Whichever way you peel it, fruit and veg are at the core of good health, well known to reduce the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, including hypertension, heart problems, Type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. That’s where juicing comes in. Fasting fans list five main benefits … and dietitians give their responses. So, is juicing worth the hype?
By Glynis Horning
1. IT ELIMINATES TOXINS
For: ‘Today we’re exposed to pollution, pesticides and the likes of high-fructose corn syrup in food products,’ says Midi Fairgrieve, founder of Detox International. ‘And juice fasting gives maximum detox results.’
Against: ‘Our body’s organs of elimination – kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, lungs and skin – are quite capable of detoxing without special diets,’ says dietitian Berna Harmse, the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa. ‘While we’re exposed to free radicals from pollution, our bodies also produce free radicals,’ adds dietitian Suna Kassier of the department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at UKZN. ‘In excess, free radicals cause cell damage, but they can be neutralised by simply adding antioxidants in the form of fresh veg and fruit to a balanced eating plan.’
2. IT RESTS THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
For: ‘As a result of today’s poor diets, lack of exercise and stress, our bodies have to work extra hard to get rid of waste and toxins,’ says Eudisha Balikaran Bhimsan, manager of Namasté Wellness Retreat. ‘Juice fasts give your digestive system a break.’
Against: ‘Our digestive systems don’t need a break,’ says Suna. Even patients who have parts of their gut removed are urged to eat normally as soon as possible. ‘It’s the one of the best ways to restore gut function and bowel integrity,’ she says.
3. IT NEUTRALISES ACID BUILD-UP
For: ‘When we have too much acidity in our bodies, it clings to fat cells,’ explains Eudisha. ‘Acidity-forming foods include wheat, meat, cheese, sugar and alcohol. Most raw vegetables and fruit are alkalising, so juice alkalises your body fast.’
Against: ‘Stomachs are acidic to eliminate harmful bacteria and help with digestion and absorption,’ says Suna. ‘The body has checks and balances to maintain an optimal pH.’
4. IT HELPS YOU SHED WEIGHT
For: ‘Eating processed foods high in sugar and fat can affect your metabolic rate,’ says Midi. ‘Removing them increases the rate, and excess weight is easier to shift.’
Against: ‘Juice fasting is a crash diet lacking protein and fat,’ says Suna. ‘Your body slows its metabolic rate due to loss of active tissue (muscle), so any weight lost is rapidly regained.’
5. IT SOLVES HEALTH PROBLEMS
For: ‘Juice fasting helps the body heal itself in a natural way,’ says Midi.
Against: ‘Along with healthy properties, fruit juice has as much sugar as cooldrinks and is absorbed rapidly. It tends to upset blood sugar, potassium and sodium levels,’ says Berna. ‘Having fruit or veggie juice is much better than skipping a meal or eating takeaways,’ she states. ‘But there’s no proven benefit to do a juice fast.’