Research on weight loss is mixed. In a 2017 study, 20 people were given six bottles of juices for three days. The juices contained greens such cucumber, spinach, kale and celery, along with apple, ginger, beetroot, plus one drink made from dates and almond milk, up to 1,300 calories a day.
The juice fasters did lose, on average, nearly four pounds in a week. Two weeks later, after going back to their usual diet they were still 2lb lighter. However, they weren’t followed up later, and a review of studies by the National Institutes of Health, also in 2017, found that while juice and detox diets do lead to short-term weight loss, when people go back to their normal way of eating, their weight rebounds too.
For Katia Narain Phillips, co-founder of the mushroom supplement drink brand Phyto Nectar, a 24-hour stint of vegetable juices acts to reset her eating, rather than lose weight. “It gives me time to pause to ask myself: what am I eating that doesn’t work for me? And because I feel so good afterwards, I don’t reach for the kids’ crisps.”
Can juicing cure skin problems?
Another key reason people juice is to clear up their skin. Online, you’ll find plenty of anecdotal evidence for this, although again there’s little research. Georgie Wolfinden, host of wellness podcast The Agent’s Secret, says her persistent acne cleared up after three weeks of daily freshly made green juices on top of food. “I ended up juicing every day for a year as I saw such an improvement in my skin,” she says. “The best thing was that I was finally able to come off Roaccutane [capsules].”
Dr Thivi Maruthappu, the UK’s first consultant dermatologist and nutritionist, sees a lot of clients who have tried juice cleanses for skin. “I’ve had a lot of patients tell me they’ve tried a juice cleanse to get rid of a skin concern, often eczema, psoriasis or acne. However, I haven’t seen it work. Even if someone’s skin condition did improve during the cleanse, having only juice is not sustainable.”
However, she does think juice has benefits, but in conjunction with a good diet. “I know juice is lacking in fibre, but I have a very fibre-rich diet,” she says. In her book SkinFood: Your 4 Step Solution to Healthy Skin, her Glowing Green Juice recipe contains celery, ginger, cucumber, lemon, apple and pear, although she will use whatever vegetables are in the fridge.
“It’s difficult to have as much fruit and vegetables as we’d like to,” she says. “While you can’t eat, for example, seven carrots, you can drink their juice. You get a big influx of vitamins B and C as well as minerals and the phytochemicals from brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. These, like beta carotene in carrots, are good for skin, especially for radiance.”
Dr Maruthappu makes her own juices for maximum freshness. And for the best effect, evidence suggests that juice is best when freshly pressed and drunk within the next few hours. Most juices that hang around in a chiller have been pasteurised; both heat and time on the shelf cut the levels of water-soluble vitamins, including vitamin C but also B vitamins.
“Think about how fast an apple goes brown and oxidises,” says Pippa Campbell. “The same is true of a juice. If you are going to have juice, make sure it’s mostly vegetables and, if you can, have it freshly squeezed and with food, too.”
Have you done a juice detox? Let us know in the comments