As promised, I wanted to share with you, my recent experience doing a 3-day juice cleanse. So here is my recap including some key tips and benefits.
Essentially, I drank 7 fresh fruit and vegetable juices per day (plus lots of water throughout the day) for 3 days straight. No other food- just fresh, organic, cold-pressed juice. For some, that might seem like a crazy (and perhaps drastic) thing to do but the experience was not bad at all- it actually felt great and there are so many amazing benefits to doing it.
I came across this quote that I wanted to share as I find it particularly relevant here:
“People are overfed but they are also starving to death.”
Daniel Vitalis (Hungry for Change Film)
The average person who follows the standard American diet is typically consuming a diet high in fat, sugar and processed foods, with insufficient amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables so their diet is likely lacking in key nutrients the body requires to function optimally.
Even though you may fill up your stomach with “food” you may not be filling up on the nutrients your body actually needs and therefore “starving” your body of key nutrients as highlighted in the quote above. So although some may think- how can you get by on simply juices alone for 3 days and still function? Essentially the vitamins and minerals contained in the fruits and vegetables are providing the nutrients my body requires to sustain me. Quality over quantity!
Many people today may either knowingly or unknowingly have impaired digestion which basically means when they eat food they are not actually absorbing the nutrients which may be caused by various factors such as low enzyme production, leaky gut, stress, and candida to name a few. The purpose of drinking only fresh juices is to maximize the nutrient uptake by the body. Fresh vegetable juice is easily assimilated by the body because most of the fiber has removed.
Some may question how this juice cleanse can actually help to detoxify the body. Think of your body as similar to a rain barrel which over time can fill up with water. The barrel can get so full the water overflows as it can’t take in any more water. This is what can happen to your body. Your body can become “full” of various toxins which accumulate over time from things such as exposure to chemicals, pesticides in your food, home cleaning products or beauty products, environmental pollution, processed foods, sugar, food intolerances, stress, nicotine, alcohol or drugs, infections or diseases etc…
This toxicity build up can manifest in the form of:
- Chronic fatigue
- Poor digestion
- Food intolerances
- Chemical sensitivities
- Chronic constipation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Skin eruptions
- Excess weight
- Strong food cravings
- Frequent headaches
- Trouble sleeping
- Joint inflammation
- Frequent colds and flu
Although our body is programmed to detoxify naturally (6 ways the body detoxifies: Skin, Liver, Lungs, Kidneys, Lymphatic System, and Colon), if toxins accumulate in your body, your detoxification pathways can essentially become “overloaded” which can impact your overall health and well-being. Because the juice is easily assimilated and because you are inundating your body with nutrients you are creating a more alkaline environment, to help lower inflammation that may be present from a build up of toxins. Juicing can help reduce the “toxic load” and help improve elimination.
For this cleanse I decided to purchase the juices from The Juice Truck which is local here in Vancouver. Although I have great juicer at home, life has been pretty hectic so I wanted to make things simple for myself and buy the juices readymade to save me the prep time. In terms of choosing where to buy from I was simply looking for somewhere local that offered organic, cold-pressed juices.
The whole purpose of the cleanse is to help rid your body of toxins, therefore buying produce that is free from chemical pesticides, conventional fertilizers and genetically modified organisms (GMO) is important when trying to cleanse.
What does “cold pressed” mean?
This refers the process of how the juice is extracted. A hydraulic press is used to extract the juice while maintaining the nutrients and enzymes within the juice to maximize the benefits.
It cost about $195 CAD for 3 days worth of juices which is a bit of an investment but worth spending in terms of my time. The best part is they deliver the juices for free the night before you start your cleanse which was super convenient!
When to do a juice cleanse
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is a key time for detoxification. The liver, in particular, is an important organ associated with spring detoxification. Spring represents a period of time where we see a shift biologically in our sleep behaviour as the days of sunlight grow longer and the foods we eat start to shift from warming foods to more cooling, raw foods. Our bodies are making adjustments for the warmer months ahead.
The colder winter months are the least ideal for starting a juice cleanse as our body is working harder and using more energy to thermoregulate. In the winter, we naturally crave warming foods such as soups and stews to help warm the body so drinking only cold juices during the winter months can be more difficult on the body.
I recommend starting a juice cleanse when you have a couple of days off work like on a weekend so you can be more relaxed and on top your game, and take rests when needed.
Before the cleanse
I was eating a very clean diet for about 2 months prior to the juice cleanse- no dairy, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol or animal protein. Changing your diet before the juice cleanse is an important step to help reduce possible symptoms of detoxifying such as:
- Skin breakouts
- Brain fog
- Digestive upset
If your current diet is more in line with the Standard American Diet then you may find it a shock to the body to go from one extreme to another in a short period of time.
During the cleanse
Overall my detox symptoms were minimal. I had increased energy and improved mental clarity. I personally did not experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms but I have been taking steps to detoxify well before doing this juice cleanse. I did, however, find late afternoon into dinnertime the most difficult time of the day in terms of craving a meal so I adjusted the times when I would have a juice (I had them a bit closer together) to ensure I made it through. Most places recommend 6 juices per day but I really found 7 to be ideal and more realistic. The “dinnertime” juice from the Juice Truck is actually a nut milk drink to help satisfy my cravings and provide some healthy protein and fats.
I felt amazing! So much energy, no bloating, improved mental clarity and glowing skin. I actually felt like I could continue the juice cleanse for another 2 days!
Possible benefits you can expect from a juice cleanse include:
- Improved immune system
- Increased energy
- Boost in emotional well-being
- Increased mental clarity
- Clearer, glowing skin
- Lowered risk of disease.
So here are my top 10 tips if you are going to do a juice cleanse:
- Follow a detox diet prior to starting a cleanse. Ideally, you should cut out dairy, animal protein, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking a couple of weeks prior to starting the cleanse to help avoid cravings and also to increase the alkalinity of the body as those items mentioned are quite acidifying to the body. Just stick to lots of water, herbal teas, fresh fruits and veggies, healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and legumes (for protein).
- Get lots of rest- minimum 8 hours. This is one of the most important tips to remember. Your body does a lot of detoxifying while you sleep. Plus proper sleep helps to better manage cortisol and adrenaline levels and ultimately blood sugar (glucose) levels.
- Do some detoxification practices during the juice cleanse such as oil pulling, dry skin brushing or an infrared sauna session. These practices will help draw the toxins out of the body.
- Drink lots of water- minimum 1L per day but strive for 1.5L. Letting yourself get dehydrated can cause you to go off track and ample amounts of water will also help flush out toxins.
- Be diligent about having your juice every 2 hours. I found evenings- around dinner time were the most difficult in terms of hunger so I would have my juice an hour and a half after my previous one to satisfy the hunger craving. If you feel like you might fall off track add an extra juice to your day to make it through.
- Add some chia seeds to your cleanse. It’s important you still have a bowel movement during a juice cleanse to ensure toxins are being eliminated. Although the fiber is removed from the juice to ensure maximum absorption and assimilation into the body adding 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 250ml of juice is a great way to help keep things moving along.
- If you are buying ready-made fresh juices just ensure the juices are cold-pressed and organic. If you are juicing yourself be sure to buy organic produce.
- Don’t overdo the exercise. Although it’s ideal to maintain some exercise throughout your juice cleanse as it helps the body detoxify. It’s a good idea to switch to more gentle exercise such as yoga or brisk walking. Vigorous exercise can burn up your calories and could also mean increased food cravings.
- Consider combining your 3-day juice cleanse with colon hydrotherapy. This helps to cleanse the colon of toxins, further promoting detoxification.
- Take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics help to stimulate the absorption of nutrients, stimulate and balance the immune system, help reduce inflammation and improve digestion by stimulating intestinal peristalsis (basically help you to have a bowel movement).
Some Last Words…
If 3 days seems too daunting to try at first, then start with a 1-day juice cleanse and see how it goes. Whether you are up for doing a juice cleanse or not I recommend you strive to have at least 1 large glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice per day- not as a meal replacement but in addition to your regular daily diet. Challenge yourself to have 1 large glass of vegetable juice per day and see what improvements you notice.
Once you complete a juice cleanse avoid diving back into your old unhealthy habits. The point of doing a juice cleanse is to help detoxify your body and up your nutrient intake. So once you’ve completed a juice cleanse, try to stick to a healthier diet (you will find it much easier after doing the juice cleanse anyways). Be sure to include lots of fresh vegetables in your diet on an ongoing basis as well as healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, fruits, lean protein such as chicken or fish or protein sources from legumes and healthy carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice.
It’s always recommended to speak to your doctor prior to starting a juice cleanse to ensure you’re cleared to do it as they are not suitable for everyone.
I will leave you with a recipe for my all time favourite juice recipe. It’s super simple to make and I usually have these ingredients on hand. I recommend using a masticating juicer as they tend to remove most pulp. Ideally, you want to have the least amount of pulp in your juice as the pulp contains the fiber. (Omega and Breville both have great juicers.)
1 lemon (remove the peel)
2 green apples (cored)
6 stalks of kale
2 stalks of celery
1/2 of a cucumber
1 large beet
1/2 inch of ginger root
Follow the instructions for the juicer you use, adding each of the ingredients above and have the juice immediately as fresh juices can go bad quickly. The nutrients in raw juice will begin to deteriorate as soon as they are exposed to air. (The Juicing Bible)
Crocker, Pat. The Juicing Bible. 2nd ed. Toronto: Robert Rose, 2008. Print.
Fitzgerald, Patricia. The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight, and Peace of Mind. Santa Monica, CA: Illumination, 2001. Print.