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Is going on a juicing cleanse or diet actually good for your health?

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Julia Bryce finds out more about juicing cleanses and diets, what the purpose of them is and if they are actually good for you…

January is usually the month of rejuvenation, especially when it comes to addressing your body and any problems you may have identified at the start of the new year.

Whether you’ve committed to resolutions to get out and exercise more, eat a healthier  diet, drink less or just revitalise your body with the likes of a juicing cleanse, there are many ways to get your body and mind feeling refreshed and ready to take on the year ahead.

While the likes of juicing diets or juicing cleanses are usually associated with weight loss, mum-of-three and founder of The Juicing Co., Vanessa Bremner from Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, says that while weight loss can be a result of some juicing diets, her company is focused on wellbeing and nutrition, ensuring her customers get the most out of their experience.

Some of The Juicing Co. products.

But what is a juicing cleanse? And are they actually safe to do?

A type of detox, juicing involves consuming vegetable and fruit juices or smoothies over a short period of time (usually a few days) with a goal to primarily cleanse your body of toxins.

Taking inspiration from her own experience of juicing, Vanessa was inspired by her time living in Singapore with her husband, Stuart, where consuming raw fruit and vegetables is more commonplace, to bring fresh fruit and veg juices to Scotland.

Launching The Juicing Co. in 2017, she has spent the past few years building her business and helping customers across the UK become rejuvenated and revitalised when they are feeling sluggish, unhealthy and unmotivated.

Working with medical nutritionist, Karin G. Reiter, and personal trainer, Rob Willmot, Vanessa has built her brand around wellness and wellbeing.

Vanessa Bremner of The Juicing Co.

She said: “When I stared juicing in Singapore I was juicing all sorts of things like broccoli with cucumber and courgettes – it was awful. We would just drink them as we knew how good for us they were. As time went on I got really fit and healthy and it was the best I have felt in my life. After our wedding we moved back home to Aberdeenshire in 2016.

“I had been so used to eating raw foods and really healthy in Singapore and realised there wasn’t anything like it in Aberdeen. I remember trying to get vegetable juices anywhere and I said how much I would love to do it myself but just never did. It took around a year of me saying ‘I wish, I wish, I wish’ and it was really my husband who pushed me to do it. I have done so much research around nutrition and when I came home I wanted to share my passion for it.”

Purpose of juicing

Specialising in a range of juices and tonic shots which are designed to kickstart your metabolism or help heal your body, The Juicing Co. products can be used for cleanses or can be added into your daily diet.

With an emphasis on the amount of fruit and veg people should consume increasing, individuals are now thinking of different ways to ensure they get more than their five a day into their diet.

In the Scottish Government’s Scottish Health Survey in 2018 it outlined the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for adults was to consume five varied 80g portions of fruit or veg a day.

However, in 2017 The Guardian conducted research that suggests those who eat 10 portions (800g) of fruit and veg had lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, after looking at 350 studies from across the world.

Studies show we should be looking to consume up to 10 portions of fruit and veg a day where possible.

And while 10 portions seems like a lot to consume in a day, Vanessa says her juices make getting the foods into your everyday routine much easier.

“It is recommended that we eat around five portions of fruit and veg a day, which is almost do-able, but some people really struggle with that,” said Vanessa.

“More recently it has been recommended we should be eating around eight to 10 different ones a day which is difficult, so juicing is a really easy way to get extra fruit and veg in you.

“They are also much easier for your body to digest so the vitamins, nutrients and minerals are much easier for your body to access. It’s time consuming to get 10 portions into your diet every day, so if you juice, you can easily put five portions into one juice which you have with your breakfast and you’re halfway there.

Vanessa makes all of her products by hand and has tried and tested them all.

“By adding a juice into your everyday diet you’re upping your vitamin, minerals and nutrients content. The benefits of a juice cleanse is that you’re giving your digestive system a break from solid food and you’re allowing natural healing to begin within your body.

“Because the juices are broken down there’s not the fibre in them as it is taken out with the pulp, but you have the soluble fibre. Everything is much more easily digested.”

What does a three-day cleanse look like?

Offering a three-day cleanse, the ingredients used in the juices are designed to keep you full and balance your sugar levels across the day so customers don’t feel hungry at any point.

“It consists of 15 juices and three tonic shots. Each day you’d have five juices and one shot. In the morning you’d start off with a Slim Jim tonic shot which has red grapefruit and cayenne pepper to ignite your metabolism,” said Vanessa.

“You’d have that with your first green juice. Mid-morning you’d have another green juice – you have them every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable. At lunchtime its a nut milk which is much more filling and higher in calories.

“Later on in the day there’s a Mr Brightside drink which is carrot, orange, turmeric and lime, and in the evening it would be Beet It – a beetroot juice with ginger.

Beet It is a beetroot-based juice in Vanessa’s three-day cleanse.

“The turmeric tonic shot is more of a healing shot with ginger and turmeric and helps reduce any inflammation in your body. If your muscles are sore from exercising or you have a cold coming on it’s great to heal and clear your body.

“After those three days, depending on how often you cleanse and what your diet was like previously, you should notice clearer, brighter skin, mental clarity – getting rid of that kind of head fog we can get – improved sleep, better digestion and reduced bloating.

“Depending on how regularly you cleanse you’ll see more benefits the more you do it. The first one can be the hardest, especially after Christmas when we’ve all been eating a lot of junk food. It can be quite intense the first time.”

Do you get enough nutrition when doing a cleanse?

While Vanessa doesn’t promote using the juices for weight loss, she is aware this can be a benefit to some. Her clients, who are primarily women in their early 20s to late 50s, will usually juice before special occasions or a holiday to feel lighter and less bloated.

She added: “If you’re using cleansing for weight loss, which isn’t really something I focus on, you would maybe do it more regularly like once a month. You’d need to have a healthy balanced diet through the rest of the month though.

“It is also good to kickstart a new lifestyle so January is a popular time to cleanse and juice. Some will do it quarterly to give their body a boost while others will do it before a holiday, wedding, engagement party or special occasion.

“It gives you a flatter stomach and makes you feel much more energised. You would think it would decrease your energy levels because you’re not eating, but it does the opposite.

Vanessa has juices and nut milks to enjoy.

“It does give you enough nutrients, however you couldn’t live your life purely on juicing! As long as you’ve got juices that are higher in veg than fruits and balanced, and have enough of them during the day then you’ll be fine. Having them regularly balances your blood sugar levels which avoids energy dips, sore heads and hunger pains.”

The expert take on juice cleanses and diets

Bama Kumar, one of the senior dietitians of The Aberdeen Clinic, has voiced her concerns over juicing diets and using them properly.

While she advises people against them, she does agree there is some evidence to show short juice diets, similar to what Vanessa focuses on, can be beneficial

She said: “I would advise against detox diets and juice cleansing. This being said, there is some evidence to suggest that a short-term, three-day juice diet may be beneficial for the balance of the gut bacteria, which is now thought to have an influence on weight.

Bama Kumar, senior dietitian at The Aberdeen Clinic.

“Vegetable and fruit juices provide polyphenols, oligosaccharides, fibre and nitrate (beet juice), which may induce a prebiotic-like effect which in turn may have a beneficial effect on gut health.

“However, the risks associated with the use of detox diets or cleanses and their lack of regulation, makes it hard for me to encourage these fads.

“Ultimately, if you’re concerned about toxins in your body, I would suggest choose a healthy diet and leave the detoxification to your kidneys, liver, and other self-cleaning organs of your body.”

For more food health features…

Vegan vs vegetarian: What it takes to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients

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