natural fibers that will enter your digestive system through the form of a smoothie. They are easy and fairly cheap to make at home, and as with juicing, you can easily consume large quantities of fruits and vegetables by drinking a smoothie.
4. Regular Exercise
Health experts often argue that your body does not need any outside substances to detoxify itself. One effective (and natural) way to cleanse your system is through the simple act of exercise. Regularly working out for 30-60 minutes boosts your energy levels, providing you with the same rejuvenating feeling of a juice cleanse achieved after three days. The cost of a gym membership or a couple pairs of workout outfits is about the same as a day’s worth of juices.
5. Partial Juice Cleanse
If you’re still set on the idea of a juice cleanse, combining juices with healthy snacks and meals is an option. With this partial cleanse, you can gain the benefits of juicing while continuing to consume solid foods, getting the best of both worlds. Many juice brands are available for individual sale in stores. If you’re not going on an all-juice diet, you can save money by purchasing a few individual juices for $4-8 each as opposed to a delivered set.
While these are just suggestions to get you started, as with any diet fad, there are less extreme ways to achieve the same results. This article is not intended to criticize those who partake in juice cleanses, but to offer various affordable alternatives. Many people who have done juice cleanses report positive results and no harmful side effects. If you are in good health and consult your doctor before cleansing, you will most likely experience effective results.
However, for those of you who are not convinced that juice cleanses will detox your body or are unwilling to drink liquids for three days straight, try some of the above suggestions. If you add these practices to your daily routine, their long-lasting effects and minimal costs will lead you to feel healthy and happy in the long-term.