Expert warns of the dangers of juice cleanses and detoxes

As more details emerged after the shock death of Australian cricket legend Shane Warne at the age of 52 it became clear that the world of fad diets, cleanses, and detoxes is a scary one.

Warne was found unresponsive in his villa after a suspected heart attack in Thailand, with his manager James Erskine afterwards shedding some light on the 'ridiculous' diet the sports star had just finished before his sudden death - in which he "basically only ate fluids for 14 days" in an attempt to get "shredded".

Australian crickter and commentator Shane Warne
Shane Warne died of a suspected heart attack after he had finished a 'liquid diet'. Photo: Getty

Sadly, liquid-diets and juice cleanses remain a popular choice among people wanting to shed some weight quickly.

And while your intentions may be good, what if your simple juice cleanse is actually doing you more harm than good?

Fruit and veg are good for you - so why would living on them albeit in liquified form somehow be bad?

What Juice Cleanses Are - And Why They’re Popular

Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with Functional Nutritionist, Fran Dargaville, to get the lowdown on juice cleanses and detoxes and why they can be dangerous.

“Juice detoxes and cleanses involve solely consuming juice (that could be fruit or vegetable juices or a combination of both) for a period of time, which could be for a single day or multiple weeks,” Fran, who has a Masters Degree in Human Nutrition, specialising in Gut Health, tells us.

juice cleanse and weight loss
Juice cleanses and detoxes remain a popular option for people trying to lose weight. Photo: Getty

“Juice cleanses are so popular because of the health claims made in their marketing, which often promises weight loss, clearer skin, and more energy.

"It can also feel like an easier option for the consumer - all they need to do is consume pre-made juices, instead of having to deal with meal prep or confusion about what’s 'healthy' and what’s not when it comes to other fad diets and detox programs.”

The Dangers of Cleanses

Aside from being a total “night-out” bummer, cleanses/detoxes can actually be bad for your health.

Fran says juice cleanses lack the calories and macro- and micronutrients needed for proper function.

“Juice detoxes are usually very low in calories,” she explains. “The low calorie intake combined with the high sugar intake of juices can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, which may result in fatigue, headaches and poor sleep quality.

woman in discomfort
Fran warns that as juices also contain minimal fibre, cleanses could result in constipation. Photo: Getty

"In addition, little-to-no protein and fat is consumed during a juice cleanse, and these nutrients are required to retain muscle, support brain health, produce hormones, and so much more.”

Fran warns that as juices also contain minimal fibre, cleanses could result in constipation, and also have a psychological impact.

“Juice detoxes can contribute to orthorexia or disordered eating,” Fran warns.

“One of the more serious potential implications of juice cleansing is a loss of electrolytes, which are needed for many critical roles in the body, including proper pH balance, hydration and heart function.”

In the short term, in a healthy individual, Fran says that juice cleanses are unlikely to cause serious health issues, however, when used long-term and/or in susceptible individuals, there is a risk of serious health implications.

juice detox
Juice detoxes can contribute to orthorexia or disordered eating, Fran warns. Photo: Getty

Safe Ways To Detox

So you want to do a “cleanse” but are scared of overdoing it?

Fran has some helpful tips to help you detox in the safest way possible.

“Our bodies have their own inbuilt detoxification processes - including the digestive tract, liver, skin and lungs,” she explains.

“Instead of going for a restrictive 'cleanse', focus on increasing your water intake, adding in more whole foods like fresh fruit and veggies, and reducing your intake of alcohol and processed foods.

"This will help your body detoxify naturally!”

Speak to your Dr

Fran also advises it’s always best to speak with your doctor before getting started on any kind of major change to your diet.

“Try not to get too caught up in fads. If you really want to get the results you’re after, whether that’s weight loss, more energy or clearer skin - eat more whole foods, move your body regularly, and focus on sleep and stress management," she says.

"This approach is more sustainable, and will get you results in the long term.”

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