Juice Cleansing: Experiencing the Latest Health Trend

Westchester Magazine interns visit Andy’s Pure Foods, O2 Living, and Jnana’s Organics to determine whether the latest health craze is worthy of its hype.



Due to the growing popularity of juice cleansing, three writers from Westchester Magazine embarked on a three-day juice journey. They ordered their juice cleanses from three popular Westchester County juice bars: o2living, Andy’s Pure Food, and Jnana Organics. During their cleanses they recorded their progress, their results and—most of all—their feelings. After they were finished, they spoke with three Westchester nutritionists about whether or not the cleanse fad is worth joining. So, through some first-hand experience and some expert recommendations, let’s find out if these juice cleanses are all they’re cracked up to be. Here are the writers’ day-by-day "detox diaries." 
 

O2 Living Juice Cleanse

About me, Ilana:
After spending the last four months eating my way through just about every restaurant and gelateria in Florence, Italy, I vowed to be healthier this summer. Since returning, I’ve spent the last month enjoying all the foods I missed while in Italy, so a juice cleanse sounded like the perfect way to finally kick start my healthy summer. Although I love food — everything about it — I was very optimistic about the cleanse…maybe too optimistic, it turns out. Having lived in a sorority house for a year and a half where life revolved around the kitchen, I realized that my friends and I are often social eaters. After an evening at the library, we would spend hours in the kitchen, laughing, talking, and eating whatever was in the fridge or pantry that night. When it comes to being around people who are eating, I know my chastity is, well, non-existent. Therefore, I chose three workdays to embark on my juice cleanse, as not to be tempted, or tortured, by my friends’ eating.
 

The cleanse:

Upon Waking: 8oz glass of water

10:30am: Green Vitality – cucumber, celery, fennel, curly kale, Lacinato kale, parsley, Himalayan salt, lemon.

12:30pm: Lemon Twist – ginger, lemon, apple

2:30pm: Red Radiance – strawberry, apple, Red beet

4:30pm: Green Vitality

6:30pm: Carrot Kick – carrot, pineapple, Yellow Beet

8:30pm: Almond Envy – almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, dates

Price: $210 ($70/day)
 

Day 1
My optimism about the juice cleanse was slightly squashed when I opened my first juice. I’m not a “vegetable person,” and can’t think of more than three vegetables off the top of my head that I actually like, so the Green Vitality was definitely a challenge. I spent my first day slowly nursing each juice for almost an hour, with a lot more energy and a lot less hunger than I expected. The first day was the most exciting, as I looked forward to trying each new flavor, hoping that maybe one would magically taste like a chocolate milkshake. I returned home from work at 6pm with a burst of energy and contemplated what to do with the rest of my night. I usually head to spin after work, but I knew I wouldn’t last through the class, so without working out and eating, I had lots of free time on my hands.
 

Day 2
Although I’m a sucker for iced coffee, I go through stages of addiction, so swearing off caffeine for three days didn’t really concern me. I definitely missed my morning cup, but woke up feeling refreshed after a surprisingly great night’s sleep. Within two hours, withdrawal began, and I had a headache that lasted through the better part of the day. After work, I tried to distract myself by watching a movie with one of my friends, but by the time I got home, my stomach was growling and I was seriously doubting whether or not I would be able to make it through the last day of my cleanse.
 

Day 3
Everyone in the office was purposely teasing me today. That, or it was Bring Delicious Baked Goods to Work Day. I was greeted by a morning delivery of cronuts, followed by a giant box of mouthwatering cupcakes. Dessert definitely falls into the category of top-five favorite foods, so this was a struggle. Luckily, my taste buds got used to Green Vitality, and although it went down much easier on my last day, I was happy to bid this concoction adieu. When it came time for the cleanse’s last obstacle, I excitedly slurped it down, knowing that solid food was only hours away. 
 

Pros:

  • I found out I love food
  • Felt less bloated; looked thinner; lost four pounds

Cons:

  • I don’t like being hungry
     

Andy’s Juice Cleanse: A Three-day Battle

About me, Jackie the Brave (I’ve given myself this nickname post-cleanse):

Cleanses promise a lot of things: clearer skin, better health, restful sleep, detoxification, and even a sharper mental outlook. Seeing its rapid growth in popularity, I wanted to experience this fad and its claimed health benefits for myself. I thought the cleanse would be easy for me because I am already a pretty healthy person – I eat a vegetarian diet, live an active lifestyle, and have a willpower of steel when it comes to sweets (most of the time). My main vice is coffee. I like to call myself a coffee connoisseur, but what that really means is that I’m a huge coffee addict. When Andy Ortiz, owner of Andy’s Pure Foods, first described the cleansing process he told me I wouldn’t be able to have coffee while cleansing…immediately the upcoming three days of cleansing looked bleak. How would I survive without food and without my morning cup?
 

The cleanse:

Andy’s Juice Cleanse — Andy’s Pure Foods (46 Purchase St., Rye, (914) 967-2332)

Upon Waking: Coconut Water

8 am – 9 am: Green Drink – collard greens, celery, cucumber, and lemon juice (150 calories)

10:30 am – 11:30 am: Electrolyte Lemonade – raspberry, lemon, agave, Himalayan salt, olive oil, and water (60 calories)

1 pm – 2 pm: Red Drink – beets, kale, celery, apple, cucumber, parsley, spinach, lemon, ginger, and Romaine lettuce (200 calories)

3 pm – 4 pm: Green Drink – kale, celery, apple, cucumber, parsley, spinach, lemon, ginger, and Romaine lettuce (150 calories)

4 pm – 5 pm: apple, pineapple, and Mint Drink (200 calories)

6 pm – 8 pm: Nut Milk – almond, water, agave, and cinnamon (300 calories)

Price: $150 ($50/day)
 

Day 1
I woke up and immediately drank my young coconut with a straw as my roommate looked at me incredulously. I felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway or like I was on an island drinking tropical drinks by the waterfront... I even thought: Hey, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad! Except for, you know, my not being on a tropical island. I skipped my ritualized morning coffee fix and instead imbibed the cleanse’s first green drink. It tasted healthy and refreshing, leaving me feeling satisfied. Lunchtime marked the beginning of my caffeine cravings as I sat staring smugly at everyone else in the office drinking a beautiful, warm, delicious cup of coffee. The rest of the day was a blur muddled by headache, hunger, and fatigue. I couldn’t even bring myself to go shopping or do laundry that night. Coooffeeeeee please.

 

Day 2
I woke up feeling refreshed, not as ravenous as I thought I would feel. But by noon I am hungry. I walk past a plate of bagels leftover from a meeting and feel sad. Coworkers walk by me with ice cream sandwiches and I feel sad. The afternoon drinks did fend off the hunger pains, but vitamins, water, and sugar can only drive away hunger for so long. But by two in the afternoon I have the worst headache I’ve ever had. I have to have caffeine…I walk to the kitchen and make a small cup of green tea and the headache subsides. That night I interview artists in a small, hilly town. As I walk up the hills I feel like I’m going to pass out—my breath gets heavier, and I don’t have the energy to talk that much. Drama. I sulk back to the car where I lethargically open my bag of juice and drink the nut milk. It fills me up and I don’t feel as awful as I had before.

 

Day 3
The morning was way better than I expected, I woke up with energy and wasn’t too hungry. I can do this! I left for work with a can-do attitude and the wonderful promise of solid foods tomorrow. But, like how the previous two days went, by three pm I felt awful. I looked at the red drink with disgust, even mumbling angry words to the bottle itself as if it could hear me – “I hate you, red drink.” My head hurt, my body was weak, I was so hungry. I finished day three, but barely. Downing the last nut milk I felt like a champion who needed sleep and food.

 

Pros:

  • Helped me re-evaluate how much coffee I drink
  • Cleared my skin
  • I felt less bloated and tense

Cons:

  • No protein or fiber, so I felt tired
  • I like to eat food
     

Jnana Organics 3-Day Juice Cleanse

About me, Emma:
This past year, I’ve heard a lot of chatter about juice cleanses from my friends and family. Since the feedback was both positive and negative, I told myself that I would try one out and see what the deal is. Being a college student, I try to eat healthy and exercise as much as possible but, for several reasons, I often get off track. Finding healthy food options in the dining hall is sometimes difficult, and making the trek to the gym always seems inconvenient. Additionally, I definitely have a sweet tooth, and I’m easily tempted to eat any and every dessert put in front of me — if you have chocolate, I’ll attack. I am hoping that doing a juice cleanse will spur motivation to resume a healthy lifestyle.
 

The cleanse:

Jnana’s 3-day juice cleanse — Jhana’s Organics (255 N Bedford Rd., Mount Kisco, (917) 592-8360)

Six non-pasteurized juices (16 oz each) every day.

  • 3 Green Drinks - cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, fennel, Green apple, and Lemon (125 calories each)
  • 1 Carrot-beet Drink - carrot, beet, celery, parsley, ginger, and apple (175 calories)
  • 1 Lemonade - lemonade with fresh-pressed aloe, apples, and ginger (60 calories)
  • 1 Coconut-almond Mylk - Coconut Almond Chia Mylk with vanilla bean, and cinnamon (150 calories)

Price: $180 ($60/day)

According to the brochure…”This cleanse program will provide your body with all the vitamins, minerals and live enzymes your body needs; while allowing yourself to detox. This process will lead to renewed energy and a heightened awareness about the foods you eat and their effect on you."
 

Day 1
The night before my cleanse, I was feeling both nervous and unsure about giving up solid food for the next 3 days. I wasn’t very confident that I would be able to survive on just 18 bottles of juice. I had experimented with my diet before—eliminating carbs, meat, and processed foods—but nothing as extreme as what was to come. Since I was doing the cleanse over the weekend, I slept in and had my first green juice at 10am. It took only one gross, salty sip to question my decision. But, as my taste buds got used to it, it wasn’t so bad. I just imagined that I was drinking a liquid salad and I felt better. The other drinks, fortunately, didn’t turn out so bad. The carrot-beet was slightly sweet, the lemonade was delicious, and the coconut-almond Mylk tasted like a healthy milkshake. Throughout the day I was very hungry, but as soon as I took my mind off the cleanse, I felt fine. Being distracted during the day was the key to remaining sane during this process.
 

Day 2
I had survived day one! When I woke up on the second day, I felt great. My stomach felt flatter, my skin was glowing, and I was energized. Ironically, I had a dream that I was eating a feast, which I found funny. As the day progressed, my stomach was constantly growling and I was craving food. However, I felt a heightened sense of self-control and I was confident that I’d be fine. I decided to meet up with some friends in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, they were all eating lunch and I just sat there drinking my carrot-beet juice as the delicious sandwiches and fruit salad taunted me. By the end of the day, I felt sluggish and lazy. I went to bed hoping that tomorrow would start out better again.
 

Day 3
On my final day of the cleanse, I woke up feeling extremely dizzy and weak (nothing like the day before). I was immediately discouraged and felt that I’d had enough. Despite my pessimism, I drank my green juice and promised to stay on track. As the day went on, I felt slightly better than I did when I woke up, but I still had no energy. I couldn’t even imagine walking outside—it was nearly 90 degrees—or doing anything that required effort. Thinking about eating consumed my thoughts and I couldn’t wait to be done with this cleanse.
 

Pros:

  • I can control my temptations!

Cons:

  • Complaints are for the weak

 

Conclusion (with opinions from nutritionists):

The basic question we asked as ourselves as we entered our dietary experiment was, to do a juice cleanse or not to do a juice cleanse? To help answer this question, on top of the information we gathered first-hand, we also sought educated opinions of Westchester-based nutritionists. Here are their opinions.

Natural health specialist Neda Smith thinks juice cleaning can be a great option, but it’s not for everyone. The problems of juice cleanses arise when they cause hunger, mood swings, and severe exhaustion. “For most of us, our bodies need a lot more than just sugar and vitamins, which is what you are getting out of your juice,” Smith explained. She urges people to instead try a cleanse with real food so that the body can have respite from junk food and digest healthy, wholesome foods – without sacrificing the fiber and protein.

Allison Tannenbaum (MF, RD) of Nutrion4Life is not sold on the juice-cleansing craze. “Juice cleanses and detoxes are basically fad diets. Anyone who is on a juice cleanse for an extended period of time runs the risk of omitting essential nutrients when cutting specific food groups from their diet,” Tannenbaum states. She also warns against the low calorie content of cleanses, explaining that the body might go into starvation mode after several days of the diet, consequently decreasing its natural metabolic rate.

Nutritionist Lauren Caglisotro says that while she sees benefits to juice cleansing, she thinks they’re unnecessary and expensive. Some of the benefits of juice cleansing include heightened awareness of the foods put into the body, increased ability to register fullness, and amplified energy levels because the body takes a break from the digestion process. Juice cleanses have negative effects as well. Such as decreased fiber intake and lack of substantial nutrition. According to Caglisotro, “Cleanses are expensive short-term fixes that do not provide adequate nutrition to build a healthy body. They also do not teach long-lasting healthy behaviors.”

If you’re still unsure whether or not to do a juice cleanse after reading this I am going to offer some advice…

If you’re a person who functions well on a high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diet and are not diabetic, a juice cleanse could be beneficial to you. However, if you do well on a high-protein, fibrous diet I would definitely re-think doing a cleanse.

Do not do a juice cleanse as a method to lose weight! While you might lose three to four pounds (or more) of water weight it will be short-term and not enough to promote a lasting lifestyle of healthy eating, which is necessary to achieve weight loss goals. A juice cleanse should be done as a powerful kick-start to a healthy diet, to re-hydrate yourself, give your body a break from digesting junk foods, and replenish your body with vitamins.

Don’t for more than three days – or you might mess with your metabolism! There is the possibility if you are on a low calorie, juice diet that after three days your body might go into starvation mode and slow down your natural metabolic rate

My last piece of advice: If you do decide to cleanse – it will be hard, prepare yourself. Don’t start cleansing after a week of caffeine drinking, binge eating, or any other type of gluttonous indulgence. Ease yourself in to a healthy lifestyle so that when you end your cleanse you don’t return to merely return to that former unhealthy pattern.

I end with the motto of Andy’s Pure Food: “Let thy food be thy medicine.”

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