Spilling the Beans

The juice detox fad is hard to swallow

27 September 2017 - 15:16
Can freshly squeezed fruit and veg juices actually draw toxins from the body?
Can freshly squeezed fruit and veg juices actually draw toxins from the body?
Image: iStock

Of all the faddy food fads in the past century, juicing must be the one that sounds the least controversial, but is probably up there with the nuttiest. Why a certain Norman Walker of the Brooklyn Ortho-Dietetics Institute decided that juicing was nutritional nirvana back in the 1930s we aren’t sure.

All we know is that ever since this (by all accounts dubious) individual invented a machine to remove the fibre from carrots, apples and so on, making possible the unnatural feat of glugging down the equivalent of eight portions of food in 20 seconds, we’ve loved the idea.

Admittedly Walker (or Dr Walker as he came to call himself, despite having no medical training) lived until he was around 99, but that may also be because he didn’t smoke or drink, or because he’d made much moola cheating students at his dietetic instituteout of their money (you know, the only-the-gooddie-young theory).

Anyhoo. Juice freaks are convinced that this is the only way to get all the vitamins and minerals needed (ignoring how many modern societies possess no juicing machines and live long lives).

Your body is designed to remove toxins on its own, which might well be why the human race didn’t die out before the invention of juicers

They also tell you that juicing can cleanse your body of toxins. This is laugh-out-loud bonkers. If anyone can explain what exactly these toxins are, and how the juices help to draw them from whatever part of the body they’re in, I’d love to hear it.

Your body is designed to remove toxins on its own, which might well be why the human race didn’t die out before the invention of juicers (or colonic irrigation, which is even higher up the scale of nonsensical aids to the digestive system).

Eight glasses of water a day. This is what we’re told we must, as grown-ups, take in (45kg jockeys and 120kg truckers alike). But where does the figure come from?

It’s so reassuring when anyone can give us a definite number that — quite understandably — we tend to just go with it rather than question. We assume it must come from something solid — tests, research, something scientific. Sadly, that’s rarely the case.

The water figure is based on absolutely nothing concrete. After all, how could it be? Unless you gave 100 people five glasses of water a day for their entire lives, another group six glasses, another seven, and so on, plus gave them the same diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, and monitored them all constantly to make sure they didn’t cheat, then saw which group lived the longest or had the least disease over a lifetime,
how could you reach a number?

How about this very radical approach: drink when you’re thirsty. And use your body’s other signals too: if you’re headachy, lethargic, or have kidney problems, those are all way better reasons to take in fluids than some arbitrary number.

This article was originally published in The Times.

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