I was reminded of a topic this morning when I was looking through social media and one of my friends had apparently been doing one of these juice cleanses or juice detoxes. Quite frankly, I thought this topic was dead. I didn’t think people still sold these. I didn’t think people did this anymore. I thought that nutritionists had pretty much scared everyone off from this nonsense. But apparently that’s not the case.
What’s a Cleanse / Detox?
All right, the whole idea behind these juice cleanses, actually I’m not even sure what the idea is. I think their intended in some way to either detoxify the body because you’re taking in nothing but pure fruit juices, so that will help rid the body of toxins, or they’re thinking that because it puts less load on the GI tract because there’s no roughage in there, nothing hardly to really digest or require large amounts of bowel movement, that maybe it lets your GI tract rest and help release stuff, everything that’s maybe trapped in there, and that will somehow help detoxify the body.
The problem with these two theories, let’s cover both of them because there’s problems with both concepts here. They’re both pseudoscience. Actually, I wouldn’t even call them pseudoscience because they’re not even scientific enough to qualify as pseudoscience. Pseudoscience at least has some grounding in science.
The Liver: Our naturel detox
Your body’s primary detoxification organ is the liver. The human body, after millions of years of mammals evolving, actually has a very efficient liver. Our liver is fantastic. I mean the fact that we can get away with drinking alcohol every day and have it not kill us in the first year we do it shows how efficient our liver actually is. We can handle toxins fairly well up to a certain threshold.
The liver actually has a manageable load of toxins that it can tolerate pretty much for your entire life, and obviously when you push it beyond that, things like your liver enzymes get elevated. If your liver is struggling to detoxify your body, your doctor can see it on blood work. If your liver’s being overworked, things like your liver enzymes will be elevated beyond the normal threshold because they’re always there. You are always exposed to toxins of some type. Does it matter even out in the world in the natural environment with no pollution, you’re still exposed to toxins. Otherwise, obviously our body wouldn’t have developed this amazing filtration system to detoxify us if we hadn’t been exposed to toxins for millions of years. It’s normal.
Not all toxins are man-made, although many of them are today and we are exposed to a heavier load than at many times in history, but nonetheless, there’s still people who live to be over 100 years old. All right, so we’re doing pretty good until we destroy our liver and overload it. When we do, obviously things like liver enzymes get elevated, we develop things like fatty liver, we can have liver damage, sclerosis of the liver and we start to have problems. The liver does a fantastic job of detoxifying us and obviously if you can’t purify all the toxins out and it gets overloaded, they get into our bloodstream, they poison us and they kill us.
Obviously, you can have acute poisoning that drops you dead right there in a few minutes. The liver just can’t handle that degree of toxin. Now, with that being said, the only way you could possibly help detoxify your body would be to reduce your load of things that work the liver, make the liver work to detoxify us. In theory, that makes perfect sense. They automatically go to a bunch of fruit juices. Anyone who knows a little bit about nutrition sees the problem here already. Off the top of your head, what are the things that we know when you think of off the top of your head that put stress on your liver? Certain drugs, even over the counter drugs, Tylenol, aspirin and pain killers can elevate liver enzymes. Those of you in the training world, oral performance enhancers.
Here’s the big one, alcohol, drinking alcohol. All right? Drinking alcohol, big one, obviously chronic excessive intake of that will absolutely elevate your liver enzymes and eventually destroy it. However, what substance also found in nature produces a similar effect on the liver to alcohol that we have a threshold of it we can tolerate and beyond that becomes a problem? Fructose. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar. It is hepatoxic. We started realizing this about seven or eight years ago. There’s quite a bit of data on it. Dr. Lowstein talked about it a lot. Maybe he’s overblown it a bit and I think he has, but he started seeing infants with liver sclerosis from too much table sugar and stuff being in the foods.
What is fruit juice essentially? Fruit juice is a refined sugar because you’re basically, just like we’ve taken sugar cane, table sugar can cause toxicity. When you start exceeding 50 grams of fructose a day, your liver can’t handle the load. That’s assuming no drinking alcohol or anything in there. They’re going to take a bunch of fruit sugars. How do we get sugar cane into table sugar and table sugar is the biggest culprit out there for this problem, right, this liver toxicity due to excessive fructose intake? It’s refined sugar. We take sugar cane and we strip all the fiber out and we pull the stuff out of the inside and that’s table sugar. You can actually do it through burning it. There’s a milling process. There’s a burning process.
You get rid of all the fiber, right? Then you’ve got a refined sugar. What is fruit juice? In fact, many of these fruit juices and these cleanses have added sugars back in. Sometimes they have added fructose back in there. You’ve essentially taken fruit, stripped all the fiber out, all that peal, all that meaty part of the fruit, all that fiber, the good stuff, the stuff you want, we’ll get to that as far as the GI tract too. This is far from smart (stupid) to remove that if you want to help purify your GI tract. It’s the opposite of what you want to do to cleanse your gut out or cleanse your colon out. You removed all the fiber. So when you do this, a lot of these juice cleanses are a refined fruit sugar.
You’re getting a big chunk of your daily calories now from fructose. The one thing that you want to avoid is a normal dietary food if you wanted to give your liver a little bit of a break or let it back off a little bit so it could do its job better. Again, you don’t need to detoxify unless your doctor tells you to and the first thing he’ll do is have you cut alcohol and stuff out. All right? But your liver enzymes will tell you that your liver can’t detoxify your body effectively anymore. If you wanted to give it a break, the last carb I would put in there would be a refined sugar containing fructose in it.
That’s what these juices are. They actually create a load on your liver that it has to detoxify, just like as if you were drinking a little bit of alcohol. This is the exact opposite of a detox. It’s the exact opposite. It’s insane. You’re putting another liver toxin in your body in a fairly large amount to detoxify yourself. Again, It’s far from smart (stupid). Anyone who knows biochemistry, human anatomy or nutrition should be looking at this going “What the actual F?” Like why would you think putting a pretty hefty amount of a liver toxin into your body would detoxify your body? Are you going to try arsenic next? Think about it.
Now, the other issue. Let’s kind of give the GI tract a rest. Why would your GI tract ever need a rest? That’s like saying well, we need to give your heart a break so we’re gonna try to stop your heart from beating. Why would you want to stop the muscles from working in your GI tract? They’re designed to handle large amounts of roughage, large amounts of food as much as you can eat and push it through all the time. In fact, we consumed larger amounts of fiber thousands of years ago even in our natural environment than we do today. Your GI tract handles large amounts of roughage well. Why would you remove the roughage from it? What is the one thing that we know effectively cleanses out your colon and your intestines? Fiber.
So, you’re gonna go several days on a juice fast and remove all of the fiber from your diet, the stuff that actually scrapes the linings of your intestines out and the lining of your colon out and gets all the garbage and old ”stuff” out of there. Fiber is what pushes it out. So you’re going to stop taking in any fiber in your diet and you think that the thing that actually cleanses out your intestines by not having any of it in your body, that it’s going to be cleaner? Why don’t you try running your dishwasher and your washing machine without soap next time and see how clean your stuff gets. It’s the same concept.
You’re taking the one cleaning agent found in our diet and removing it from your diet. That’s not going to help you here. If anything, even if it worked, here’s the problem. You’re going to go right back to your bad old eating habits, which is generally a low fiber diet. People who have problems and have colon cancers, polyps and other problems with their colon from old impacted stuff in there, it’s because they consume too low of a fiber diet. Their diet’s too low in fiber and roughage.
If you have this problem, even if this magical cleanse helped you there, you’re going to go right back to eating your low fiber diet and you’re going to have the same problem again in a year. The best thing you could probably eat is brown rice. I would tell people “Look, if you wanted to eat a detoxifying food, why don’t you eat some brown rice?” Brown rice has an amazing ability to just clean out the GI tract. It has virtually no fructose in it, no toxicity on the liver. The actual oils found in rice bran actually has a very mild laxative effect combined with a really good fiber content that just scrapes out the lining of everything. Why don’t you eat brown rice every day? Then your colon and your intestines would actually be about as clean as humanly possible.
So, this whole idea of this juice cleanse is just literally nonsense on every level and people are like “Well, I started to feel better on it. I have energy.” Yeah, you have energy because you just started eating a bunch of table sugar basically. You just dumped an enormous amount of refined sugar into your body getting a sugar spike. Of course you’ve got energy, but you’re going to have to keep sipping it all day to keep that energy going. You’re going to have to keep sipping it to keep the energy going because it’s going to spike and crash. The only reason you have energy is because you’re consuming a bunch of sugar.
And that’s probably not the best way to be healthy. A bunch of refined sugar being thrown into your body for several days straight as your only form of calories, do that too often and that’s how you develop type II diabetes. This is again, not healthy. It’s a scam, It’s dangerous and there is not a registered dietitian that I have ever heard of who would promote this idea. In fact, you talk to any registered dietitian about it and they’re going to tell you not to participate in this scam. Stay safe… stay smart…and stay healthy.
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