One of the habits I got into after being diagnosed with M.E., which was not only fundamental to my recovery but has also helped prevent any sort of Burnout since, is juice cleanses.
Juicing versus Blending
I want to be clear that when I mention ‘juicing’ from now on, I do in fact mean ‘blending’, because there’s an important difference. When you juice, you remove all fibrous materials and are left with just the liquid from the fruit and vegetables. However, when you blend, with a NutriBullet for example, you get the pulp and fibre, as well as the juice.
Although juicing gives you more concentrated levels of vitamins and nutrients, it can result in higher sugar content and a lack of fibre, which is essential for healthy digestion, controlling blood sugars and lowering the risk of heart disease.
I also love that with blending you can add fresh herbs, spices, nut milks, nut butters, tahini paste, seeds, nuts, protein powders, ice and frozen fruits and vegetables to your juices, giving you more variety and flavours.
It’s important to stick to a maximum of 20% fruit in any juice, so that the sugar content isn’t too high.
A Bit of History
Juice cleanses and fasts are nothing new, our ancestors were very familiar with natural detoxing, and the benefits it brings. In Ancient Egypt, it formed a part of their religious rituals and even today many religions still partake in this type of practice.
The early Greeks incorporated detoxing into their medical practices as a method to rid the body of toxins. Other forms of detoxification, like colonic irrigation and coffee enemas, originated from Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt.
All over the world, for thousands of years, different cultures have made use of herbs, fruits and vegetables to safely remove harmful toxins and chemicals from the body, and the continuation of this practice, all these years later, proves that detoxing brings many health benefits.
The Best Time To Cleanse
For years, I’ve been in the habit of doing a weeklong juice cleanse both at the change of the seasons and in the lead up to Christmas.
Amongst other things, doing a cleanse helps you to reverse any bad habits you may have got into with your dietbecause,try as you might to stick to a healthy diet, sometimes life just gets in the way!
There are the months of trying, and often failing, to resist the hearty ‘comfort’ foods of steamed puddings and meat pies in the winter; and the endless summer barbecues with burger rolls and hot dogs, and of course a glass or two of the obligatory English summer drink, Pimms.
Then we have not just the two days of Christmas, where we have the biggest blow out meal of the year and then unconsciously eat a whole tin of chocolates whilst playing games, but also the lead up to it as well, with it’s numerous social events and work’s Christmas parties.
Before you know it, you’re having the odd bag of crisps, bar of chocolate, slice of bread, cup of coffee or glass of wine, too many, because you’ve become addicted to those foods again and need to satiate your craving.
Sugar alone is more addictive than cocaine, the more you have the more you want, and I find the best way to stop this dependency in its tracks by going cold turkey. Doing a cleanse will very quickly break those addictions to sugar, gluten, caffeine, alcohol etc. making it easier to live without them.
The results of doing a cleanse speak for themselves and include:
- Energy Boost – By day 3 of your cleanse, you’ll be bouncing off the walls, and this is because you’re getting nutrients in their natural state, which gives you a more consistent, lasting energy; unlike the sugar rush and crashes that you get with processed foods.
If you’re new to juicing, or have been overdosing on sugar and caffeine, it’s a good idea to start your cleanse on a Saturday, or at a time when you’re able to rest as much as possible for the first couple of days. This is because giving up on those ingredients can be a shock to the system, and on days 1 to 3 you may feel the effects of going cold turkey, like having a lot less energy and a constant headache.
The more you can rest on these two days the better; give yourself some ‘me time’, relax, nap during the day if you need to, take a warm bath with lavender oil to help with headaches and Epsom Salts or Pink Himalayan Salt to help with the detox process, drink lots of water, and have early nights.
If you struggle to get rid of a headache, avoid taking painkillers but drink more water and burn lavender aromatherapy oil in a burner, or put a couple of drops on your temples and feet. By day 3 you will be feeling much better.
- Rests the Digestive System – The digestion process takes up more energy than any other bodily function, so doing a cleanse is the perfect way to give your body the chance to rest, which in turn promotes healing. Juicing also provides your cells with the healing nutrients it needs to literally transform the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally.
Consider taking a probiotic, (and I don’t mean those little bottles of sugar-filled yoghurt drinks). This will help balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system, can help prevent diarrhoea and reduce certain allergies and eczema.
- Hydrates the Body– More than half the population are constantly dehydrated because they aren’t drinking the recommended 5 to 6 glasses of water or low sugar, cold-pressed juices. Keeping your body hydrated helps it to function at its optimum, and drinking plenty of water whilst on a cleanse helps to release toxins from your system.
- Brings down inflammation – These days inflammation in the body is more rife than it was years ago, as a result of the increased consumption of processed foods, the chemicals we put on our skin and the toxic air we breathe; and it’s often the cause of many of the negative symptoms people are suffering.
Studies have shown that juicing, and avoiding foods such as red meat, sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol, is instrumental to reducing inflammation. Following a plant-based diet can massively help with the symptoms of arthritis, IBS, eczema, asthma and other allergies, as well as help prevent autoimmune diseases.
Ginger and turmeric are naturally anti-inflammatory, so adding them to your juices, soups or meals will help to bring down inflammation in the body even more.
- Weight Loss– Juicing is a healthy way to lose excess weight quickly; whilst at the same time providing your body with all the nutrients it needs to remain strong and healthy.
I find it the absolute easiest way to lose weight. Once you get past the first two days, it just gets easier and easier to stick to the regime, because you’ve broken your addictions to the unhealthy stuff and aren’t having to face that constant yearning for a slice of cake, biscuit or bag of crisps – you just don’t want them!
Plus, because your energy levels are higher and more consistent, you move more and are more inclined to want to take exercise, which in itself promotes weight loss. You are literally bouncing when on a juice cleanse!
What better way to get into that little black dress for the party season, and to have enough energy to sail through the often stressful and exhausting Christmas period, without a hair out of place!
I find that by doing a juice cleanse before the party season starts, I’m less likely to be tempted by the ‘beige buffets’ and to overdo it with alcohol, which means I pay for it less in January. And at least you know you can do another juice cleanse in the New Year and be back feeling great within 3 days, as well as lose any excess weight that you’ve gained!
As if you needed more reasons to start juicing, you’ll also notice that your skin will glow, your eyes will sparkle; there’ll be a massive improvement in your mood, your focus and your concentration. And if you’re suffering from muscle aches and joint pains, like I used to, you will even notice these reduce drastically or even disappear altogether!
An Easy Kick-Start to a Healthier Way of Life
Juicing is often the kick-start some people need to get into healthier eating, and it’s also a good education because once you’ve experienced the amazing results of a cleanse, you become aware of just how bad the unhealthy options are making your body and mind feel.
Nowadays, juicing has become much more the norm, juice bars are appearing in every town, and you can even pay to have your juices freshly prepared and delivered straight to your door.
There are many books on the subject, as well as Apps with set regimes and recipes. I particularly like Jason Vale’s Super Blend Me App, which gives you 7, 10, 14 and 21-Day plans, as well as shopping lists, advice on blenders and after-plan options.
I love doing a juice cleanse and, unlike some people, I don’t miss chewing food. It also means you don’t have the hassle of wondering what to do for dinner each day, making it a stress-free few days!
As with any extreme cleanses, you should consult your GP if you have any health issues or are on regular medication. I have also known people who don’t have any medical issues but when doing a cleanse don’t feel so good.
I always say that you should listen to your body – if you’re doing all the right things, like drinking plenty of water, but don’t feel better than normal and full of energy by the third day, you should probably change the type of detox you do in the future.
Juice Cleanse Alternative
You could keep eating solid foods but stick to a purely plant-based diet for a week or more, obviously avoiding any of the nasties, like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten, processed foods etc. You will still notice huge benefits.
Even when you aren’t doing a juice cleanse, it’s a good idea to incorporate juices into your diet on a regular basis, purely for the fact that it’s an easy way of ensuring you get a good dose of vital vitamins and nutrients into your body.
If you haven’t tried juicing, or rather blending, before I highly recommend that you do, it’ll change your life! And remember, the first two days are as challenging as it gets, after that it’s all downhill, and with the benefits that you get, you’ll want to carry on forever, I promise!