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Thinking of Trying A Juice Cleanse?

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Vanderbilt Dietetic Interns Nicole Famularo and Stephanie Murico sat down with Nic Gonzales to discuss the new fad of juice cleansing.

Begin Transcript

Nick Gonzales:         Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Nick Gonzales with Health Plus.

I am here with Vanderbilt dietetic interns, Stephanie Murico and Nicole Famularo talking about juice cleanses.  So Stephanie, give me a good idea what a juice cleanse is.

Stephanie Murico:     Sure, a juice cleanse is when a participant is drinking juice which is made up of fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal.  So, they are really excluding some of the other important nutrients in the other food groups.  It is also important for participants to realize that it is okay to have a juice for one meal compared to having juice as their soul source of every single meal.  In addition, typically, this juice cleanse lasts no more than a week for individuals, and it is also really important for participants to realize that it can be a pretty expensive cleanse.  If you want to buy your own juicer, it could range from $50 to $400, and also if you want to buy the juice ingredients from a supplier, it could add up to about $30 per day.

Nick Gonzales:         Sounds like a lot.  So, Nicole, what are the main reasons people are doing these cleanses?

Nicole Famularo:      There are a lot of reasons that are advertised in magazines and on the internet about why you might want to do a juice cleanse, but really none of them have been supported through research.  So, some of these reasons are that people believe that they will have rapid weight loss, which might be true but only during the cleanse.  Most people tend to gain the weight back afterwards.  There is also the belief that doing a juice cleanse reduces your risk of cancer because you are taking in a lot of fruits and vegetables which have a lot of antioxidants, but really, there is no research to support this either.  There is also the belief that by allowing your bowel to rest because it is not having to break down as many foods, especially those with fiber because you are only drinking juice, that you are able to absorb nutrients better, but this is not necessarily true either.  We want our bowels to work.  Another reason is that people who have done juice cleanses say that they feel lighter, have more energy, and then, it is a good way to allow the body to detox, which means that they do not have the same cravings for junk food or fast food, caffeine, as they did previously, but again, none of these claims are really supported by research.

Nick Gonzales:         That is interesting.  So, what is really happening in the body when someone does a juice cleanse?

Stephanie Murico:     That is a great question.  So, what is really going on is that we are only taking in fruits and vegetables, which are great for us, but they are not really calorically dense.  So, an individual is really at a caloric deficit that is really far below the recommended energy need, so they are going to be feeling really really tired throughout the day, and by doing this juice cleanse, they are missing out on key nutrients such as calcium and protein, and also the juicer is going to be removing the nutrient-rich skin which contains lot of the fiber component in fruits and vegetables, and fiber is really important because it helps us stay fuller longer, so what most people are finding is that when they are finished with this juice cleanse, they are actually more hungry, and they tend to overeat which can lead to possible weight gain.

Nick Gonzales:         So, based on what I am hearing, it really sounds like more of a quick fix fad-type diet.  Is that how you would describe it?

Nicole Famularo:      We would definitely consider it to be a fad diet and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics outlines five characteristics of the fad diet, and those include specific menus that excludes certain food or food groups, a lot of weight loss very quickly without having to change your lifestyle or increase the amount of exercise that you are doing, and then specific food combinations, so for example on this one, just having fruit and vegetable juice.  So, definitely, we would consider it a fad diet.

Nick Gonzales:         Okay, so, if this diet is not necessarily supported, what are some good ways to know that you are losing weight the right way?

Stephanie Murico:     That is a great question.  I think a lot of people are kind of finding it hard to understand, you know, the safest way to lose weight, but according to the Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics, they really recommend to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week, and in addition, some helpful tips to think about is try to make half of your plates fruits and vegetables.  If you are going to have grains, try it to choose more whole grains and move more towards low fat dairy products, and those will be some great tips.

Nick Gonzales:         That is great.  I appreciate you guys being here.  It has been really helpful for you guys to talk about juice cleanses with us.

Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at

— end of recording (04:54) —

Posted on Friday, August 23, 2013 in Health Plus, Wellcasts and tagged , ,


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