Holistic Nutritionist Kate Ortak Shares Her Spring Cleanse Journey. Should You Do a Juice Cleanse? #wellbeingwednesday

With so much rebirth and renewal happening all around us, spring is the perfect time to consider a little internal cleanse. It should come as no surprise that our bodies, in tune with nature, are also working on renewal during this season. A detoxifying cleanse is the perfect way to clear out the body after being bundled up all winter long and perhaps indulging a little too much.

For these reasons, I decided to do a short 3-day juice cleanse and share my experience with you. My somewhat unenthusiastic partner came along for the ride. Below are the details on how we went about it, how much it really cost and the time component involved in juicing breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days straight.

The Benefits of Juicing

Fasting, which typically involves consuming no food or drink other than water, anywhere from 3 days up to 2 weeks or longer, can be difficult to stick to. A juice cleanse is a more approachable, easier and gentler option for most people. By consuming fresh, organic and mostly vegetable juices, you allow your body to focus on releasing and processing stored toxins, rather than digesting your food.

These toxins come from many sources including pesticides, air pollution, contaminated water, conventional beauty products, plastic eating containers, among many other sources.

Longer fasts or cleanses may require medical supervision depending on your toxic load but a 3-day juice cleanse is safe for most people and will help your body eliminate these toxins without the adverse side affects typically associated with fasts like lightheadedness, tiredness and headaches.

But why juicing? Can’t you just make smoothies or eat the whole plant? While smoothies and whole fruits and vegetables have all the fibre intact, juicing separates the vitamins and minerals from this fibre. Separating these nutrients makes them more easily accessible which means increased mineral absorption.

As well, it can be difficult for our bodies to absorb certain minerals found in whole fruits and vegetables because of other plant compounds like phytates and tannins. These components bind to minerals so tightly that they cannot be absorbed. By separating the minerals from some of these constituents, we make it easier for them to be absorbed by our bodies.

Lastly, with hardly any work required by the body to absorb these nutrients, the digestive system is given a break and fat stores are broken down for energy. It is these fat stores that contain damaging toxic compounds. By allowing the liver to focus on breaking down and eliminating toxins, rather than processing our food, we give the body a chance to cleanse and detoxify itself.

Green grass with Organic 3D text, isolated on white background.

How Much Does it All Costs

One of the most important aspects when it comes to juicing fruits and vegetables is using organic produce as much as possible. The purpose of a juice cleanse is to help our bodies release and process stored toxins, many of which we acquired through conventionally-grown produce.

As well, when juicing non-organic produce, any poisonous chemicals are concentrated and just as with good nutrients, these chemicals are more easily absorbable. This makes it imperative to buy organic when it comes to your juicing produce.

With this in mind, you may be wondering about cost. To prepare for our juice cleanse, we headed over to Fiesta Farms. As I filled the cart with 5 bunches of carrots, 16 tomatoes, 6 cucumbers, 4 bunches of kale, and so on, my boyfriend grumbled at how much this was all going to cost us.

It takes a lot of produce to create one juice and with two of us drinking 3-4 juices of about 12oz per day, we looked like we were throwing a birthday party for our pet rabbit and about a hundred of her friends.

When it came time to pay, the total was $200 for 3 days for 2 people. At about $33 per day per person, this is somewhat cheaper than the ready-made juice cleanses available at local juiceries, which start at $40/day. When debating about juicing at home or purchasing your daily juices, consider that I spent approximately 1.5-2hrs each morning washing, chopping, juicing and cleaning our ‘meals’ for the day.

In hindsight, I would have payed the extra dollars and purchased a package because when it came to the last day, it wasn’t the lack of solid food that got me, I just got tired of constantly prepping juices. For future cleanses, I plan to save myself the trouble and support one of the many wonderful local juiceries in the neighbourhood.

The Best Vegetables (and Fruits) for Juicing

When making your own juices, it is important to focus on vegetables, rather than fruits. Some fruits like oranges and green apples add great flavour, but with the pulp removed, this increases the speed with which the sugar in these fruits will enter your blood stream.

For the exact reason we want to drink juice – to make minerals more easily absorbable – we also make the sugars more easily absorbable. If you’re only consuming fruit juice all day, your body will be on a constant rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar.

Not only is this bad for your endocrine system, with insulin spiking and crashing, you will also experience the negative symptoms associated with this fluctuation including irritability, anxiety, mood swings, poor concentration, brain fog and insomnia.

A mix of high-mineral veggies like leafy greens and super hydrating vegetables like cucumber is best when making juices.

Dark green leafy vegetables in colanderGreen leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens, kale and even romaine lettuce, are super high in many minerals, especially calcium. Not only can it be difficult to eat large quantities daily but it can also be difficult for your body to break down and absorb all the minerals from the whole food. Juicing makes these minerals more readily available putting leafy greens at the top of awesome juicing vegetables.

Cabbage is another fantastic option for juicing. It is a really cost effective choice plus it’s high water content and excellent detoxification powers make it a winner. While juicing cabbage may not sound incredibly appealing, the sulphurous smell and taste is what’s providing your liver with the nutrients it needs to really get the cleansing and detoxifying job done.

Fresh carrotsSpeaking of taste, carrots are an excellent way to mask the flavour of cabbage as well as the sometimes bitter taste of leafy greens. The natural sweetness is carrots adds a mild yet delicious flavour to any juice while also providing lots of nutrients. Carrots are high in antioxidant compounds called carotenes, as well as vitamin A and vitamin C.

A diet high in carotenes (also found in squash) has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of heart attacks, postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx and esophagus. Additionally, extensive human studies have shown that as little as one carrot per day could potentially cut the rate of lung cancer in half.

Time management

The Best Time to Do a Juice Cleanse

Spring is the best time of year to undertake a juice cleanse. While a cleanse can be started at any time, I recommend starting on a weekend when you can rest. The more rest you have, the greater the opportunity for your body to focus on detoxifying.

While many of the harsher symptoms of a fast such as headaches, lightheadedness and tiredness are mediated with a juice cleanse, we did find ourselves more tired than usual while doing the cleanse. Plan to go to bed early and avoid any strenuous exercise or activity.


My Favourite Juice Recipe

More of a soup really, I found myself looking forward to the cold gazpacho juice. The flavours of tomato, red onion and bell pepper made me feel like I was getting a meal than just liquid.

With 4 large tomatoes, this juice is packed with antioxidants. It has a heart-healthy serving of lycopene, which in large clinical studies, was found to protect the heart by helping to prevent heart attacks. It has also been proven to specifically prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation, meaning it helps to keep the good cholesterol in good shape.

Tomato soup gazpacho in a glass

Juice:

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 large yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 2 handfuls of fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley, basil, dill and cilantro)

Add couple of pinches of pink himalayan salt or sea salt.


Grab-and-Go Cleanses at Local Juiceries

If making your own juices is a little too daunting, no problem! There are several wonderful places around our ‘hood to purchase pre-made juice cleanses. Simply open and enjoy.

Village Juicery – starting at $40/day

Total Cleanse – starting at $45/day

Greenhouse Juice Co. – starting at $69/day