Juicing and master cleanses are a trendy way to lose weight and detoxify the body. These products make up a 5 million dollar industry, tapping into the growing awareness of the unhealthy chemicals, preservatives, and other elements in the standard diet fare. People fear the toxins that enter the body through food and the environment, and often turn to detox foods, herbs, and cleanses to assist the body’s natural detoxification process.
There are numerous different types of cleanses. Some rely on green juices and fruit to detoxify the body, while others only consist of a regime of drinking water, lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. The concept behind juicing is to limit your diet in order to cleanse and detox your system. While on a liquid cleanse, you reduce your intake of food, typically relying solely on the juice or water with lemon to provide substance while also detoxifying your body of unwanted toxins.
However, are juice cleanses healthy? Although there are situations where juicing or a cleanse can benefit your health, especially when done under medical supervision, there are several dangers of a juice cleanse of which you need to be aware. Undergoing a cleanse can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. It also creates a dangerous slippery slope that can lead to an eating disorder, especially for those already vulnerable.
Nutritional Value Of Cleansing
Many master cleanses or juice fasts do not provide enough nutrients to keep the body functioning well. The brain, heart, and other major organs and systems require certain amounts of nutrients in order to function. If you do not have those basic vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, your body begins to deteriorate. When your body does not get food over a long period of time, it enters starvation mode. In this state, you cannot achieve higher levels of cognitive function and other body systems deteriorate.
When you go without food for even a few hours, your higher levels of cognitive function suffer as your body starts conserving energy to sustain your major organs. Juicing for a prolonged period of time or serial cleansing causes malnutrition, which leads to osteoporosis, muscle wasting, and serious and fatal health conditions.
Short Term And Long Term Cleansing
A very short term juice fasting or master cleanse regiment will not affect the body too much. You will have no long term medical complications from a one- or two-day fast, unless you already have an underlying condition. However, there is a group of people who utilize juicing as a way to control their weight and diet, forming an unhealthy relationship with food.
In fact, the leader of the Global Foundation for Eating Disorders, Dr. Pauline Powers, believes that juice cleanses provide “the perfect pathway to disordered eating,” with an alarming ability to affect even healthy women. A new term, “juicerexics,” has been created to categorize this group of people who abuse juicing in order to remain thin.
Using Cleanses To Stay Thin
Some juicerexics did not have an eating disorder nor were they aware of their risk before going into the juice cleanse. Once they began the diet and lost the weight, some dormant part of their brain susceptible to an eating disorder was activated, leading to them continuing the juice cycle to keep their weight in check.
Some people also use juicing as an alternative to the cycle of binging and purging typical of bulimia. They eat all the food they like, gain weight, and then go back on the detox diet to lose the new weight. Some media campaigns of the various juicing companies even support the idea of using a cleanse to purge the body after an indulgence.
The message to customers is that it is okay to indulge in unhealthy foods on the weekend, because you can just do a cleanse. This provides credibility to this extreme dieting, so many people do not even realize that it is a form of disordered eating with subsequent health problems.
People do not recognize continuous juicing as a sign of an eating disorder. They praise people for going on a diet that cleanses their body of toxins, further endorsing the dangerous diet. It becomes a socially accepted eating disorder, making it even more dangerous. How do you recognize that you or a loved one are abusing juicing and in danger of becoming a juicerexic, rather than just doing a simple cleanse?
The main symptom is using the juice cleanse for a prolonged period of time or repeatedly in order to control your weight or keep the body clean. Other signs could be limiting the intake of food even between cleansing and a new obsession with one’s weight or diet.
If you fear that you or a loved one might be in danger of an eating disorder, including one based on juicing, then you should seek help. Sovereign Health Group provides treatment for those suffering from eating disorders. We have people available to speak to you 24/7 to answer all your questions about eating disorders or any other mental condition or substance abuse problem you may have. You can call us today at (866) 819-0427.
Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado