With the New Year having just passed, the theme of cleansing and detoxing is a popular concept. But just as we have an overwhelming number of different miracle diets available, there also seems to be just as many trendy cleansing options as well. At the top of this long list of cleansing phenomenons, is the ever-so-popular juice cleanse. In truth, one diet is not going to be appropriate for every-body, just as one cleanse will not be a healthy option for every individual as well.
According to Ayurveda, we all are unique individuals with unique characteristics. These characteristics are governed by the energetic forces of Vata, Pitta and Kapha and also are determined by the particular ratio of the 5 elements that we each possess. Depending on our body-type (Prakrutti) along with our current state of imbalance (Vikrutti), this will be the best indicator for whether a specific cleanse is a healthy choice for you.
5 Reasons to Avoid a Juice Cleanse:
1. Inappropriate season.
If you are planning to perform a juice cleanse and it is during the Fall or Winter months, this could end up causing you more harm than good. Raw juice is cold, light and drying; the very same qualities that these seasons possess. In the colder months of fall and winter, our body craves warm, well-cooked, spiced and mushy meals (i.e. soups, stews, casseroles, oatmeal). Taking in only cold, raw juice will therefore lead to enhanced symptoms of cold, dryness, insomnia, anxiety, spaciness and overall depletion. Therefore, if appropriate, a juice cleanse should ONLY be performed during the warmer seasons of the late Spring and Summer months.
2. Vata Constitution or current Vata Imbalance.
If you are a Vata type or have a current Vata imbalance, then a juice cleanse is NOT a good choice for you. Vata carries the qualities of the Air and Space elements, the same qualities of the raw juice. Taking in only raw juice for an allotted amount of time will typically cause symptoms such as increased anxiety, worry, excessive thinking, dry skin, gas, bloating, constipation, spaciness, insomnia and other Vata disorders. Vata individuals should never perform a solely fluid cleanse, as they tend to need substance in there everyday diet. A better detox option for Vata is a simple mono-diet cleanse such as a Kitchari Cleanse.
3. Heavy on the digestion.
This may be a bit confusing to people, as it seems like something like juice should be simple to digest, but in fact this is the opposite case. Raw juice, being cold and rough in quality, typically will cause an adverse affect on the digestion causing gas, bloating, cramping and constipation. These are clear signs of indigestion, which is major cause of toxins. Therefore, a juice cleanse can end up weakening the digestion which is the whole point of a cleanse in the first place.
4. Too much sugar!
Most raw juices will contain sweet fruits and veggies such as apples, oranges, coconut water, carrots and beets to help balance the flavor and make it more palatable. Unfortunately, these juices are extremely high in sugar content and will cause a major blood sugar spike to your system. During a raw juice cleanse, there is no fiber or other solid substances being taken in, causing this spike to be even more detrimental than ever.
5. May cause major depletion.
Although most all cleanses are depleting to some extent, a raw juice cleanse takes the cake (along with the master cleanse and a water fast). Kapha types** may be able to handle this best out of the 3 dosha types, but for a Vata or Pitta individual, this can be so depleting it may take weeks to recover your strength and energy post-cleanse. These two body types need substance in their diet due to their high metabolism and tendency toward low blood sugar. If you deprive your body of this vital substance and nutrients for a prolonged amount of time, you will only be left feeling weak, tired and spacey. The digestive tract is often left depleted as well and will take some time to get back on tract.
**Kapha types do better with liquid fasts or cleanses (compared to Vata and Pitta); however, juice cleanses are still not recommended for Kapha individuals if there is high sugar content. Instead bitter, astringent and spicy vegetable juices would be a healthier option.
As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I have taken many individuals through cleanses of different intensities depending on their specific needs and their desired results. No cleanse is going to be right for every individual, so it is important to establish what type of cleanse is appropriate for you.
In Ayurveda we typically perform the Kitchari mono-diet cleanse, which can last from 3-10 days and may also be accompanied by herbal treatments to enhance the effects.
The main benefits of a Kitchari cleanse include:
- Can be performed anytime of year, although is best during the transitional seasons Spring and Fall
- Can be modified to fit all body/dosha types
- You get to eat as much as you desire during this time, really!
- Has a specific regimen for easing into the cleanse (pre-cleanse) and methods for the transition out of it (post-cleanse)