Ask the Nutritionist: What Do You Think About Juice Cleanses?

Are juice cleanses all they're cracked up to be? How do we really make them worth it? Registered Holistic Nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos, author of Kitchen Cures, explains.

Are juice cleanses all they're cracked up to be?

Q: What do you think about juice cleanses? Are they worth it?

A: That depends on why and how you’re doing a juice cleanse. If you need the discipline of a juice cleanse to reset your eating habits, one- to three-day cleanses are the perfect dose.

A cleanse is the process of clearing the accumulated toxins in your body that can come from the additives and chemicals used in processed foods. Freshly pressed juice, consisting primarily of greens, sends a surge of nutrients into your body; it provides an injection of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you might not otherwise be getting. Juice cleansing is a conscious effort to reduce your intake of toxins while increasing your intake of nutrient-rich foods.

Make sure the juice is organic, otherwise the concept of cleansing is out the window. Nonorganic juices can be laced with a plethora of pesticides, typically in concentrated amounts, because you would juice more produce than you would eat in a single sitting.

In addition, your body needs fiber. Fiber is essential for keeping your digestive system regular and also for cleansing. Fiber binds onto toxins and clears them from your body. Juices don’t contain fiber—including the prebiotic fiber essential for healthy gut flora, which enable your body’s eliminative organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and colon, to function properly. That’s why juice cleans- ing isn’t recommended for longer than three days. Alternatively, you may want to add fiber-rich foods, such as chia or flaxseeds, to your cleanse.

I personally love green juice made with kale, Swiss chard, cucumber, celery, and ginger. It’s my liquid chlorophyll drip that I add daily to my overall diet. Our bodies are working on overdrive to detoxify and neutralize all the stress they undergo on a daily basis. The best way to show them some love is to eliminate harmful substances and add an abundance of nutrients. Eating clean and organic on a regular basis does this.

Q: Should I avoid no-stir peanut butter? Is natural-style nut butter that separates more healthful for me?

A: Nut butters can be grouped into two camps: the stir kind and the no-stir kind. How can you tell? Check the ingredients label. If you see just one ingredient—peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or whatever type of legume/nut/seed tickles your fancy— that’s the most natural kind. As a result, the oil rises to the top.

Falling into the no-stir camp are the smooth, creamy nut butters that many of us grew up with. The no-stir convenience of these butters is due to the hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, you’ll find listed on the ingredients label.

Meet the author: Peggy Kotsopoulos is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She is author of the book, Kitchen Cures, which is available in August.