Juicerexia The Dangers of Juicing Diets: Experts Reveal the Health Risks of the Juicing Craze
Promoters of juice diets, fasts, and cleanses promise weight reduction, clear skin, boosted energy, and diminished cravings for food. Endorsements by celebrities like Beyoncé and Gwyneth Paltrow have helped make juicing wildly popular. But the results from these fad diets can come at a very high cost, and the health hazards they produce can be radical. For people prone to having eating disorders, the risk of harm is even greater. “Addicted to the rapid weight loss, some women are taking this new diet craze to dangerous extremes,” warns TV’s Dr. Oz. “Women who do these juice cleanses can, and do, die from heart problems.” Dr. Pauline Powers, who leads the scientific advisory committee of the Global Foundation for Eating Disorders, agrees. She calls juice cleanses “the perfect pathway to disordered eating.”
The reason why most fad diets don’t really work, is that they typically result in yo-yo diet patterns, or weight cycling. People may initially lose some weight, but they usually gain it back, sometimes, rapidly. The roller coaster effect this produces can also harm your metabolism and lead to disordered eating. Unfortunately, relying solely on liquids to sustain a human body only intensifies these patterns, experts say.
Increasing Your Intake of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables is Bad for You?
Not if you drink responsibly and eat mindfully. “There are a lot of positives,” Brandon Kolar, a personal trainer and nutritionist admits. “Obviously, this is a very simple way to get your fruits and vegetables. You’re getting tons of vitamins and minerals, and lots of phytonutrients. And you can mix concoctions that are actually yummy,” Kolar told Boston magazine. “Your kale can even taste good.” He says that there is a good reason why juicing is often touted as a fountain of youth. “If your body has been starving for X,Y, and Z nutrients for a long time, and you’re suddenly adding them via juice or supplements, you’re going to see a change.”
Why Juice Alone is Not Enough
“The whole idea with juicing is typically people are going to have a juice and they’re going to go. They’re not going to sit down and have some eggs with it, they’re not going to sit down and have some almond butter, they’re certainly not going to sit down and have a steak,” Kolar says. “There’s just not any protein or fats associated with it either, and we need our good fats. And when they’re taking in carbohydrates just as a meal entirely in and of itself, you’re missing out on a lot of other macronutrients.”
Kolar recommends eating whole fruits and vegetables instead of just having juice. He also suggests adding nut butters or protein powders to your juice. “Don’t expect to get all your fruits and vegetables in fruit juicing solely. Also, maybe go to a juice bar that actually adds supplements or protein to their juices. Maybe through protein powder, a good organic whey protein powder. Almond milk, soy milk, either of those would be fine.”
The Dirty Secret Behind Juice Cleanses
During most juice cleanses or fasts, you eat no solid food and only drink the juices of fruits or vegetables for several days or weeks at a time. You may lose some weight, but as Dr. Oz revealed on his television show recently, the cost of losing a few pounds this way can be deadly. While you’re still getting calories on a juice cleanse, he points out that the lack of nutrients from other foods can result in heart damage. “The heart will literally disintegrate, it’ll melt away, without nourishment,” he explains.
Drinking Fresh Juice is Good, but Regular Fasting is Bad
Because of the restrictive nature of most juice cleanses, many people wind up with full-blown eating disorders. As nutritionist Jennifer Barr points out, the practice of fasting may trigger disordered eating patterns like bingeing. “If you’re doing a juicing diet, you’ll be so tempted to eat something like a cake or doughnut because you’ve restricted yourself,” Barr reported to Web MD.
Johanna Kandel, founder of the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, adds that juice cleanses can be especially dangerous for women who are genetically predisposed to eating disorders. In an article for Marie Claire magazine, Kandel told the story of one young woman who experimented with a juice cleanse and ended up in treatment for a life-threatening eating disorder. “It wasn’t the cause, but it was the drop that made the cup overflow,” Kandel says. “Cleanses bring food and ritualistic behavior into focus.”
The Physical Side Effects of Juice Cleanses
When the human body isn’t permitted to break down foods in a natural way, it can go haywire. Fresh pressed juices may load the body with vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes, but the practice of avoiding solid food and natural sources of fiber can create significant side effects. These may include:
- Memory loss
- Confusion, lack of mental clarity
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Stress on the digestive system
- Breakdown of muscle tissue
- Heart damage
- Osteoporosis, or fragile bones
- Weight gain after malnutrition
For Some, This “Cleansing” Process May be Fatal
When British model Peaches Geldof died at the age of 25, many fashion industry insiders put the blame on her juicing habit. Before her untimely death, Geldof told OK magazine, “I have no willpower, but with the juicing I’m like: ‘I have to do it because I have to lose this extra 10 pounds.’ I’ll lose it, and then I’m back going mental for the chips. I juice, and then I eat chips.'” Keri Peterson, M.D., a medical contributor to Women’s Health, says juice cleanses are far too dangerous to ever be considered as a reliable weight loss method. “I don’t ever recommend juicing,” she says. “When you go purely on a liquid diet for an extended period of time, you’ll lose not only weight but also fat and muscle, and your metabolism slows down.”
Recovery is Possible
If someone you love is suffering from the symptoms of an eating disorder, Center for Discovery can help. We know that true health comes in all shapes and sizes. We’ve been helping families find their way to lifelong recovery for nearly 20 years. Our personalized behavior modification programs are tailored to fit your family’s needs.
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Huffington Post: Juice Cleanses: The New Eating Disorder? by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
Marie Clare: Cleansing’s Dirty Secret, by Courtney Rubin. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
The Australian: Extreme juice fasts ‘masking eating disorders’ by Helen Rumbellow
Juicerexia: When Juicing Becomes An Eating Disorder, by M. Tyler. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
Women’s Health: Can Juicing Really Kill You? by Katy Lindenmuth. Retrieved November 16, 2016.