Ask Dr. Monti: Are Juice Cleanses Good for You?

Answer from Daniel A. Monti, director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital

Dr. Monti

Question: Are juice cleanses good for you?

Answer: I am a big fan of fresh vegetable juices and would encourage everyone to get some in their regular diet. The nutrients and live enzymes can’t be beat, particularly when a variety of vegetables is used. Consume vegetable juices in moderation and be careful to not overdo the sweet juices, such as carrots and most fruits. A general rule is not to juice more than you would eat of the actual plant. For example, two or three large carrots is plenty.

I have mixed feelings about juice “cleanses,” especially for those who are vulnerable to complications. Getting the green light from your physician is important, particularly if you have any medical problems. If you then proceed with such a cleanse, I would advise doing so for no more than a couple of days, and make sure there is enough fluid intake to avoid dehydration. Also, if any symptoms arise, such as diarrhea, vomiting, light-headedness, etc., discontinue the cleanse immediately and consult your doctor.

The digestive system is complex and symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn and other discomforts are common, which is why there are so many advertisements for over the counter and prescriptive aids. For optimal digestive health, I suggest a plant-based diet. Note that the commercials never show digestive discomfort after eating a plate of steamed asparagus. Several vegetables, particularly leafy greens, have maximal value when eaten raw, but it is important to clean them thoroughly and chop them. The smaller the particles, the better you will digest them and the more nutrients you will absorb. Some plants digest better if lightly cooked, such as broccoli, legumes and others. Make a commitment today to add just one extra daily helping of vegetables to your diet, whether a salad or a glass of freshly juiced vegetables, and your body will thank you.

ASK DR. MONTI: E-mail Dr. Monti your question here, and he could answer it an upcoming blog post! Dr. Monti is Director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the author of “The Great Life Makeover.” Read more about him here.

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