I have a pretty favorable opinion of the Huffington Post which is why I was surprised to find that their Living Web section retains an article from last year (11-11-13) titled “Do Juice Cleanses Work? 10 Truths about the Fad,” by Melissa Valliant, a journalism major who appears to be focused on debunking popular trends in food and diet as tools for health. I have seen similar articles routinely since I began my own fasting practices in 1968. Unfortunately, there are undoubtedly people making great profit from “Fad” practices, which is why it’s important that knowledge and expertise about the healthful benefits of juice fasts be separated from sensational comments.
As a naturopathic doctor with over thirty years of service dispensing therapeutic levels of food and juicing as medicine, I’m compelled to reply to Melissa Valliant’s article and its conclusions. In “Juice Alive,” my second book on the subject of juicing for health, I presented the history of juicing dating back 2,400 years to the Greek medical practices and even further in the Orient. The fact is that fasting and juice therapy is evidenced in traditional medicine with a very well established history.
“Do Juice Cleanses Work? 10 Truths About The Fad,” begins with Valliant’s perspective including a numbered list of alleged “truths” and ends with Valliant’s conclusion. My response is based on first hand perspective and time-tested conclusions.
Ms. Valliant proceeds with exploring “what is a juice/cleanse fast?” Valliant focuses on non-pasteurized juices, fails to mention the subject of organic produce and ends with a germ phobic discussion of bacterial dangers inherent in non-pasteurized beverages. This method without concise science or studies to validate the claims is commonly utilized. As a result of my clinical practice, I have tens of thousands of days’ worth of clients and patients consuming raw juices with no food born infections resulting.
The article, written by Melissa Valliant, challenges the need for detoxification, and positions that the body is fully capable of detoxifying without assistance. To do so, flies in the face of thousands of studies recognizing the profound health impact of toxins, solvents, agricultural chemicals and heavy metals on the human body’s ability to sustain health. In fact, Valliant ignores the entire field of epigenetics.
Point One: “It’s dangerous for some people”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: People undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, people with nutritional deficiencies and kidney disease should not try a juice fast without strict doctor’s guidance. Moreover, I have taken nearly fifty diabetic patients through juice fasts without sugar rises; such incidents are generally associated with the effects of pasteurized juices or high glycemic cooked foods. Valliant’s seems to source the glycemic load theory, but fails to demonstrate understanding that the theory is based entirely on cooked or pasteurized foods. I have found few programs that better address nutritional deficiencies than the effortlessly digested, concentrated nutrients of raw organic juices. Additionally, Valliant includes comments about electrolyte elevations found with kidney disease. In my experience as a naturopathic physician, I have only found such elevations in people engaging strong pharmaceutical drugs that interfere with normal electrolyte balance. As a N.D. and detox expert, I always recommend that diabetics engage juice fasts under the advice and supervision of a doctor with the appropriate expertise in the field, because of the risks of hypoglycemic changes associated with specific daily medicines. Though advanced kidney disease would also warrant insightful supervision, few therapies are both as safe and as reliable as a well guided raw organic juice fast.
Two: “Juicing is not better than whole fruits and vegetables”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: As we need fiber in our regular whole food diet, valuable quercetin found in the white rinds of citrus can’t be understated. The fact is that it takes 5 pounds of produce to result two pounds (one quart) of juice. Most antioxidants survive juicing and can easily be delivered at a two and a half to one ratio as compared to whole foods. Raw organic juices are one of the most nutrient rich forms of quality food that can be produced. Yet, Valliant excludes beets and carrots alluding blood sugar issues, but these have been the cornerstones of my juice programs for more than thirty years, with no harmful blood sugar consequences.
“Juices are less filling than whole foods”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Valliant should be mindful not to confuse “filled” with “nourished.” I can cite thousands of clients not hungry and satisfied during extended juicing. The science of fasting and my program can be referenced in my books, The Fasting Diet and Juice Alive.
Four: “Juicing can leave out critical nutrients your body needs to function properly”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: From five days to more than a hundred days of juice and water fasting with thousands of patients, I have never seen gluco-neogenesis (protein conversion to sugar; “starvation”) nor encountered electrolyte imbalances as suggested by Valliant’s article. While monitoring and making incremental adjustments during juicing therapies, I have not found blood work and urinalysis showing glucose dumping, ketones or abnormal functioning. Again, what’s important is the level of knowledge and expertise sought to supervise any extended juicing therapy. Indeed, engaging extended juicing frivolously, without qualified supervision, is a bad idea.
Five: “Like most fad diets, a juice fast is not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: When healthful eating habits are created after a fast, weight loss can easily be retained. Diets that create gluconeogenesis, such as: Cambridge and Atkins, often result a yo-yo effect with lowered metabolism. Alternatively, a healthful juice fast does not lower metabolism. The caution is appropriate when after a healthful fast there is a return to the SAD Standard American Diet; as a consequence, obesity, weight gain, increased risks of diabetes, heart disease and cancer return.
Six: “There isn’t really anything to detox”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Vallant fails to acknowledge that pesticide exposure has been shown to cause harm three generations later. Heavy metals are being recognized as neuro toxins and associated with a large number of neurologic diseases. Chemical solvents have been linked with infertility and birth defects. The entire field of epigenetic with methylation defects and impaired hepatic (liver) elimination quantify some of these toxic accumulations with their associated disease outcomes. I recommend that Valliant and others consider the science regarding fasts as relevant scientific studies can be referenced with ease.
Seven: “It’s not cheap”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: More importantly, disease is very expensive. Unlike SAD foods and processed foods, which include hidden costs both financially and physically, organic foods charge the entire cost at the register. SAD food and processed food cost in work loss and illness is generally accepted by most of the scientific community as the major contributor of current “western diseases”.
Eight: “But my friend did it and she said she felt amazing”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: I’ve consistently encountered evidence of the statement. My clients frequently move from a highly acidic state to an alkaline state, and their urine from being saturated with daily toxins (specific gravity of 1.030) to clear urine with ample room to carry out remaining toxins (SG or 1.000 to 1.005), which results in an amazed feeling of a healthier physical state.
Nine: “It’s not going to cure cancer”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Never would I say that fasting will cure cancer, and I would hope that no MD would guarantee that chemotherapy, radiation or surgery will cure cancer. Important to note, conventional medicine defines a cancer cure by survival beyond a certain number of years, determined by the aggressive or slow nature of each cancer development. These cure rates have not changed over the years while earlier diagnosis of cancer have helped rocket success rates of conventional treatments* I have not come across this as a normal claim. Nonetheless, I have seen many cancer patients show improvements through fasting, have seen remarkable changes in some and find that most cancer patients are highly stressed and poorly processing dense foods. The self-digested raw organic juices are a comfort and a superior nutrient source for people with processing impairments.
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Valliant ends with the suggestion that juices can be safely consumed and may have some good. She recommends no long periods of juice diet and cites standard views that fruits, vegetables cereals and grains and lean proteins are our diet of choice. Unfortunately, Valliant failed to mention the value of essential oils, lecithin for brain function and the critical nature of mineral rich organic foods providing zinc for immune health and brain communication, selenium to help prevent cancer and chromium to protect insulin sensitivity and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
In all, Melissa Valliant’s truths have two statements to which I partially agree, however four of her “truths” I consider false, and the balance of her points will offer substance for debate in the next debunking round to come. Most importantly, I will continue with the knowledge of science, and the expertise from an active practice to employ juice fasts therapy along with a variety of healthful treatments known for creating a balanced and energized life.