by ROBERT VALENCIA
What is Juice Cleansing?
There seems to be a never ending supply of trendy health foods in America. Most disappear just as quickly as they come. But there are a few health trends that seem to never die. Juice cleansing is one of these seemingly immortal health trends.
The research behind the effectiveness of juice cleansing is rather limited. Preliminary research data from a 2014 study in Human Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that it may slightly improve liver detoxification.  But the thing about liver detoxification is that it occurs in our bodies naturally; even as you’re reading this, your liver is processing toxins out of your body.  So the term juice “cleanse” can be a little misleading since it doesn’t necessarily cleanse any real toxins out of your body. It may help your body process these toxins faster, but is probably not a magical elixir as marketed to be.
Taking the Leap
I love food more than anything else in the world, which is why it was so hard to convince myself to do a juice cleanse in the first place. These juices aren't the type you can buy in a large carton at a supermarket. Instead, these juices are made up of the entire produce section. Kale is a pretty big star in the world of green juices, but you'll also find other popular vegetables like celery, spinach, and romaine lettuce, to name a few. The basic premise is that by drinking these juices and not eating any other food, you can reset your digestive system. That's an enticing proposition, right? Well, I decided to take the leap and put it to the test.
To embark on this juice-filled journey, I took a stroll down to Pressed Juicery in Westwood. I'm a juicing newbie, so I opted for a one-day cleanse. The cashier told me that a three-day cleanse would probably have the best effect, but I went with the one-day cleanse for my wallet’s well-being. As a side note, juice cleanses aren’t the cheapest things to do in the world. To prepare, the cashier also told me to start cutting back on trashy foods so that my body wouldn't experience too much of a shock.
I had 6 juices to drink throughout the day, with 2 hours in-between each juice, so I decided to wake up earlier than usual to start. Juice 1 consisted of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, and lemon. The taste was better than I expected. "I can do this," I thought to myself, naively. Little did I know of what the rest of my day would be like.
By this time, I started to get a little hungry. I popped open another equally green juice. I had just come back from the gym and was super thirsty, so I chugged this one down quickly. This one had pineapple in it, so it was a little sweeter than Juice #1, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the aftertaste.
I started to watch a new show on Netflix and had an almost uncontrollable urge to snack on something. I stared at a half-eaten bag of chips on my desk.
At the time, I didn’t question why Pressed Juicery gave me green water, but I went with it. I shook off my craving and opened up the bottle of chlorophyll-infused water that they told me to drink throughout the day. Later, I learned that a study in Appetite revealed that incorporating thylakoids, a component of the chlorophyll pigment in plants, into a diet helps to curb hunger sensations. 
I tried to bring myself to drink Juice #3 at noon, but I couldn't wrap my head around the thought of drinking another juice so soon. I wondered if I was already tired of juicing. I wasn’t even halfway done with the cleanse and I started to feel disgusted from the thought of drinking more liquified vegetables. More kale, more spinach.
It was around this time that I began to feel the effects of calorie deprivation. I laid down on my bed and stared at the ceiling for about 20 minutes. I started to contemplate my life and my life choices up until this point. Juice #4 went down, but not without a fight.
One of the stages of grief is bargaining. I started to bargain with myself around Juice #5. Would I really lose out on anything if I nibbled on a granola bar? I missed the sensation of chewing more than anything. So, I popped a piece of gum into my mouth as soon as I finished chugging down #5, hoping to curb my insatiable desire for solid food. Chewing gum to curb hunger has always been one of those things I’ve heard that works, but I wasn’t sure if it was completely true. But, according to a 2011 study in Appetite, chewing gum for around 45 minutes apparently does help to curb feelings of hunger, appetite, and cravings. 
It was about time to drink my last juice. I was a mess. My dependence on a high-calorie intake became more and more apparent as I begrudgingly shuffled my feet to the fridge. This juice was different - it wasn’t an ugly, green reminder of promised health benefits. Instead, this coconut-based drink was a milky white color - a beacon of hope shining through the green haze of low-calorie juices.
To this day, I’ve never cherished drinking 300 calories more so than that night. I literally felt myself become energized with each sip of the coconut elixir. It was such a simple drink, made of coconut and cinnamon without added sugar. But, in that moment, it felt like I was drinking a sinful dessert.
My juice cleansing experience was challenging, to say the least. There were times when I considered stopping the cleanse, even though it was only a one-day cleanse. But on the same token, I realize that a one-day cleanse might not have been enough to really reset my system. If anything, it was a glimpse of what could have been.
One thing that really stuck out to me was how caloric intake actually affects our energy levels. As a person that typically consumes 2000+ calories a day, I felt much more tired and sluggish as I trudged through most of my day with less than 500+ calories. My biggest take-away from this entire experience wasn’t the magic feeling of juice cleansing; instead, I really gained a newfound sense of appreciation for the food I eat and the nutritional content of those foods.
- Klein, A. “Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
- “The dubious practice of detox“ https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox
- Stenblom, EL. “Supplementation by thylakoids to a high carbohydrate meal decreases feelings of hunger, elevates CCK levels and prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in overweight women.” Appetite.
- Heatherington M. “Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters.” Appetite.