by Suzanne Wentley
This article is educational and is not intended as medical advice. This article contains affiliate links.
At least once a quarter, I give my body a break. It takes so much energy to continuously digest food, so I’ve found that abstaining from food for a few days makes me feel great.
Well, let me clarify. It feels great after the fact. I often follow a water fast, during which I consume nothing but water, tea, and black coffee. Depending on how long I fast, it can be miserable. I won’t lie.
That’s where healthy detox drinks come in. Instead of water fasting, I sometimes will drink juice a few times a day. This regime provides me with the nutrients my body needs so I don’t feel depleted, but also still gives my digestive tract a rest from breaking down complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that normally make up my meals.
Juice cleanses are scientifically quite different from water fasting, so it isn’t exactly accurate to call it a detox. With water fasting, the body will eventually enter a state known as autophagy, during which cells search for fuel by cleansing themselves of old and damaged proteins. That’s what I consider true detoxification.
This process can take up to four days, depending on how much glucose is in your bloodstream, to enter, so short, extended fasts have their place. Intermittent fasting is a more regular practice that limits an eating window to encourage the body to more easily enter ketosis, or the process of using fat for fuel rather than glucose from food.
My favorite kind of intermittent fasting is outlined in Dr. Krista Varady’s book, “The Every-Other-Day Diet.”
Research is inconclusive as to whether juice cleanses do much more than offer weight loss due to caloric reduction, but if you’re like me, that’s OK. I can get a little fluffy sometimes and like to keep close to my fighting weight. Having some delicious juice on hand is a relatively stress-free way to take a break from food.
When I complete a cleanse, I also enjoy mental benefits. Because you can make the juices in advance or even just buy them, I don’t have to spend time thinking about what I’m going to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t have to do the dishes. I don’t have to go to the grocery store if I forget an ingredient. Life gets simpler, and that can feel detoxing in itself.
5 Steps to Prepare for a Juice Detox
Whether I’m following a water fast or a juice cleanse, I try to commit for somewhere between three to five days. This seems to be the right amount of time for me. If you’ve never tried this before, start with 24 hours and work your way up to longer. Here are some tips I’d recommend before you start.
1. Clear out your refrigerator and pantry.
If you have plenty of fresh foods that will go bad, you may feel like you must eat. I only start a detox if my refrigerator is nearly empty. That may mean preserving some food in the freezer or giving it away to a friend.
The same goes for the pantry. If I have all my favorite easy-to-eat snacks right at my fingertips, I’m not setting myself up for success. Wait until you’ve had a little time since your last grocery visit to get going.
2. Buy only what you need.
Of course, juice cleanses will require you to either buy the produce needed to prepare the juice or simply purchase the juice itself. Go to the store with a written plan, and don’t deviate from it. Even if your favorite food is on a killer sale, flex your “no” muscles — that’s the only way they’ll get stronger!
3. Schedule in relaxation.
As your body shifts from all those meals and snacks to a couple of juices or less, you’ll naturally have less energy during the transition. It’s only temporary, but I consider it an opportunity to downshift my productivity. I decline invitations in lieu of luxuriously long baths and early bedtimes. It’s a good time to schedule an infrared sauna or massage, too.
4. Journal your experience.
When I first started deliberately restricting calories in a structured and healthy manner (no diet culture here, thanks!), I did a lot of journaling about how I felt. Often, emotions that I would otherwise suppress with snacking would bubble up to the surface. This is a powerful time of healing both the body and the mind.
5. Enlist a friend.
It’s so much easier to complete a cleanse when you have a friend doing it with you. Sometimes, I’ll find strangers through Facebook groups who have the same plans and check in with them every day.
Beware of making the check-ins too negative. While you should be honest with your feelings, the whole experience will be better if you focus on the positive. Yes, you will be hungry. Accept that feeling. I promise if you have a few pounds to lose, you will not starve.
If you own a juicer, the best bet for fresh juice for the duration of your cleanse is to make it yourself. If you use the freshest ingredients, the juice can usually last in your refrigerator for up to three days.
Here are three recipes worth trying:
Morning Turmeric Detox
To make this drink Morning Turmeric Detox drink even better, I recommend adding some black pepper. That will help the body absorb turmeric, which has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. I take a turmeric and black pepper capsule every day!
Detox Celery Juice
If you haven’t heard about the power of celery juice, you haven’t been listening to the same podcasts as me. Author Anthony William, who goes by the nom de plume of the Medical Medium, preaches in his books how celery juice heals the gut and much more. Try this Detox Celery Juice blend as part of your next juice cleanse.
Pineapple Cucumber Ginger Lemon
Most fruit juice is too high in fructose, which is just another form of sugar. That’s why I mostly recommend vegetable juices. But for a little sweetness during your healthy detox, you’ll love the eye-opening kick of this Pineapple Cucumber Ginger Lemon combo.
Juices from the Grocer
Now, if you’re like me, you got rid of your juicer because it’s so much work to clean! And even if you have one, it may make more sense just to buy a selection of juice at your local Whole Foods or Sprouts. You really can’t go wrong with freshly squeezed juice, but these looked especially good:
Be careful about having too much beet juice; in excess, it’s too much for even the healthiest kidneys to process.
Nootropics While not technically juice, it’s worth mentioning a new line of beverages worth integrating into a healthy diet. Nootropics drinks are made with plant extracts that have been proven to enhance the mind’s ability to learn, think, and remember. Although I’ve been focusing mostly on taking care of the body, you must also take care of the mind. They’re connected through the vagus nerve, after all.
Here are a few nootropics worth checking out:
Cheers to Better Health
At first, a healthy detox juice cleanse may feel extreme. It’s an interesting exercise to recognize what kind of food cravings you have when you have them, and why. Often, we eat food simply because we’re socially conditioned to, not because we’re really hungry. And when we do eat, if you’re like me, you tend to reach for processed junk food first.
It’s worth the effort to change our brains and train our bodies and minds to make healthier decisions. After a few cleanses, you’ll likely discover the process is easier and even more rewarding.
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