The Hidden Danger of Juice Cleanses

by Danielle Pergament with additional reporting by Alexandra Tunell


Arthur BelebeauArthur Belebeau I'm always the last out of the gate with anything remotely trendy on the diet and exercise fronts. (I'm still unclear as to whether SoulCycle is one word or two.) So you'll forgive me if I tell you that I tried my first juice cleanse a couple of weeks ago. It was more of a detox-from-coffee-and-wine thing than it was a weight-loss mission, but mainly I was curious.

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I'm not going to name names here, but my takeaway is that most cleanses are a bad combination of 1) expensive, 2) un-fun, and 3) remarkably unhealthy. Digging around, I found that the majority are really--like really--high in sugar. While you might lose weight if you have nothing but pineapple and lemon juice for three days, you're also going to be taking in around 150 grams of sugar, which is like diabetes in a bottle.

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There's no recommended daily allowance for sugar, and you know why? Because you don't need any sugar. In fact, read anything by Mark Bittman, or crack open Michael Moss's book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, and you quickly learn of the link between sugar and diabetes, obesity, and cancer. We checked in with nutritionist Joy Bauer and she confirmed my suspicions: "These juice fasts are high in sugar from fruits and concentrated amounts of sweet vegetables like carrots and beets. Without fiber and protein to help control blood sugar, you can get big spikes and lows in your levels. This can cause crankiness, mood swings, low energy/fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, lightheadedness, weakness, and nausea. And it's especially dangerous for folks with diabetes." So there's that.

But I'm not here to hate on sugar! Let's get back to cleanses--I found a great one (at lizzyjaysjuice.com). And by "great" I mean that the vegetable juices actually taste like vegetables, not like simple syrup. Anyway, it's not new, and it wasn't the first, but for my money--and insulin levels--it's the best. Cheers.

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