How to Do a Juice Cleanse
There is a lot of information out there about how to do a juice cleanse (or fast), but I want to take the opportunity to share what I have learned from my experiences. I was introduced to juicing by my parents when I was a kid and have been doing juice cleanses sporadically over the past twenty years. I always knew that juicing and cleanses were good for me by the way they made me feel, but now that I am studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I am learning more about why they are good and how we can get the most out of a cleanse based on our own bio individuality.
Our environment and our busy schedules can make it very difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle balance and we find ourselves looking for a way to get back to feeling healthy and energetic. Around 70% of your energy is spent on digesting your food everyday. When we drink the juice from fruits and vegetables rather than eat them, it gives our digestive system a break, and allows our bodies to easily absorb the flood of nutrients we are taking in. This break gives our body the time to focus on healing itself and flushing out stubborn toxins and waste. Our bodies have the power to heal themselves, they just need to be given a chance to do so. If we are constantly taxing our body by feeding it unhealthy and processed foods, we are not giving it the the opportunity to keep us in optimal health. A purposeful juice cleanse can help transform your life in many different ways. Here are seven ways you could benefit from doing a juice cleanse:
- Rid your body of toxins
- Jump-start weight loss and healthy eating habits
- Give your digestive system a rest
- Rehydrate which improves energy and skin tone
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Help with autoimmune diseases
- Help determine food sensitivities
A juice cleanse is a great way to break back into healthy eating habits, but it is also important to consider your motives for wanting the benefits from your cleanse. Ask yourself why you want to achieve those benefits. What will attaining it mean for you? How will it impact your life? Having a clear vision of your goal will make it easier to remind yourself of why you are doing it and press on in moments of weakness.
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Preparation is key
Unless you are doing a one-day cleanse, you will want to prepare your body for your juice fast. If you are doing a two, three or more day cleanse, you will want to consider the recommendations below. If you jump right into the cleanse from an unhealthy diet, you could feel quite sick from the detox symptoms and not want to continue or even attempt it again.
The week before:
- Transition unhealthy meals out of your diet and replace them with more raw organic vegetables and fruit making about 75 to 80 percent of your diet raw.
- Eat smaller portions than usual, eating only enough to satisfy your hunger.
- Incorporate regular, non-strenuous exercise into your routine.
- Make sure you are drinking enough clean water, which is key to flushing out toxins.
Formulate your recipes
Using The Juicing Companion book can be very helpful at this point. You can use it to learn which fruits and vegetables are good for your specific health needs, and then create recipes that include them and incorporate into your juice fast plan. Or you can do the research on your own. Here are some benefits to get you started:
- Kale – powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, helpful for arthritis and autoimmune diseases
- Spinach – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, helps prevent cancer, aids digestive health
- Cucumber – anti-inflammatory, lowers blood pressure, promotes healthy skin, prevents some forms of cancer
- Carrots – anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, promotes healthy skin, antioxidant
- Ginger – anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, reduces pain, improves immune system
- Green apples – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, increases energy
Consider how its made
Whether you are making your juices at home or buying them from a juice bar, you will want to take into consideration how it is made. The type of juicer makes a big difference in many ways including the quality of juice, the time it takes to make the juice and the amount of juice you get from the produce you are buying. If you are juicing at home, you will want to consume your juice relatively quickly as the nutrients deplete much faster than they do in juice made on a cold press juicer. If you buying pre-made juice, ask them if it is made on a Goodnature press. If it is, you can be sure you are getting the best tasting, most nutrient dense juice available. You can learn more about the types of juicers here: Types of Juicers
During the cleanse
Drink warm lemon water
Warm lemon water is my best friend during a juice cleanse. It’s an incredible liver stimulant and it helps begin the cleansing process before you even take a sip of that first juice. Once getting into the habit of it during your cleanse, you might find that it is something that you want to continue to do post-cleanse, like I did. In addition to drinking your allotment of water, you can also include herbal tea into your cleanse plan.
Choose and prepare your produce wisely
- Choose organic vegetables, herbs and fruit whenever possible. Studies have shown that aside from fewer pesticide residues, there are other good reasons to choose organic, including the fact that organic produce has 20-40% higher levels of antioxidants and contains about 50% less of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal. I personally think organic even tastes better.
- Choosing fruit with low sugar content will help your body get the most out of your cleanse. Even though not all sugar is created equal, sugar is still sugar and your body has to deal with breaking it down and metabolizing it. Make your recipes as vegetable heavy as possible. A good rule of thumb is to have green vegetable juices make up at least half of your juice consumption.
- Wash everything well. Even if it is organic, it still can have undesirable organisms or other contaminants on it. I use a plant derived produce wash, Rebel Green, that I feel works really great at removing wax and chemicals as well as dirt.
Aim to drink a juice every 2 to 2.5 hours. 6 to 8 juices a day might sound like a lot but if you space your juices out over 12 hours, your body will thank you. Skipping juices will likely leave you feeling hungry and can result in a drop in your blood sugar, which can leave you feeling lethargic and maybe even give you a headache.
This probably sounds crazy since juicing is all about cleaning you internally but dry brushing your skin daily during your cleanse will help get rid of dead skin and open your pores for the elimination process. See the resources below to learn more about dry brushing to detox.
Exercise, but listen to your body
Your energy levels can change and be a bit unpredictable during a cleanse so you may want to limit yourself to light exercise like walks, yoga, and stretching. I try to at least break a sweat. Studies show that the body rids itself of heavy metals and other toxins in its sweat. Goodnature owner, Charlie Wettlaufer, did a 7 day cleanse vlog where he completed a rigorous 700+ calorie workout every day and lost 12 pounds in 7 days. Although this is not generally recommended, the most important thing is for you to pay attention to your body and what it needs. If you feel too weak, then go easy. If you feel good and full of energy, then ramp it up!
Focusing on Relaxing
Allow your body and mind to relax. Meditate every day or begin a journal where you can write about your day and how you’re feeling. Get plenty of rest and take naps if possible 🙂
Breaking the cleanse
End your cleanse when you feel the time is right. After you finish your cleanse, celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Every day that you juiced, you nourished your body with around 20 pounds of nutrients. That’s something to applaud yourself for!
Now is a great time to think about how you want to incorporate what you’ve learned into your daily regimen. Maybe you will want to swap one meal a day with vegetable juice? or maybe two? During my last cleanse I found that my sleep was so deep and I felt so rested during the day that I knew I needed to make sure that my body no longer has to stay up all night working hard to digest my last meal. Now I drink my last meal of the day, or if I do eat, I eat light and at least 3.5 to 4 hours before I go to bed. I cannot tell you how much this has increased my energy! Every time I want to deviate from this new strategy, I think about my body not being able to spend those eight hours repairing itself, preventing cancer, and making me more vibrant.
The day after your cleanse you’re going to want to ease into solid foods. I have found one of the best ways to come off a cleanse is to drink smoothies and eat small pieces of juicy, watery fruit. Some people recommended to wait at least 3 days before you start adding proteins (organic meat) and whole-wheat grains, but again, listen to your body and monitor how you feel. In the days following a cleanse, you have the opportunity to identify any food sensitivities. If you suspect you are allergic to something, systematically add it to your diet and see if it’s a trigger for you.
I like doing juice cleanses not only to periodically deep clean, but to really focus on myself and check in with my body to make sure I’m understanding what it needs. I encourage you to try a juice cleanse, and while they may seem difficult at first, if you stick to it, you won’t believe how amazing you will feel!
- Health benefits and recipe creation help: The Juicing Companion
- Goodnature Juice recipe collection: Recipes
- Recommended reading: Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life by the Juice Lady Cherie Calbom, MS, CN
- Guide to dry brushing: How to dry brush
- Compare organic produce vs conventional: Organic Foods: What you need to know
- My favorite produce wash: Rebel Green
Fasting is safe and can be beneficial for most people, although some people should fast under supervision and some not at all. You should consult a health professional if you are unsure if you should do a juice fast.