“Juice Fasts” could bring unwanted side effects

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DENVER -- Kick-start a healthy diet, cleanse your system, and lose weight. Those are the claims that have a lot of people turning to “juice fasts.”

They involve drinking nothing but vegetable juice for anywhere from three to 90 days.

“You’re taking an enormous amount of fruits and vegetables, pounds of them, and taking the fiber out,” explains Dr. Connie Sanchez, a naturopath who often recommends juice fasts to her patients. “It goes to all the tissues, all the cells, you absorb it very, very quickly and it’s really about giving nutrition, superior nutrition, to all the cells.”

That nutrition boost sounded exactly like what Westminster mom Stacy Golden needed.

“I would have this low energy,” she said. “And I just thought, ‘I’m really too young to be having these issues’.”

So with help from her doctor, Golden embarked on a juice fast. She created her own cocktails, juicing vegetables like chard, spinach, and kale with pineapples and apples. For 21 days she drank nothing but that juice.

The results:

“My hair stopped falling out. I’ve resolved the digestion issues that I’ve had for many, many years, and the energy is just…I’m up a couple of hours every night after the kids go to bed just doing stuff,” Golden told us.

The outcomes are enticing, but Dr. Jeffry Gerber, a family physician who focuses on healthy weight loss, said juicing does have some risks.

“You’re consuming, perhaps, nutrients, vitamins, phytonutrients. But you’re missing essential proteins and fats,” he said. “This will tend to cause loss of lean body mass, loss of bone mineral. It would be risky for people who are particularly overweight, pre-diabetic, prone to heart disease, or already have heart disease because fasting is a very stressful situation on the body.”

So what about all of those claims about cleansing?

“I don’t see it as a benefit,” Gerber said. “There’s no evidence that we need to rest our intestine. We were designed to eat, and to eat the right foods.”

For Golden, juicing was the kick-start she needed to start eating those healthy foods.

“I don’t eat meat a lot anymore,” she said. “I haven’t had sugar since the end of February. I haven’t had dairy, and I haven’t had wheat.”

And she even shares some of the leftover juice with her two young sons.

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