Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Nutrition News: Is It Possible to Do a “Safe” Juice Cleanse?

man using a juicerJuicing is the process of extracting juice from the flesh or the pulp of a fruit or vegetable. This technique has been used for hundreds of years as a way to maximize nutrient intake by drinking only the juice of various vegetables and fruits. I wanted to get the New Year off to a healthy start and reset my digestive system, so I researched how to complete a “safe” juice cleanse.

The idea of a juice cleanse is pretty simple: all meals and snacks are replaced with juices made from (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables for three to ten days. The main health advantage of a juice cleanse is based on the theory that our bodies are more efficient at metabolizing and excreting toxins when our digestive system is freed from the burden of digesting solid food.

Additional Benefits of Juicing

Here are some additional benefits of juicing:

  • It is an easy way to get your recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies.
  • Since your digestive system does not have to break down the pulp or flesh of the fruit or vegetables, your body rapidly absorbs the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, carbohydrates, chlorophyll, and phytonutrients. This is thought to boost your immune system and prevent disease.
  • Juicing experts believe these nutrients are better absorbed when separated from fiber (most juicers remove the pulp, aka fiber).  

Trying a Three-Day Juice Cleanse

After much research, I decided to try a three-day juice cleanse. It wasn’t the best three days of my life, but here are some of my observations:

  • There are many different juicing recipes to try, and most of them are pretty tasty!* (I discovered that lemon helps reduce the bitterness of dark, leafy greens like kale.)
  • After day two, my cravings for carbs/sweets were greatly reduced. (This was a nice surprise!)
  • Cleaning the produce and the juicer took a lot of work and time. (This got old very quickly as I am the mother of two small children and spend enough time preparing food and cleaning!)
  • My energy did increase, but the first day was rough…I was pretty hungry and grouchy.
  • After three days, I missed food, so I slowly added it back into my diet by eating meals that included whole fruits and veggies, lean protein, and some whole grains. My stomach would ache if I ate processed foods.
  • Even though weight loss was not my goal, I did lose several pounds of water weight. This was expected since our bodies require water to properly digest whole food; if you take away the whole food, your body doesn’t require as much water to complete the digestion process. This can translate to a drop on the scale. However, once you start eating whole food again, the water weight will come right back. (This is a major reason why weight loss should not be a main goal of a juice cleanse.
  • As a Registered Dietitian in corporate wellness, I would only recommend a juice cleanse for a maximum of three days as way to “jump start” habits of eating more whole foods and less processed items.

Disadvantages of Juice Cleanse

There are, however, disadvantages of juice cleanses. For example:

  • Juice cleanses that last longer than three days can cause extreme moodiness, irritability, depression, fatigue, constipation, constant/obsessive thoughts of food, and rebound overeating.
  • Individuals who take medication to regulate their blood sugar or blood pressure should be cautious and consult with their physician before beginning a juice cleanse. Blood sugar levels can quickly rise and fall when drinking juice, and a lack of solid food can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Cleanses are strictly off limits to children or to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If your goal is to eat healthy, you don't need to juice as a way to cleanse or detox your body. Juicing can be an easy way to get in your greens (for instance, without having to eat fistfuls of kale), but juices should be used to complement a balanced diet that includes minimally processed foods, good-quality lean protein, and plenty of whole fruits and vegetables—which, ironically, are the real cleansers. The fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables act like a scrub brush for your digestive tract.

Juice Cleanses: Not a Long-Term Solution

Bottom line, although a juice cleanse could feel like a psychological jump-start to healthy eating, it is not a solution for long-term wellness. Simply put, being healthy is a lifestyle event, not a three- or ten-day adventure.

*Recipes were found on Reboot with Joe or in The Big Book of Juices by Natalie Savona.

Topics: nutrition weight loss antioxidants diet and nutrition energy level healthy diet juicing

Employee Health: Get Fit with Your Kids!

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

family fitnessDo you sometimes feel tired after work, but your children have plenty of energy to burn off? Do you find it difficult to find time for fitness and family life? Try combining them for a new, fun outlook on physical activity. You and your children will benefit! It helps them burn off energy and you will hopefully gain some energy.

I’ve listed some fun and creative ways to get the family involved in a healthier lifestyle:

  • Kids love video games, so look for good deals to purchase a Wii. There is fitness, dancing, boxing, and several other active games to get the entire family involved.
  • Pull out some of your fitness DVDs and make a game out of who can do the most or go the furthest on the workouts.
  • Be a kid again! Play games like kickball, dodge ball, and tag at the local park. Get other neighborhood kids and families involved, too!
  • Find a good trail for a family bike ride.
  • Depending on the season, find an indoor or outdoor pool for swimming and fun pool games.
  • Light strength training is also good for the kids. They don’t need heavy resistance because their bodies are still developing. If you have an onsite corporate fitness facility, talk to the fitness staff for good strength training exercises for kids.
  • Try to walk as much as possible―for example, to the park, to the restaurant, or to school.

What other fun activities have you incorporated while spending time with the kids?

Topics: employee health winter fitness exercise at home fitness corporate fitness centers staying active energy level kids

Employee Health: How Can I Improve My Energy Level?

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

energy, healthy, wellbeing, funIt’s a new year, and you may be eager to start fresh with new resolutions, goals, and a lengthy to-do list. Give yourself the best chance to achieve success by providing your body with the energy it needs!

All too often we have a tendency to let our tired bodies get the best of us. Try out some of these tips to help keep your energy levels on par with your busy lifestyle.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Turn off the computer, TV, and cell phone and turn in early. Grab a power nap during the day, if necessary, which can stave off fatigue.
  • Get moving. Take a brisk walk, complete a quick set of pushups and jumping jacks, or perform some work around the house when you feel your energy lagging. We also tend to skip a planned workout when tired, when in actuality you’ll feel more energized after hitting the gym.
  • Eat smart. Reach for the fruits and vegetables, and avoid refined carbs, which can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash erratically. Eating a variety of nutrients will provide your body with vitamins and minerals (such as iron and magnesium) needed to function.
  • Eat often. Your eating schedule is important as well. Indulge in some breakfast and some healthy snacks between meals, so your body isn’t ever lacking for fuel.
  • Drink up. Dehydration may cause sluggishness, so be sure to hydrate throughout the day.
Topics: employee health exercise nutrition New Year's Resolutions in Action energy level