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October 10, 2019

The Detox Truth About Juicing

fruit smoothies

Before you follow any new and trendy diet craze, it’s best to check with the experts in the know first. In this article, our in-house dietician Mariella gives you the real low down on the juicing detox craze.

1 Week juice fast and you will be a different human being!

Heard that one before? Juicing is the new thing to do amongst health conscious individuals because it will flush the body out and getting rid of toxins and detox you – often this is promised to happen with a quick  “5 day juice detox.”

Really?

No…

Firstly, lets look at our body. Guess what, we are lucky enough to have our own complex and very versatile detox system and our body is able to detox itself all on its own. 

Liver

The biggest gland in our body, which has about 1500mL of blood circulating through it per minute. It is not only involved in detoxification, but also carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism as well as the storage and activation of several vitamins and minerals amongst other things. Looking at detoxification specifically: The liver is responsible for the detoxification of substances such as drugs and alcohol and it also removes bacteria and debris from the blood through filtering it.

Gastrointestinal lining

Our GIT lining provides the initial barrier to toxins/bacteria etc, preventing them from entering our blood stream. Our digestive tract is also surrounded by something called GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue) which produces almost 70% of our body’s antibodies and contains the most amounts of lymphocytes (important for immune function). Therefore the immunoglobulins produced by the GALT prevent the absorption of bacteria as well as viruses. 

Kidneys

The kidneys are like our body’s own filter system. Our blood is constantly filtered through them in order to maintain the balance of fluid and electrolyte levels as well as organic solutes. Basically it filters out what the body does not need, forming urine, and keeps what it does, thereby maintaining a balance.

As you can see these are some very complex organs we have and they each have a very specific function enabling our body to function optimally and to be detoxed all on its own without the assistance of juicing etc.

So why bother juicing it up, being hungry, grumpy and a hangry delight to the poor people around us?

Truth is, you don’t have to. Save yourself the trouble and money and rather focus on eating a healthy diet, which will give your very own detox system the support it needs!

This does not mean that we can eat anything we want and not be conscious of what we put into our bodies. We need to eat healthy foods, rich in vitamins and minerals to support our body and its organs in order for them to function optimally.

What does a healthy diet mean though?

This means having a good variety in our diet, making starchy foods part of most meals, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables everyday (more vegetables than fruit), having a source of protein such as chicken, fish, meat, milk/ eggs daily, drinking lots of clean water, eating legumes regularly, eating fat sparingly, using salt sparingly, using food and drinks containing sugar sparingly and not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (as per the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines).

In summary, a once-off juice detox will not help our body in the long run. We need to make healthy eating a part of our everyday life in order to support our body in fulfilling its functions. This means adhering to the guidelines mentioned above.

But if I never eat fruit and veg, surely a juice detox will sort me out?

You will certainly benefit from a juice high in vegetables and fruit however,  healthy eating should not be a once off ‘5 day juice detox’ thing but rather a permanent lifestyle change. There is no quick fix when it comes to being healthy and only through making permanent lifestyle changes can we ensure that our body will function at its full potential.

Juices aren’t always as healthy as they say…

Juices are often very high in sugar due to the amounts of fruit added to them and we also miss out on the fiber, which is such an important nutrient (amongst other things it keeps us full – you wouldn’t eat 5 oranges in one go but in a juice, its easy; therefore its not ideal if you are wanting to lose that extra kg or two). Therefore eating the whole foods is a lot more beneficial for us as opposed to drinking our fruit and vegetables.

Lastly we are all human and days of indulgence are only normal.  We need to ensure that we maintain a healthy balance, focusing on living a healthy lifestyle for the majority of the time. That way the occasional treat won’t hurt us and our body will still be equipped with all the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function well.

Live a healthy, well balanced lifestyle and your body will thank you for it!

Some tips for making healthy eating a part of your everyday life:

  • Make sure your plate/daily food intake is colourful
  • Have a bottle of water that you fill up in the morning to keep track of your intake of fluids
  • Think ahead of what you will eat; this way you are less likely to run into a difficult situation of not knowing what to make under time pressure and going for the ‘take out’ option
  • Take your own lunch/food to work to prevent you from buying unhealthy foods from the cafeteria
  • Have a healthy snack stash in your drawer at work/ in your car to tame those unexpected cravings eg. our snack pack add-ons are filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruit

References:

  1. Hasse, J.M & Matarese, L.E (2012) Medical Nutrition Therapy for Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Disorders. In: Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. Eds, L.K. Mahan, S Escott-Stump & J.L. Raymond, pp.462-488. Missouri: Elsevier Saunders.
  2. Wilkens, K.G., Juneja, V., Shanaman, E (2012) Medical Nutrition Therapy for Renal Disorders. In: Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. Eds, L.K. Mahan, S Escott-Stump & J.L. Raymond, pp.462-488. Missouri: Elsevier Saunders.