What is juicing for detox?
You’ve likely heard about the benefits of detoxing to maintain your health and wellness – but following a juice cleanse to achieve optimum detoxification is a great way to get plenty of important vitamins and nutrients while helping your body clear out waste. Not only will you gain the benefits of following a healthy detox, you’ll also be fuelling your body with essential nutrients. It’s a win-win!
Even if you already follow a relatively healthy lifestyle, your body still accumulates toxins from your environment, from the foods you eat, and even just through normal bodily functions. These wastes include trans-fatty acids and fatty tissues, along with drugs, chemicals, and pesticides; dead, dying, or diseased cells; toxins from the lymphatic system and bloodstream; toxins from the spleen, kidneys, and liver; excess mucus from the sinuses and lungs; and even excess cholesterol.
Through a juice cleanse, your body will finally have the chance to process years of bad diet, junk food, alcohol, sugars, and so on. You can do this by following either a juice fast or a juice feast, both of which will hydrate your body and nourish your cells with all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that you won’t find in cooked foods.
When you’re doing a juice fast, you’ll be consuming only fluids – fresh fruit and vegetable juices – three times a day to replace your solid food meals. You can expect to drink one to two litres of juice each day. Also, you’ll want to drink plenty of water in between juices so you can stay full and hydrated.
During a juice fast, you can also supplement with vegetable soups, herbal teas, and plenty of drinking water. You’ll need to completely avoid solid foods for the duration of the fast, focusing only on pure fluids.
Generally, juice feasting involves drinking more juices than are involved in a juice fast – up to three or four litres each day. Feasters can also add fresh raw plant foods to their diets, as well as very lightly cooked plant-based foods – briefly stir-fried, blanched, or steamed. The idea behind juice feasting is to avoid being too hungry, but you need to make sure you’re still consuming more juice than solid goods.
You will have to eliminate all harmful foods from your diet during the duration of the feast – and preferably afterward, if possible. Stay away from flour and sugar products, processed or deep-fried foods, dairy, meat products, soda, alcohol, and caffeine.
It’s up you to decide which type of juicing detox would work best for you, since there are no strict rules around juicing. Feasting will require you to invest more money in fresh produce to make more juice and eat raw plant foods, but some people, like those with blood sugar issues, can’t let their bodies go hungry.
Where did this idea come from?
The concept of detoxification is nothing new – fasting and detoxing have been practiced by various populations since the dawn of civilization, particularly as a component of certain religious rituals and ceremonies. Even today, many religions continue this practice.
From ancient Greeks using coffee enemas and colonic irrigation to yogis in Thailand drinking juiced herbs, fruits, and vegetables for internal cleansing, detoxification has a long and storied history of promoting health and well-being. Cultures around the world, both eastern and western, have taken advantage of the purifying and healing properties of natural foods to cleanse the body – and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Today, juicing for detox has taken to the mainstream thanks to many celebrities promoting the practice as a safe and healthy way to detoxify the body and supplement a good diet. Thousands of years later, we continue juicing for detox as people become more conscious of their health and well-being – and recognize the importance of detoxification.
How does it work?
Without solid foods that require processing, your body’s systems are freed up to release the toxins they were accumulating and replace them with the nutrients you’re taking in from fresh juice. This allows your body to focus on cleansing – repairing, healing, and nourishing. Fasting for only three days can regenerate your whole immune system, by encouraging the body to produce all new white blood cells.
However, most of the healing starts after a 21-day extended juice fast, which is when your body begins to regenerate cells using these nutrients. An extended fast is important for this process, because it provides an uninterrupted stretch of time where your body can engage in this meticulous healing. You’ll notice the toxins as they are eliminated from your body, since they generally come out in the form of slimy mucus. While that sounds unpleasant, it’s actually a very positive sign that your juicing is working!
You may also notice that you feel physically weak, which is a normal side effect of juicing for detox. However, as you begin to regain your strength and resume your usual activities, you’ll find that many of your previous ailments aren’t such a concern any longer.
What will I need?
Safe juice fasting requires you to use a safe juice extractor. Centrifugal juicers are fine for making fresh juices to supplement a healthy diet, but for a juice fast or feast, it’s better to use a gear juicer or masticating juicer. Centrifugal juicers are less effective at juicing green vegetables – a necessary part of a healing detox juice.
You’ll also need to purchase plenty of fresh produce – fruits, vegetables, and even herbs. Note that fruits will contain high amounts of sugar, and drinking too much of this without any fiber can cause fluctuations to your blood sugar. It’s better to stock up on vegetables, particularly green, leafy vegetables, and add beneficial fruits and herbs for additional flavour.
Juicing does result in a lot of pulp, which you don’t have to throw away. You can save this pulp for future use, adding some extra fortification to your meals even after you’ve finished juicing for detox. This fibrous pulp can be added to batter for muffins or cookies, or made into a broth to cook soups or grains. Not only will you be creating less waste, you’ll be able to supplement your diet with some healthy added fiber.
If you plan on juicing to address or prevent particular ailments or concerns, it’s a good idea to look at the vitamins and minerals that you’ll get from specific fruits and vegetables. Buy more of the ones that are full of the nutrients you need so that you can customize your juice and gain as much benefit as you can. Use the color of the fruit or vegetable to get an idea of what vitamins and minerals it contains.
Red and orange
These fruits and vegetables contain plenty of vitamin C which is important for maintaining immune health, and vitamin A, an antioxidant with valuable anti-aging properties that also helps to support eye health. These fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease, help lower your risk of developing certain cancers, and even reduce tumor growth.
Look for red peppers, oranges, apples, carrots, beets, cherries, and tomatoes to increase your intake of these nutrients and experience these great benefits.
Leafy greens are full of iron, as are peas and lima beans. Iron is absorbed easier when it comes from animal sources, however, so be prepared to increase your consumption of greens to get the same amount of iron as you would from meat. Green veggies also have a lot of vitamin B complex, which is important for blood health.
You can find a lot of vitamin K in leafy greens as well, which builds bone strength and density as well as healthy blood clotting. Think spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and celery.
Blue and purple
Blueberries, eggplant, plums, currants, grapes, and blackberries are great sources of anthocyanin, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect against both heart disease and cancer. They also help the body absorb other nutrients, including calcium, and fight against inflammation.
Anthocyanin can also be found in white produce – potatoes, mushrooms, pears, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, onions, garlic, and ginger.
Dark pigmentation is an indicator that a food is high in antioxidants. While there may not be much produce that fits this category, foods like black or wild rice, black lentils, and black beans are all high in nutrients and great options for post-fast or post-feast eating. By incorporating these kinds of foods into your diet, you’ll be able to maintain some of the important benefits you’ll gain by juicing for detox.
What are the health benefits of juicing for detox?
Juicing for detox offers plenty of valuable health benefits, more than just detoxing alone. Not only are you giving your body an opportunity to eliminate harmful toxins, you’re also adding tons of easily-absorbed nutrients, which is just what your body needs to rebuild after a thorough cleanse.
One: You’ll give your digestive system a break.
The body’s digestive process is exhaustive – starting with your mouth and ending in the large intestine. It takes a lot of work for your body to break down everything you consume, absorb valuable nutrients, and separate waste materials. Eventually, this system can get bogged down with toxins, and starts to work a lot slower.
By fuelling your body with liquid food instead of solids that require a lot of effort to digest, you’ll be able to give your mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and large intestine a rest – priming them to begin processing fresh, clean foods once your detox is over and you’re ready to start eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
Your system will also be purged of the toxins that may have built up in your cells – particularly in the digestive tract. These toxins can actually cause disruptions to your intestinal flora, which are microorganisms that are essential to your digestive health and immune function.
Two: You’ll experience spiritual breakthroughs.
Fasting (or feasting, if you choose) is a humbling experience – especially when you’re presented with constant temptations in the form of food. Not only will the process help you feel closer to your own spirituality, you’ll benefit from learning self-discipline, willpower, and inner strength.
Many people have written personal accounts detailing the spiritual healing and breakthroughs they experienced throughout the course of a juice fast or feast, and cultures around the world have turned to fasting as a religious practice for thousands of years. It’s no wonder that this process continues to provide practitioners with an elevated sense of spiritual well-being and connection with the world around them.
Three: You’ll enjoy improved mental clarity.
Since you’re using less energy to digest meals, your body will have abundant energy to spend on other things – like thinking. Certain blends of fruits and vegetables can increase your focus and concentration, especially when you consume them regularly. Juicing them means that your body can more easily absorb these nutrients, increasing the valuable effects of these miracle foods.
To push out that mental fog and enjoy increased clarity and focus, choose cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, horseradish, watercress, mustard greens, and bok choy. These are full of nitrogen, sulfur, and glucosinates – which work together to purge heavy metals and other toxins from your body.
You can also add small amounts of brain-stimulating fruits, like pineapple, orange, apple, grapes, or melon – but don’t go overboard, since the sugars found in fruits can take away from some of the important benefits of your juice. Also, since turmeric has been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, so a pinch of that in your juice can’t hurt.
Four: You’ll be more emotionally, physically, and spiritually sensitive.
Often, when people are engaged in the detoxification process, they’ll experience emotional healing as well as physical. Mood swings are a common side effect of juicing for detox, and it’s important to accept them and respond in a positive way to encourage further healing. Learn ways to handle these negative emotions, like going for a walk, resting, meditating, or praying. Lean on loved ones for support throughout the process, but avoid taking your negative feelings out on them.
While this process can be painful, the end result is increased emotional, physical, and spiritual sensitivity. You’ll be better able to connect with others, and you’ll notice stronger empathetic reactions to their feelings and needs. Your relationships will be strengthened, as well.
Five: You’ll benefit from increased energy levels.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a few cups of coffee to get the day started, or who depends on a mid-afternoon energy drink to keep from hitting a wall, juicing for detox might be just what you need to hit the reset button and let your body build energy naturally.
Juicing helps increase your overall nutrition, provides more efficient delivery of nutrients, and increases your hydration – all of which combine to give you tons of energy to tackle all kinds of daily challenges and goals. You’ll also sleep better, which will help keep you from feeling fatigued throughout the day.
When your body isn’t spending so much energy on things like digesting food and filtering out toxins, you’ll find that you have plenty of natural energy to stay on track all day long – without depending on caffeine to stay alert.
Six: You’ll enjoy rapid and safe weight loss.
Detoxification is important in promoting healthy weight loss, since it eliminates many of the toxins from your body that could be hindering your progress. Things like inflammation, fatigue, a sluggish metabolism, and a slow digestive system can all keep you from losing weight. Juicing is a great way kick-start rapid weight loss, but there are some things you should keep in mind if you’re hoping to shed pounds while juicing for detox.
If you’re doing a juice fast instead of a juice feast, you might not be getting enough fiber to feel full – and if you struggle with cravings, you might be more likely to succumb to temptation. A lack of protein could also lead to a loss of muscle mass, which is important for weight maintenance. Protein can be added to juice with almond milk or flaxseed.
Using too many fruits in your juice can also raise the calorie count astronomically, so stick to vegetable juices for better weight loss results. Avoid drinking these extra calories and this extra sugar and watch the pounds melt away.
Seven: You’ll experience fewer symptoms of chronic conditions.
Most chronic ailments are caused by toxicity or deficiency – so by eliminating toxins and providing enough nutrients to correct and deficiencies, you’ll notice that juicing for detox can lead to far fewer symptoms of any conditions you might struggle with. Whether you have acne, asthma, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, or even viruses, juicing can help.
Juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables have been used for centuries to treat diseases, and can be a wonderful alternative therapy for those who want to be less dependent on pharmaceuticals. Whatever condition you might have, there is likely a natural therapy that can be used to help lessen your symptoms, so do a bit of research and see which fruits, vegetables, or herbs can be incorporated into your juice to help your body heal and recover.
Eight: You’ll enjoy reduced nasal congestion.
Anyone with a lazy immune system, allergies, or sinusitis knows how frustrating it is to deal with regular congestion. While there are some dietary changes that can be made to reduce congestion, nothing is more effective than juicing for detox.
While you’re eliminating toxins from your body, drink plenty of ginger, carrot, and orange juice to address your congestion. Adding a clove of garlic to your juice is also a great way to treat nasal congestion, but can be a bit of an intense flavour and may take some getting used to. However, keep this up, and you’ll find that you’re breathing easier in no time at all.
When you go back to eating regularly, a diet high in dairy can contribute to congestion – so if you eat a lot of cheese and milk, you might find that you get stuffed up again after the cleanse. Try again, and cut the offending foods from your diet to make sure you can retain this valuable benefit from juicing for detox.
Nine: You’ll have a clearer, glowing complexion.
Research shows that eating plenty of produce has a significant impact on the health of an individual’s skin, hair, and nails. In studies, those who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables found that their skintone changed and became “glowing.” The powerful nutrients contained in produce, along with tons of antioxidants, work together to strengthen and support healthy skin.
Whether you suffer from rosacea, acne, dryness, or even brittle nails, juicing for detox can be just what you need to start looking and feelings younger and healthier. Incorporate fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of omega-3s, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium to see the biggest improvement in your complexion.
Ten: You’ll retain less water.
Water retention, or edema, is caused by all kinds of things – heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation, allergies, or even just eating too much salt and not drinking enough water. If you’re feeling swollen and bloated from water weight, a juice feast or fast can help clear out that excess water and have you feeling better in no time.
To maximize the edema-reducing potential of juicing for detox, there are some specific fruits and vegetables that you should be sure to include in your concoctions. Stock up on blueberries, grapes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, watermelon, strawberries, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, squash, leafy greens, and celery.
Celery is probably the most important element to include if you’re looking for this particular effect – it’s a very effective diuretic, and contains plenty of essential minerals that are vital to regulating the balance of fluids within your body.
Eleven: You’ll reduce your appetite.
Hunger is important, but what we usually mistake for hunger is boredom or even just psychological urges to eat – generally triggered emotionally instead of physically. One of the greatest benefits of juicing for detox is a bit of a reset of this system that will help your body re-learn what hunger actually feels like.
Not only that, but without all of the fluctuations of your insulin response to things like sugar or processed foods, you won’t feel those cravings for unhealthy foods. Instead, your body will recognize when it needs nutrients, and it will let you know. By feeding your body highly concentrated amounts of these nutrients, you’ll be giving your body exactly what it needs – instead of what will cause unpleasant responses and future cravings.
Again, to fully achieve this benefit, you’ll need to avoid drinking too much fruit juice. This will trigger your body’s insulin response, and all the sugar will keep you craving even more. Instead, drink plenty of vegetable juice and lots of water to keep your body full and hydrated.
Twelve: You’ll eliminate harmful foods from your diet.
When you cut out foods like dairy, wheat, gluten, or fermented foods from your diet to pursue juicing for detox, you’ll be able to develop a clearer idea of whether any of these problematic foods disagree with your body. As you begin to eat normally again after your fast or feast, try reintroducing these food groups one at a time – that way, you can isolate the specific foods that may be causing you distress and cut them out permanently.
You’ll also experience fewer cravings for unhealthy foods, and by maintaining a solid diet after your detox is over, you can stay away from the things that are likely causing harm. If you do find yourself slipping back into your old habits and experiencing negative effects as a result of your diet, you can always do another detox and try again to change that pattern.
Thirteen: You’ll fill your body with important nutrients.
For people who don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, or who may have a difficult time digesting all the fiber contained in raw produce, juicing for detox is an important way to help your body absorb a super-concentrated dose of nutrients. You’ll also get tons of antioxidants, which are often found in the skins of fruits and vegetables – which can often be peeled off when you’re eating them.
However, because you will be removing a lot of that fiber, it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the 25 grams of fiber that is recommended for adults. This is what helps regulate blood sugar, which is why it’s vital to limit your intake of fruit juices – without the fiber to help balance the sugar, they can be incredibly unhealthy.
You also need to ensure that you’re drinking fresh juice to get a full dose of nutrients. Oxygen can break down the nutrients in your juice, especially if you’re using a centrifugal juicer. Pressed juice is not as oxygenated and can keep longer, but centrifugal juicers expose the juice to a ton of air – which you can see for yourself by the froth that collects on top of the liquid.
Fourteen: You’ll heal your cells.
The alkalinity of the fresh, green juice you’ll consume while you’re juicing for detox is an important tool in neutralizing the toxic acidity that many people struggle with as a result of environmental pollutants, poor diets, and stress. Achieving a better pH balance is important for cell regeneration, which is one of the main goals of juicing for detox.
All of the cells in your body function on a specific life cycle – constantly dividing, dying, and regenerating. However, many cells regenerate very slowly or not at all, and as you age, your body becomes less efficient at regenerating cells. Giving your body a hand with this process is a great way to stimulate your health and well-being.
The phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in fresh produce are also essential to help provide increased protection for your cells – minimizing the impacts of aging and illness.
Fifteen: You’ll think less about food.
While you may struggle with some cravings when you first start juicing for detox, you’ll ultimately be able to enjoy a bit of a break from the stress of eating solid food – meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and clean up. You’ll certainly need to do some shopping, prep work, and clean up during your juice fast or feast, but following such a limited diet makes this a breeze.
Find some juice recipes that will help supplement your particular health concerns and stock up on the ingredients you’ll need. Clean your juicer carefully and thoroughly after each use, before the juice or pulp has the opportunity to dry and get sticky, and you’ll be able to feed yourself plenty of nutrient-rich juice without having to spend much time worrying about it.
What should I keep in mind when starting this detox?
Detox is an easy, safe process, and a great way to achieve a number of important health benefits – but there are definitely some things to think about if you’re considering juicing for detox. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can make the detox much more enjoyable and even more effective. Since this is a long, draining process, this advice can help you fight through the frustration to reach your detox goals.
Eat clean before you start.
To avoid shocking your body when you begin a cleanse, spend the three days before your planned detox eating a mostly vegan diet. It’s a good idea to do this in the three days after the cleanse, too, to help your body readjust to consuming larger meals.
You’ll also need to cut out coffee during the cleanse, so switch to tea in the days before the cleanse to help you avoid cravings. Your juice fast or feast will be much easier if you aren’t yearning for a cup of coffee or piles of sugar.
You’ll need to drink plenty of water.
In order to effectively flush the toxins out of your system, it’s important to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Drink as much distilled water as you can between juices, and remember that by the time you begin to feel thirsty, your body is already starting to get dehydrated. Stay on top of it by keeping a bottle of water with you at all times, and aim to drink at least two litres each day.
However, it’s important not to fill up on water. Although some people might push the idea of water fasting, this can be very dangerous. When you’re juicing for detox, you’re still giving your body the nutrition it needs to fuel the process – but water fasting can lead to a prolonged starvation, where cells may even begin to attack your body’s vital tissues to survive. A full fast from food and fluids is not recommended for any longer than three days.
It’s normal to feel weak.
Not only will you feel exhausted from the process, juicing for detox can also cause what are known as “healing crises.” These are normal reactions to healing, since your body is basically undergoing a process of spring cleaning. All of the old, settled toxins are being stirred up from your body’s nooks and crannies, circulating through your blood and other systems.
People who are prone to headaches may find that they experience severe headaches during this time. Those with asthma may suffer recurring attacks. And someone struggling with fatigue may notice that those symptoms increase during the juice fast or feast. Other common side effects of detoxification include skin breakouts, sore throat, runny nose, dizziness, nausea, bloatedness, cramps, or diarrhea.
These are all individual reactions – no one will experience healing in exactly the same way. However, the more toxins you have built up in your body, the more severe the symptoms you experience will be. While these are unpleasant, they are an important part of the healing process, and understanding this can make all the difference.
However, if you notice this reaction persisting over more than three days, you may need to break the fast temporarily or seek the advice of a medical professional. Listen to your body and respond in kind.
Avoid intense workouts.
When you’re juicing for detox, it’s not the time to be running marathons or lifting heavy weights. If exercise is a regular part of your day, you can still move around – but do something light, like a walk outside or some easy yoga. Your body will be working hard at purging toxins, and without solid food, you won’t have enough energy for challenging workouts.
Be prepared to spend some money.
Even if you’re preparing juices yourself instead of purchasing them from a fresh juice bar, it’s expensive to go through that much produce. You should expect to spend anywhere from $40 to $80 each day while you are juicing for detox, so make sure you can afford it before you begin. If you need to, save up over a couple of months before you start the detox. This is worth the investment, but only if you’ve planned for it.
Consider your current health.
While juicing for detox is a healthy and beneficial process, there are some conditions where juice fasting or feasting are not recommended. People who are pregnant or nursing, anyone suffering from diabetes or hypo- or hyper-glycemia, eating disorders, people who will be or recently underwent surgery, people on daily prescription medications, people with kidney or liver disease, people with low blood pressure, or those dealing with terminal diseases should discuss juicing with a health care professional before beginning a juice detox.
Many people will experience healing benefits and the alleviation of chronic symptoms after juicing for detox, but it’s important that your overall health is relatively stable before you begin the process. Even if you do suffer from some of the problems listed above, it is possible to engage in a fast or feast – but it’s important to do so under the close supervision of a health professional to ensure you’re staying safe.
How can I get started?
Juicing is a great way to experiment with different fruits, vegetables, and even herbs – but it can be overwhelming if you’ve never done much juicing before. Juiced fruit has a high sugar content, especially without the added fiber, so it’s better to avoid adding too much fruit to your juice. Sugar can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar, leading to things like unpleasant cravings and insulin responses.
It’s also important to drink your juice fresh, since contact with oxygen can deplete the nutrients in the juice. Most juices only take about ten minutes to prepare, but if you do need to store your juice for a couple hours, keep it in the fridge in a dark, airtight container – glass, if possible. A pressed juice can be stored for longer, but requires a more expensive juicer and takes more time to make.
If you are looking to juice to address specific health concerns, focus on the fruits and vegetables that will benefit those particular areas. Feel free to use these recipes to get started, but remember that you can always substitute ingredients to suit your own tastes – or even come up with your own favorite combinations.
Fresh From the Tropics (inspired by this recipe)
2 stalks of celery
1 medium cucumber
2 stalks of kale
3 cups of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of pineapple
1 sprig of fresh cilantro
Inflammation Reducer (inspired by this recipe)
4 medium carrots
2 stalks of kale
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 small piece of fresh turmeric
Detox Green (inspired by this recipe)
2 green apples
6 stalks of kale
1 small piece of fresh ginger
2 stalks of celery
2 cups of spinach
Taste of Summer (inspired by this recipe)
1 cup of pineapple
3 medium carrots
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 cup of mint leaves
1 handful of pitted cherries
1 medium cucumber
Rabbit Food (inspired by this recipe)
3 medium carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 medium green apple
Big Red (inspired by this recipe)
2 ambrosia apples
2 medium carrots
3 collard leaves
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.