We’ve heard wonders about the magic of juice cleanses, which are said to improve everything from energy to mental clarity. As we learn more about the many reasons people drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices, we talked to Pressed Juicery co-founder Carly de Castro, who swears by juicing as a way to get vital nutrients. Read the Q&A below to for her thoughts on the health benefits of a cleanse and her tips for completing one successfully.
WHY I JUICE: Juicing is the one thing I do for myself every day that makes me feel like the best version of myself. It contributes to my overall health and wellbeing, and makes me a happier person in general. One glass of green juice a day turned my eating habits upside down- I started craving healthier foods and stopped feeling depressed, and I eventually lost a lot of weight. A glass of juice contains more fresh produce than would be possible to eat in one sitting, so it really packs a punch. And as simple as it is– just fruits and veggies– I see it as so much more because it has the potential to really jumpstart a healthier life.
What exactly is a cleanse? How is it different from adding juice into your normal diet?
A cleanse is a regimen whereby you take a break from eating the foods that make up your normal diet in order to give your digestive system a rest. There are many types of cleanses. The difference between a juice cleanse and drinking juice on a regular basis is that on a juice cleanse, you do not eat any food at all.
What are the health benefits of doing a juice cleanse?
The health benefits are really endless. A lot of people believe that health starts in the colon. In our normal, everyday lives, we consume so many toxins in the food that we eat that goes straight to the stomach, and so many of these toxins never find their way out. They accumulate in the form of illness for many people. Because we are always eating food that needs to be broken down, it is rare for our digestive systems to ever get a rest. Cleansing offers the body a chance to restore and revive itself through giving the system a clean break from doing the hard work it does almost 24/7. The results are often astounding; some people experience more energy, weight loss, improved skin tone, mental clarity, liver and kidney detoxification, fewer stomach problems, better sleep…the list really goes on and on. One thing we hear a lot is that people feel better about themselves and generally happier. It’s a very interesting transformation to watch.
Doesn’t fruit juice have a lot of sugar? Is that healthy?
Fruit juice does have sugar, however the cleanses we recommend are vegetable based, which have extraordinarily less sugar, as well as the fact that the juices are extremely fresh and not from concentrate. We recommend that the majority of juices be Greens based, especially leafy greens, like kale, romaine, spinach, chard, and the like. It doesn’t hurt to add an apple or a beet for extra nutrition, and lemons are fantastic for alkalizing the body. The nutritional content of what you are consuming on a juice cleanse is extremely high. It would not be a great thing to continue drinking only juice for months on end of course, but people consume a lot more, UNNATURAL sugars in their daily diets as it is, that the sugar in juice for a cleanse is not going to hurt you.
How long do cleanses last?
Most commonly, people cleanse for 3 or 5 days, depending on how deep they want to go. Many people, however, decide to cleanse 1 day every two weeks, or find other interesting ways to fit it into their lifestyles. It’s really an individual experience and people start to know their own bodies and what works for them.
How does one prepare for a cleanse?
Preparation for a cleanse is very important, as it is a shock to the body to change up one’s routine, and the body needs to be prepared. At least three days before a cleanse, we recommend a (mostly) plant-based diet, high in fruits and vegetables. There should be no processed foods, and no sugar, dairy, caffeine or nicotine. If you must have animal products, make sure they are organic. An example of a days food would be, fruit for breakfast with herbal tea, salad for lunch with lots of veggies and olive oil and lemon, steamed veggies for dinner with a piece of wild salmon, steamed.
When can one expect to feel the benefits of a cleanse?
Most people begin to feel the benefits by day 3 of a cleanse, but sometimes it takes longer. When they do begin to feel the benefits, they tend to last for a long time, given that the person eats very clean after the cleanse is over.
Is going on a cleanse difficult? Are there any things to watch out for? Are there people who shouldn’t go on a cleanse?
Cleansing is not always easy, however it’s the first time that is the hardest. This also depends on how clean and healthy one’s body is to begin with. If a person normally eats a great deal of processed foods and caffeinated beverages, it is going to be a lot harder than it will be for a person who eats mostly whole foods and limits toxic ingredients. There are, however, natural symptoms of cleansing that are actually GOOD, and mean that the toxins are working their way out of your system. Some of these symptoms include fatigue and headaches. Usually by the third day, the symptoms go away, but if someone is having a really deep detox, they may last a bit longer. Everyone should consult a doctor before cleansing, just to make sure they are in good enough health to handle it. People with weakened immune systems and pregnant women should not cleanse.
What if you get hungry while on a cleanse?
We always find that most people cannot even finish their juices by the end of the day! What’s amazing is that your body is often getting fed MORE nutritiously than it was prior to the cleanse, but the vitamins and nutrients are going straight into the bloodstream and not into the stomach like we are used to. We do know that some people who are used to consuming food get that urge to snack on something and fill their bellies. In these cases, we recommend slices of cucumber or avocado, and homemade vegetable broth.
What kind of juices should you drink on a cleanse, and how do you make them at home?
Please see recipes below.
Why don’t you eat solid food on a cleanse?
The point of a cleanse is to give your digestive system a break from the intense work it does on a daily basis. It would be counter productive to consume solid food on a juice cleanse, as it takes this very work to metabolize the food and break it down.
How often should one cleanse?
This is completely up to the individual. For a beginner, it is a good idea to see how the first cleanse goes, and then decide from there how often your body seems like it needs it. Many people do a 3-day cleanse every 3 months or so, and others as I mentioned, do 1 day every two weeks. The great thing about cleansing is it can be tailored to a person’s needs.
How does one re-incorporate solid food after a cleanse?
After completing a cleanse, it is important to eat as clean as possible. We recommend a similar food program to the pre-cleanse menu. No processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol. Fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of the day’s food for at least the first couple of days, and after that it is okay to reintroduce whole grains and organic fish or meat. The great thing about doing a cleanse is that when it is over, your body does not crave the unhealthy foods you were eating before, and it sets you on a path to eating well and living a healthier life. My favorite thing to do is order a produce box from Summerland (www.summerland.is). It’s fresh and local fruits and veggies delivered right to your door, within 48 hours of being picked from the farms. The boxes come with recipes that make it super easy to make healthy and delicious meals. Their prices are great and everything is high quality, so I know that as I ease out of my cleanse I am still putting the best stuff in my system. I try to get a box once a week and tailor it to my needs, but I get a few extra deliveries the weeks before and after a cleanse.
The following juices from Pressed Juicery are meant to be drunk each day, for anywhere from 1 to 5 days. Carly recommends starting the day with a Greens juice, because they are very energizing.
“While cleansing, at least 2 juices per day should be Greens based,” she says. “The almond milk should be taken around dinner time, almost as a meal replacement. We also recommend adding aloe vera juice to water and drinking it before bed to get the digestive system working.”
Sweet Green Veggie
3 kale leaves, stems removed
4 romaine lettuce leaves
A small handful of spinach leaves
1/2 lemon, rind removed
2 Fuji apples
Combine all ingredients in a juicer and enjoy! Take it up a notch: add one peeled peet for a sweet, nutritious boost.
1/4 medium-sized watermelon, rind removed
1/4 medium-sized pineapple, rind removed
1/2 lemon, rind removed
Combine all ingredients in a juicer and enjoy! Take it up a notch: add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. The added heat will kick your metabolism into high gear.
1 grapefruit, rind removed
1 orange, rind removed
1 lemon, rind removed
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
Combine all ingredients in a juicer and enjoy! Take it up a notch: add a few fresh mint leaves for a tasty, cooling effect.
Carly’s Tips & Notes:
- Juice 2 or 3 combinations in the morning and keep them in a few containers to use throughout the day.
- Each juice sold by Pressed Juicery is 16 oz., so most people are consuming at least 12 cups of juice per day, plus water and herbal tea, if they wish.
- Coconut water is a great added supplement to a cleanse, as it is super hydrating.