Juice Cleanse: Healthy or Inflammatory?

If you’re like a lot of folks chances are you’ll probably be embarking on a cleanse come January. And if you’re reading this post, I bet you are a savvy individual that keeps up with all the latest health trends.

But what if I told you that the typical cleanse, usually involving lots of green juice, could actually be creating inflammation in your body rather than eliminating it?

You’d probably think I was crazy, right?

Well, despite the fact that juice cleanses are not very effective for losing body fat because any weight loss you experience is probably water, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk β€” all of which come back after the cleanse ends – the answer actually lies in the software portion of your DNA.

Your body’s software, known as the epigenome, has evolved over many generations and it decides how some genes choose to express themselves in your body. This process is controlled by methyl groups that bind to your genes and essentially give them their marching orders.

Another way to understand methyl is to think of “her” as a prostitute and genes as johns (forgive the analogy, but it’s effective). Like a prostitute, methyl has the ability to turn genes on and off.1 When methyl is not balanced – perhaps she’s taken on too many clients or is going through a dry spell – we start to see things like food and chemical sensitivities, high anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), imbalanced blood sugar, disordered eating, chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and menstrual disorders to name a few.

Since food greatly influences gene regulation (yes, even foods considered healthy such as spinach), it makes sense that some people experience improvement on fresh pressed juices while others do not.

I have a client who is a CEO for a well-known start-up here in San Francisco. When we first started working together she was very frustrated because she had recently completed a two-week cleanse and didn’t lose a lick of weight. She was also very frightened about what to eat because right before the cleanse ended, she suddenly became plagued by severe anxiety, depression, and obsessive thinking.

After a thorough health history and testing, we uncovered that she was intolerant to folates (in other words, folate-rich foods created an inflammatory response in her body) and very deficient in several key nutrients such as zinc. So I put her on a nutritional therapy plan appropriate for her biochemistry and after a couple of months, the weight started to fall off and the anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts were greatly diminished.

I share this case study because I want to encourage you to really listen to your body and remember to feed your brain first with foods that are appropriate for your unique biochemistry. If you experience a negative reaction (inflammation) from a particular food, no matter how healthy it is, eliminate it from your diet.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your experience been with juice cleansing? I’d really love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

P.S. I’ve got a very exciting surprise for you coming in January that has to do with a world leader in brain health and something to help you thrive in the new year?

[1] Mumper, Elizabeth. (2014). Extracted from Walsh Research Institute Symposium speech.