7.08.2014

RAW: Juicing - stupid fad or healthy alternative?




If you live in California, you're probably no stranger to the infamous "juice cleanse" hype that's been going around for the last couple of years. For whatever reason, Californians are notorious for picking up on fads that just sound a bit on the absurd side. But as with anything else, I always try to do my research. It's ignorant to simply dismiss something just because it's a 'fad'. As the saying goes, "don't knock it until you try it." 

I don't have my own juicer at home, simply because juicing is not something I want to do long term. I do, however, occasionally buy bottles of those cold pressed juices from Whole Foods or whatever store carries them. Most of my friends shake their head in disapproval of buying these drinks because we're talking about $6-$10 a bottle! Yikes. Okay, so they are definitely not cheap, so it only makes its reputation worse with any skeptics. They don't necessarily taste that great either. These aren't Robek's juices or Jamba Juice smoothies. These are RAW cold pressed juices, straight from the source of vegetable or fruit. No added sugar or syrups of any kind of course. But the fruit based juices are so sweet already, it would be pointless to additional sweetener. So if they don't even taste that great, are way overpriced and not always easy to find or make, what is the point of it? TRYING TO BE HEALTHY.

A "juice cleanse" to put it simply, is basically a LIQUID FAST. You can do a cleanse for 1 day or 3 days (which is the most popular) or even up to a couple of weeks if you're crazy enough lol. The point of it is to 'CLEAN' out your system of any junk food and overly processed foods that create toxins. You know that groggy, gross and bloated feeling you get from eating way too much fried foods? A juice cleanse is supposed to clean out your system so that you feel NOT bloated, not groggy or gross, and feel rejuvenated. But does it actually CLEAN out your system? 

There are numerous articles that claim juice cleanses have all these health benefits. Then there are those articles that debunk those claims stating that our body rids of toxins completely on its own. But to be honest, BOTH claims are true. Juicing puts a lot of the fiber and vitamins from plants into our body in a very raw fashion. Most of us don't eat a salad without dressing or eat a variety of greens besides broccoli or romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce, the popular lettuce in most salads, don't even have as much benefit to your health as other leafy greens like spinach or kale. That is why these juices are popular. You don't have to force yourself to make an all spinach dish or eat kale raw. Juicing makes it easier by combining several different flavors. However, our body actually does rid of toxins on their own. That much is evident, otherwise, none of us would ever recover from Thanksgiving Day. Juicing also doesn't necessarily "speed up" the process of ridding toxins either. Rather, it infiltrates our system with tons of vitamins from fruits and vegetables and in turn, our body rids more toxins via, well -- the toilet. This is why many people start to obsess with cleanses, because they claim they feel much more lighter, uplifted and energetic. You are simply dumping nutrients you need into your body, while peeing everything else out (lol). But juicing for one day or even three days, is not going to completely rid your body of anything. 

For me? I love doing a one day cleanse when I feel like I've been binge eating for a long period of time. My body just feels completely dead on the inside and I've found that cleansing DOES ACTUALLY WORK. This is purely my opinion of course, but there is a reason why people repeatedly do it and believe it or not, it's not just "all hype". 

After doing my fair share of research, I am both a skeptic and believer of juice cleanses. How so? I don't believe in a lot of the "benefits" that juice cleanses claim, ESPECIALLY ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS. It's not hard to understand why people believe juice cleanses are meant for weight loss, but it's also just not a 'smart' way to diet. You hear of celebrities doing juice cleanses all the time, so naturally, people pick up what they're doing. What most common folks don't understand is, celebrities have PERSONAL TRAINERS. Yeah. They are not just simply JUICING for a week just to fit into a tiny dress for the red carpet. They work out and they work out the right way. Overexerting yourself is quite dangerous and especially on an all liquid diet, it's not smart to overdo it. 

You cannot simply do a juice cleanse and expect to lose a lot of weight or even any weight at all. I will admit, when I did a three day cleanse a while back, I felt a lot lighter. I lost 5lbs right off the bat, and my tummy felt really flat. But do you really think that 5lbs will stay? Yeah....if I continue to do a liquid cleanse for the rest of my life maybe! But that's not realistic and would never happen. I generally like to do a cleanse whenever I ATE TOO MUCH FOOD for a long period of time. What happen is, if I'm eating an unusually large amount of food or junk food, I know my stomach has expanded. Therefore, I will continue to want to eat a lot of food. A juice cleanse or "liquid fast" basically forces me to CONTROL MY INTAKE of food. You're eating so little for the next day or couple of days, your stomach will shrink yes, but not by much. It's really a way for me to practice SELF CONTROL. And for foodies like myself, it's important to create some kind of catalyst for yourself, that will make it easier to eat normally and more healthily. 

My only fear of doing a cleanse for longer than a few days, is that my body will get used to not eating much. Which you might think, 'well isn't that the whole point?' Yes and no. If my body gets used to only consuming liquids, then the reaction to solid foods will shock my body back to normal. What that means, for me at least, is that I will gain weight back TEN FOLD. I am not saying this is the case for every person, but you should know your body well enough to know how it reacts to eating changes, and I know my body very very well. It does not take "fasting" very lightly. And the moment I put any solids back into my mouth, I bloat like a blowfish. Yes, fasting for a long period of time does shrink your stomach, which means you will be less inclined to eat a lot, but your body has years and years worth of habits to it. You are not simply going to eat like a supermodel just from cleansing for a week. If you like french fries and burgers, you damn well better believe you will be eating those things again, and your body is not going to be happy. 

Point is, juicing cleanses are not meant for DIETING purposes. Yes, if you want a quick fix for your wedding day, it can't hurt to do. But it shouldn't be the reason you do a juice cleanse. If you really want to lose weight really quickly, just eat under 1200 calories for a week and lift weights. There is no point in buying expensive juices just to lose a couple of pounds, unless you're juicing at home. But then you would still need to buy all the produce. Rather, doing a juice cleanse can help rid of more toxins and make you feel physically and mentally uplifted. It is because our bodies were not made to consume so much processed foods and taking in all these natural raw ingredients, really makes our organs happy. 

So are juice cleanses stupid fads? Kinda. Really there are other ways to feel uplifted, feel physically better and lose weight. Obvious ways being, WORK OUT. Do yoga. Go run. Eat healthier. Eat a salad instead of a burger. Opt for less fattening dressings. Eat less of junk food. These juices are marketed in a way that screams "DO THIS AND YOU WILL FEEL INSTANT RESULTS" because that's the American way lol. Everyone wants fast results but fast results never mean anything long term. And that is why I want to change myself for the better and that does not mean buying juices every month. It means working out, eating healthier, being more active and treating my body right. And by "treating" I mean literally, treat it to some delicious food! All in moderation of course. 

They aren't exactly healthy alternatives either. But rather, it's a good way to jump start yourself into a healthier lifestyle. There is definitely nothing WRONG with these juice cleanses. There is nothing bad about putting healthy vitamins into your body via plants. But also, we have to be mindful of the fruit juices because even though it's not a sweetener, it is still SUGAR. Sugar is sugar. Beyond that and beyond them being a little on the expensive price, juicing is a great way to get yourself into the mentality of eating healthier. And our bodies will thank us for it if we keep it healthy in the long run. 


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