Interested in losing weight and feeling generally healthier overall but don’t want to spend hundreds on a selection of fancy, pressed juices?
Well, apple juice may just be the answer. Apple juice is easy to come by, it’s cheap and it’s delicious. It may be a good option for a juice cleanse if you’re looking for a cost-effective and simple solution.
I’ve had a good look into why apple juice may be a good option for cleansing and the risks vs benefits of switching out the popular kale for the humble apple.
What Is A Cleanse?
So before we dive right into what actually is an apple juice cleanse, let’s discuss juice cleanses, what they are and why are people so interested in them?
Using juices to promote good health can be traced back for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine advocates the use of certain juices (like celery) to treat a host of ailments. Fruit and vegetable juices are popular today in the western world but have recently gained a lot of interest as a potential weight loss aide and overall health booster.
So what actually is a juice cleanse?
Well, a juice cleanse or juice fast is where only juice or liquid is consumed in place of solid food. This is done over a 1 to 3 day period (sometimes lasting as long as 1 week) and supposedly helps eliminate toxins for your body.
Juiced fruit and vegetables are prepared by pressing or crushing the plant to completely break it up. This releases all the liquid containing vitamins, sugars, and enzymes and the tough, chewy, fibrous material is separated.
This makes for quicker absorption of the vitamin containing liquid when the juice is consumed.
Supposed Benefits Of A Cleanse
Juicing is said to detox your body, give your immune system a boost and aid in digestion. There are many other health claims that surround juicing but the issue is that none of these are backed by any research. Many people will anecdotally claim that juicing makes them lose weight and feel better afterwards.
The juice itself certainly contains plenty of vitamins which are essential to include in your diet. The fruit or vegetable sugars are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream so you will get a quick boost of energy after drinking juice.
The issue is that your microflora (tiny bacteria) that line your gut are actually a key component in food digestion. They work to break down your food and make available all the goodness that’s contained within it. They are often key players in making the vitamins useful to your body.
They also regulate your immune system and if your gut microflora is out of balance then you are much more prone to infections and inflammation. These bacteria need fibre to survive and juicing apples removes all the good fibre from the fruit. This is where the “aids in digestion” claim falls a bit short.
Whilst a one off juice cleanse for a healthy individual may cause short term benefits, it definitely shouldn’t become an integral part of your diet.
Risks Of A Cleanse
Before taking part in any radical change to your diet it’s important to weigh up the risks compared to the benefits. It’s always best to consult your doctor before undertaking a juice cleanse. If you suffer from any illnesses, are pregnant or on any medications then it’s even more important to consult your doctor before starting.
Here are some other side effects to consider before starting a cleanse.
Oxalate is found in a lot of ingredients that go into juices (especially leafy greens). Too much oxalate leads to kidney stones which are extremely painful and can cause serious health implications.
If the juice hasn’t been pasteurized (heated enough to kill off any bugs) then bacteria in the juice can cause a nasty infection. A lot of juice for cleanses is sold unpasteurised to keep the plant enzymes intact and although these do have health benefits, you’re not going to gain from them if you’re very sick.
Low Blood Sugar
The low calorie content of a juice cleanse will cause your blood sugar levels to drop significantly between juice consumption. As the fibre is removed during juicing this means that there’s non of the slow release carbohydrates left. The sugars are absorbed quickly so you’ll get an initial spike in blood sugar but nothing is left to sustain these levels. If you suffer from diabetes or are on any medications that affect your blood sugar levels then consult your doctor before considering a juice cleanse.
Why Apple Juice?
An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a phrase that’s true to its word. Apples are packed full of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre which all work together to keep your body healthy and working as it should.
Apple juice is a good DIY option for juice cleansing as it’s available readily at grocery stores and online. Apples are a cheap and simple ingredient and great if you have a juicer at home as well.
The downside with apple juice is, unfortunately, it loses the fibre from the fruit so it’s more concentrated with fruit sugars. This is not good if you suffer from diabetes or any other illness that affects your blood sugar levels. These sugars can also lead to dental decay if consumed regularly.
Apples do contain good antioxidants called polyphenols, so these will help reduce inflammation everywhere in the body. These polyphenols have been linked to good heart health. This is because they help regulate cholesterol in your blood so lessen chances of developing heart disease. Unfortunately, these benefits are only seen if the fibre from the apples is also eaten as well so only whole apples or cloudy apple juice, not clear apple juice.
Apples are high in water content and when juiced they form a very effective, hydrating liquid. Diluted apple juice is often used to help re-hydrate people after bouts of vomiting, diarrhoea and after exercise.
It’s important that the apple juice is diluted when used to re-hydrate as concentrated apple juice is high in sugar. This sits in your gut and actually draws water in leading to diarrhoea and dehydration.
So apple juice has some nutritional benefits but also some health concerns. It’s important to consider how the apple juice is made as well.
Cloudy Vs Clear Apple Juice
When apple juice is made the apples are pressed and spun down. With clear apple juice all the pulp is removed by using special enzymes. With cloudy varieties, some pulp is left in. This is important as the pulp contains much more of the beneficial polyphenols. If health benefits are your main concern then opt for cloudy varieties.
Look out for extras when buying apple juice. Many apple juices contain added sugar which is definitely not a healthy option. A lot of mass-produced apple juices are made with apples that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides so you could be unwittingly consuming these as well. Look for organic, cloudy, apple juice made from only apples and water.
Raw Vs Pasteurized
Pasteurizing means heating the apple juice to a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria that cause food poisoning. Drinking unpasteurized juice has led to serious outbreaks of foodborne illness so is not recommended.
When it comes to apple juice cleanses the top phrase that accompanies this is a colon cleanse. I’ve done a bit of digging to find out what this is and why people are interested.
The theory goes that over time, your colon can get clogged up with old faeces which can lead to health issues. A fairly well known medical cure for this is colonic irrigation. This is where sterile fluid is used to flush out the colon by inserting a tube up your anus. The colon is flushed out and all that old poo is well and truly removed.
What has this got to do with apple juice?
Apple juice can supposedly be used as an at-home method to cleanse your colon. The un-diluted, sugary solution draws water into your bowel which hydrates any faeces there and causes diarrhoea. This flushes everything out. The idea is that you drink apple juice frequently until the diarrhoea turns clear in colour – so just apple juice is coming out your rear end.
Why would I want to do this?
In cases of constipation or if you haven’t had a bowel movement in a while, this may be a good method to get things moving again. Diarrhoea certainly flushes away any bad bacteria from your bowel, as is the case in food poisoning.
The caution here is that diarrhoea can quickly turn quite dangerous. It can lead to severe dehydration which can cause weakness, dizziness, fainting and even circulation problems. It’s also worth considering that you may not be just flushing out the bad bacteria but good bacteria as well. You need a balance of good bacteria in your colon to protect you from infection so if the diarrhoea flushes these away you may find yourself developing some other infection.
A colon cleanse should only be considered following advice from your doctor or health care professional.
Apple Juice Cleanse
An apple juice fast or cleanse is where you drink only apple juice for 1-3 days and avoid eating. I would recommend diluting the apple juice with plenty of water to avoid dehydration, diarrhoea and major blood sugar spikes.
For 1-3 days prior to the cleanse make sure you gradually cut back on those processed foods that are especially harsh on the body. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, soda, junk food, ready meals and anything highly processed and containing lots of sugar. Ideally you want to be eating lots of fresh fruit, veggies and plain foods on the run up to the cleanse.
An example meal plan would be plain oatmeal for breakfast, avocado and pine nut salad for lunch and homecooked rice, boiled veggies and white fish or lentils for dinner. Snacks can include fruit, nuts and herbal teas.
Drink plenty of water on the lead up to the fast to make sure you’re well hydrated.
How To Take Apple Juice
Ideally choose organic, cloudy apple juice or use fresh apples and press them at home. Dilute the juice to 50% apple juice and 50% water. It’s usually recommended that you have a juice at 2 hour intervals but you can also drink the apple juice in place of regular meals or whenever you start to feel hungry. You should drink plain water alongside the fruit juice as well.
Can I include anything else?
If you’re feeling far too hungry or your stomach is hurting then it’s ok to include some fresh fruit or veg during an apple juice cleanse. Other pressed juices or vitamin shots are a great addition to the apple juice, especially green juices.
After your 1-3 days of not eating your stomach will have shrunk slightly in size and jumping right back into eating regular meals isn’t a great idea. Start slow and gradual. A small salad or bowl of soup is great to start with and slowly build up from there. Fresh, homecooked food is best and eat small, frequent meals rather than a huge feast. Make sure you stick to really basic food for a week or so after the fast to really appreciate the benefits from it.
You’ll likely find that after this you’ll be craving that sugar and junk food less and less. This helps get you into good healthy habits that last long term and this is ultimately the key to living a healthy life and sustainable weight loss program.
Juice cleanses can aid weight loss and help you form a healthy diet and lifestyle. There’s a lot to be considered before partaking in a juice cleanse and it’s important to weigh up risks to benefit.
Apple juice is a good DIY option for a juice cleanse and when diluted it helps keep you hydrated.