Dental trend spotlight: Juice cleanses

Juice cleanses: a quick way to lose weight and… erode enamel?


Planning on slimming down after the holidays with a juice cleanse? If only it were that simple.

If you’ve never heard of a juice cleanse, think of it as a juice fast. Rather than eating solid food, during a cleanse you only drink juiced fruits and vegetables.

Cold-pressed juice cleanses have gained popularity because of claims they detoxify and slim down the body, increase energy levels and produce a healthy glow. And being purely natural, fruit juice boasts a serious roster of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

Liquify your fruits and get a better body — sounds like a great tradeoff. But does juicing have unforeseen risks?

Do juice cleanses = weight loss?

Juice cleanses sound easy enough: Erase all that indulgent holiday eating by drinking only juice for a week. But anyone who’s done a juice cleanse will tell you they’re not quite that easy or satisfying.

Since juices have fewer calories than a typical meal, giving up solid foods means your caloric intake will significantly decrease. But when you return to your normal diet, be prepared to see those pounds reappear.

Can juicing affect oral health?

Fruit juices contain high levels of natural sugars that, in large, sustained quantities, damage teeth. But it’s not just the sugar that’s harmful. Rather, it’s the oral bacteria that feed on sugar and produce acid that erodes teeth and leads to cavities.

Juice nestles into vulnerable grooves in the mouth, particularly at the gumline and in between teeth. When bacteria and acid accumulate here, it can cause gum irritation and even gum disease.

Plus, during a cleanse you not only give up solid foods, you also give up chewing, which is a saliva-producing function that washes food particles off teeth, out of the mouth and down the esophagus. In the absence of chewing, sugars, as well as citric acid, stay on teeth, triggering enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.

So, if you’re going to juice, here’s how to protect your teeth: 

• Don’t sip juice, drink it. Drinking juice limits prolonged exposure to juice sugars.

• Use a straw. Straws reduce teeth’s contact with juice.

• Drink water. After consuming juice, wash away fruit sugars with H20.

• Brush teeth. Give your teeth about an hour to recover from juice acids before brushing.

• Eat whole fruits. The fiber in fruits stimulates saliva production to help clean teeth.

Does juicing supercharge or subdue?

Due to high sugar levels and insufficient calories, fiber and protein, juice cleanses may lead to nutrient and electrolyte imbalance. Just like when you’re hungry, cleansing provokes issues such as fatigue, headaches, dehydration, blood sugar fluctuations and an inability to concentrate. Also, large amounts of fruit juices can disrupt the digestive process and cause diarrhea, prompting the body to lose the very nutrients it needs to function properly.  

How to detoxify the right way

Even though advocates of juice cleanses swear they feel healthier, lighter and detoxified from juice cleanses, these claims are unproven. There’s no scientific data suggesting juice cleanses are a valid method of detoxification, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Furthermore, unpasteurized juices may actually introduce new bacteria.

So, if juice cleanses don’t detoxify you of holiday cookies, what will?

The truth is the body doesn’t need help detoxifying. In fact, through basic regulatory processes of the liver, kidney and colon, your body is constantly detoxifying itself.

Recover from the holidays by eating everything

Well, not everything. But to guarantee you feel great, look beautiful and slim down after the holidays, consistently eat a well-balanced diet. It’s the best way to ensure your liver, kidney and colon are in fighting shape to naturally detoxify your body.

 The verdict: For the sake of your health and your smile, rethink juice cleanses. Instead, eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables in their natural form. And if you must, opt for an occasional cold-pressed juice as a meal supplement, not a replacement.