The benefits of natural juices – be them organic, cold-pressed, store bought or homemade – are quietly but steadily winning the good fight against chemical laden ‘diet’ sodas we’ve always turned to for that little not so guilt free pick-me-up. Juice cleanses are becoming well established in the health world but even so, the prospect of giving up solid food for a number of days is still a little daunting for even the most nutritionally conscious of people. Especially a food-loving, vegetable munching, peanut butter by the spoon guzzling food-lover like me…
My focus, like many Hip & Healthy readers, is very much a strong and healthy outlook that’s not bound by calories, and far far removed from the ratio of carbs minus Weight Watchers points multiplied by the square root of Atkins that has trapped women and men the world over for decades.
The thinking that has captured a more informed, self-empowered community with ever-growing fervour is that on a very basic level, we are entirely made up of cells, as is the food we eat. The food we eat slowly and literally becomes us. Therefore if our food is full of toxins, chemicals, artificial ingredients and things that sound like they were intended for outer space, we simply cannot function properly, we will not be at our optimum, we will not be focussed or maintain clarity in our day to day lives. For every advocate of this, there is a skeptic, and for many, the moderation is key theory works. But the evidence of the extremes of this is plain for all to see – we as a nation are pretty sick, tired and sad.
So if the collective ‘we’ are all about nourishing ourselves with natural ingredients, why the sudden and popular desire to give up food entirely for a given number of days?
A juice cleanse is not a faddy diet and should not be seen as such, nor undertaken as such. It’s a way to reset the system, give the liver a rest (it’s the liver’s job to detoxify us of all those nasties we inhale/ingest/imbibe in the modern world on a day-to-day basis. Tough job) and remove all the blocked bits that are clogged up by too many nights on the Sauvignon and one too many slices of generic office birthday cake. A (SHORT) cleanse will return your body back to its factory settings, while the very nature of juice means that the fuel it provides is quickly accessed by the body, giving it a little rest from its normal heavy-duty task of endless digestion. I had been curious about it for a while and the daily grind of running around a busy city left me reaching for the bottle. The juice bottle mind. Six a day, to be precise.
Newly launched Nurture juices were kind enough to let me try their 3 Day Cleanse – 18 juices, raspberry protein powder and pre & probiotic sachets. Slightly daunting; yes eating well is one thing, but with eating well you can invariably eat a LOT. Still – clear skin, sparkly eyes, a rested system and detoxed liver was something I was more than ready for.
I managed to choose the day after I’d cycled 54 miles to Brighton as the day to start the cleanse (clever), so I woke up HUNGRY. I had to be careful not to sink the first of my six juices in one go. Instead I sipped thoughtfully, enjoying the taste of pink grapefruit, coconut water and himilayan rock salt. Nonetheless, I’m very much a breakfast person and I found myself reaching for the second juice 90 minutes later.
The six juices are designed to give you all the nutrients you need in a day – and a whopping 10 portions of fruits and vegetables. Each and every one of them tasted amazing – they were all different, and all delicious – packed with natural yumminess that covered everything from immune boosting to anti-imflammatory to system alkalising. I was fairly surprised to find my favourite was the ‘Replenish’ Juice – a lovely mix of delightfully fresh but really nutrient dense spinach, kale, apple, cucumber, celery, parsnip and orange. That day I won’t lie – I was a hungry lady and sank a fair amount of herbal tea to keep me from reaching for anything more substantial. I busied myself at work, but it was stubborn pride at not falling at the first hurdle that got me through the first day
A combination of things made day two much easier – being busy at work, being used to not eating, my body relaxing into the cleanse… I looked forward to each juice but was happy to find that the hunger pangs had fully subsided. Of course I was peckish, but my stomach wasn’t growling. Knowing that I couldn’t eat any food whatsoever made the team biscuits incredibly easy to pass up; there was none of the ‘oh just one then’ moral dilemma that normally ensues at the waft of a chocolate hobnob. I even managed to refrain from ordering in my favourite vegan restaurant when I inadvertently suggested to my hungry vegetarian friends that we give the spot a try. Rather predictably, a cleanse is not conducive to a packed social calendar. Friends and colleagues questioned how on earth I was functioning, but honestly I felt great. I was focused and I had energy and I felt wide awake. The theory behind this is that the very nature of juice means that the nutrients from each one can be absorbed quickly with minimal effort by the body, which speeds up the detoxifying and alkalising process.
I was fully expecting some sort of serious energy lag on day three, but I instead cycled into town, did a full gym workout and popped off to work before sinking the first juice. I KNOW. I definitely felt less bloated than normal and there were a lot of ahem… ‘movements’ due to all the fibre in the juice. I bounded my way through a day of apple, mango, kale, lemon, spinach, cucumber, apple, beetroot, carrot, ginger, blueberry and the rest and couldn’t quite believe it when I got to the evening and was having to think about the food I would need for breakfast the next day. My body DID feel rested, and cleansed, content and full of life. I’m sure that another few days and the reduction in calories would have left me more than a little sleepy but I honestly after three days felt revived, not deprived.
Post-cleanse I sussed that it probably wasn’t a good idea to immediately laden my body with a truck load of stodge, so for the first breakfast I griddled some veggies and added a bit of tahini, and did the same for lunch with an egg for protein.
The Nurture cleanse absolutely got me out of a digestive lull – I found myself wanting much smaller portions and I was 100% craving nutrients the whole time; not cakes, bread and biscuits. My blood sugars remained stable and my insulin needs were definitely lower through the week. After my initial reservations I was seriously surprised at how amazing it made me feel, and I would now happily cleanse every 1-2 months from here on in to give my body a rest and reap the benefits.
The three day Nurture Juice Cleanse costs £170.99,
It is advised that you consult your doctor or medical professional before embarking on a drastic change of diet.
words by Jen Grieves