Is Fresh Juice Really Healthy?

Everything you need to know about juicing before pressing ‘pulse’.

Homemade fruit and veg juices are having a moment, with celebs tweeting about their juicing habits and friends sharing recipes and snaps on Facebook and Instagram. But there’s a dark side to this health trend: the craze for juice detoxes and weight-loss diets. Read on for advice on how to enjoy your juices healthily.

The big claims

Advocates of the juice diet believe drinking nothing but carefully selected juices for a number of days is a great way to lose weight and banish toxins from the body. Joe Cross, star of Channel 5’s Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, puts his 6st weight loss down, in part, to juicing for 60 days. And Jason Vale, self-proclaimed ‘juice master’ and author of best-selling book 7lbs in 7 days, recommends swapping meals exclusively for juices to boost energy and enhance weight loss. He claims that a juice detox gives the body a rest from trying to break down processed foods. It’s an appealing argument, but one that many nutritionists and dietitians disagree with.

‘Detoxing’ is unscientific

Bridget Benelam, HFG expert and senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, agrees juices can contribute vital vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, to our diet. But she’s deeply sceptical about detoxing. ‘Doing something out of the ordinary with your diet for a short period may help break bad habits,’ she says. ‘But from a scientific point of view, there’s no need to “detox” – the body already has efficient mechanisms in place for getting rid of toxic substances via the liver and kidneys.’

Feel dizzy? It’s the lack of food

Some people report feeling dizzy or nauseous during a juice detox. Die-hard juicers say these symptoms are simply the result of the body detoxing and/or cutting caffeine out of the diet, but critics say they’re more likely to be caused by the absence of solid food.
‘People may experience caffeine withdrawal if they are habitual tea and coffee drinkers, but this usually manifests as headaches and tiredness rather than dizziness,’ says Bridget. It’s more likely, she says, that such dizzy spells are the result of a low intake of calories. While this would probably not cause lasting damage for someone who is generally healthy, it could present adverse effects for people who have an underlying health condition, such as type 2 diabetes. ‘Always seek advice from your GP before making extreme changes to your diet,’ says Bridget.


How to juice the healthy way

While many health professionals are wary of juice detoxes and weight-loss plans, they do support including fruit and vegetable juices as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
‘Consuming a variety of fruit and vegetable juices can boost your intake of nutrients, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, ’ explains Bridget. ‘But by only consuming the juice, not the flesh, you could be limiting your fibre intake, and many of us aren’t getting enough fibre to begin with.’ Try blending fruit and veg – skin and all – rather than just juicing. ‘You could also try mixing juices with reduced-fat milk or yogurt for an extra hit of nutrients, such as bone-building calcium and B vitamin riboflavin,’ says Bridget.