By Julie Davis
In an effort to detox – or even jump-start a diet – many Americans are drinking up the juice cleanse trend
After a long holiday season of eating and drinking, many Americans vow to lose weight and eat healthy come Jan. 1. Most recently, many have also vowed to detox, with the help of a liquid “juice” cleanse.
Juice cleanses have become big business over the past few years – not that they are anything new, but rather the idea of them has become more vogue. With so much emphasis on organic, natural and raw diets, it’s no wonder these super-charged concoctions are making headlines. From Blue Print and Cooler Cleanse (two of the most popular nationally) to local juice bars selling their own blends, it’s easier than ever to juice up.
For many, going on a juice cleanse isn’t necessarily to lose weight (though for some, it’s an inspiring way to kick-start weight loss), but rather to detoxify the body after a sustained period of overindulgence, such as the holidays.
But according to Dr. Claudia Huegel, founder of Medimorphosis, a physician-assisted weight-loss center in Shrewsbury, there is little information in medical literature to fully support the value of juice cleansing.
“What this means is this is an area that is not well studied and proven through clinical trials to prove that cleanses do what they are expected to do,” she says. “Therefore, all information out there is based on anecdotal evidence, meaning those who juice report that they feel better or have healed a number of conditions, most commonly fatigue, bloat or a few pounds of excess weight above their baseline.”
Certainly a freshly blended beverage is a much easier way to consume fruits and vegetables, particularly for those who aren’t fond of super foods such as kale, beets or the like. Plus, says Huegel, “Juicing does help to release a number of phytochemicals from the fruits or vegetables being juiced, making them more bioavailable. These phytochemicals include bioflavonoids, vitamins and antioxidants that do have proven benefits.”
Patti Siciliano, owner of YUMcafe in Red Bank, is a firm believer in the power of juicing.
“What makes juicing so beneficial is that juice is digested with very little effort so the nutrients, vitamins and minerals can get right to work on us,” she says. “What’s even better news is that with juicing, the enzymes contained in fruits and vegetables are still alive and ready to do what they do best.”
Lara Duffy of Fair Haven has cleansed twice. Her motivation: “I needed to reboot. I was a bit disgusted with my routine and my habits so a juice cleanse felt like a good way to strip away the bad and introduce the good,” she says.
Duffy chose a three-day cleanse from Blue Print, which included six juices a day and no solid food.
Before the cleanse, Duffy says she felt overindulgent and run down – her body was “sluggish.” Post-cleanse, she says she was completely re-energized.
“I felt invigorated and motivated afterward and I was in no way eager for meat, sugar, dairy or junk food.”
She also says that cleansing helped her realize many foods in her daily diet were unnecessary. “I really think a juice cleanse is a learning process and there is definitely a place for them in our food culture. Some people do them for weeks; I was happy with three days. They’re a physical challenge and a mental challenge, and you feel accomplished when you’ve completed one successfully.”
Both of Duffy’s cleansing experiences were so positive, she now incorporates juices into her daily diet – usually one a day as a meal replacement or as a healthy snack. Among her favorite places to go are Freshicas in Fair Haven and YUMcafe.
YUMcafe is one of the only locations locally that offers a three- to seven-day juice cleanse (and also offers curbside pickup or home delivery). And, its approach to cleansing is much more realistic than others.
“We realize going without food is a major commitment,” says Siciliano. “Everyone who embarks on a cleanse with us is given an individualized analysis and, depending on their personal needs and situation, is the degree to which we take the cleanse.” Food is an option for anyone who can’t fully or is not ready to fully commit for one reason or another. “No cleanser leaves YUM without a consultation, information and an individualized strategy,” she adds.
Whether you believe in the benefits of juicing and its ability to reboot the system or not, there is no denying it’s a delicious way to get your daily dose of goodness. Mixing carrot and kale with apple and ginger turns out to be quite a delight. “I absolutely loved every juice I tried, even the green ones,” says Duffy. “The cashew one tasted like dessert.”
Get your juice on:
Freshicas Juice Bar
798 River Road
7 Broad St.