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The juice cleanseFans of this method of detox say it re-energises the body and aids in weight loss, but it is not getting endorsements from dietitians due to the lack of scientific evidence to back up its claims
They are pricey, not that easy to stomach at times, and the claims of benefits are unproven.
The trend is definitely on the upswing, with a bunch of businesses, such as Joob, Rejuicenate, Lucky You Cleanse, Fresh Pressed, Beauty Cleanse and hic'Juice, bursting on the scene in the past year.
Others, such as Mission Juice and Sana Cleanse, have been around just a tad longer.
These sell freshly made ready-to-drink cold-pressed juices which they claim to be superior to the juice you buy from the fruit juice stall at the kopitiam.
Proponents claim cold-pressed fruit juice is better as the process retains more nutrients than regular juicing. Here, the juice is separated from the fruit pulp with an external pressure, said Mr Tan Soon Ann, a senior lecturer for the diploma in food science and technology at Singapore Polytechnic.
"For example, you can hydraulically press the juice out through a filter cloth or use a slow rotating screw in a barrel to squeeze the juice out (through tiny orifices) from its pulp."
But typically, a slow juicer, also called a masticating or cold-pressed juicer, is used to make cold-pressed juice, by crushing and pressing the fruit and vegetables. Little or no heat is produced in this method.
It is different from your typical domestic fruit juicer, which is a centrifugal juicer that separates juice from the pulp through the use of sharp blades spinning at high speed against a metal strainer. This creates friction and heat, which can destroy the nutrients and enzymes from fruit and vegetables.
LOST KILOS IN DAYS
Flight stewardess Vanessa Lee, 30, was converted after she lost 4kg from drinking only fruit and vegetable juices and lemon-flavoured water for three days, in what is commonly known as the "three-day cleanse".
And for four days after that, she kept to a fruit bowl for breakfast and raw fruit and vegetables for lunch and dinner.
She usually eats a lot and wanted to do the cleanse to feel lighter and healthier. The weight loss was a bonus, she said.
Ms Lee said she managed the first day of her three-day cleanse pretty well. The second day was "more challenging than I thought", she said.
She had to fight off food cravings as her brother constantly ate in front of her, but she persevered and felt immensely satisfied at completing the cleanse without cheating.
Another new juice cleanse fan, public relations consultant Hsu Lin, 29, lost 2.5kg after a recent three-day cleanse. It helped that she avoided food high in carbohydrates for five days before the cleanse, she said.
"I did the cleanse partly to lose weight, and also because a friend of mine tried it and said she felt really good afterwards. I definitely hope to keep it (the weight) off," she said.
Juice cleansing was made popular by Hollywood celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Owen Wilson. In the United States, bottles of cold-pressed juice are easily available from premium supermarkets, juice bars and even at Starbucks outlets.
While the trend is not new, companies say the market here is ripe for the picking.
Selling their juices online or in a retail store, the entrepreneurs behind these juice cleanse businesses are mostly savvy young professionals who were introduced to the concept overseas and liked it.
Joob's 27-year-old founder Choonboon Tan, for instance, was formerly a programme sales trader at a financial institution in New York.
"Everyone was drinking this (cold-pressed juice). I drank it a lot, mainly as a hangover cure," he said. Gradually, he started to use the juices, conveniently found in supermarkets, as a meal replacement.
Mr Tan started Joob online and opened a store on Pickering Street in February. Demand has grown substantially since then, he said, adding that he started with one juicer and had to add two more in the past two months.
Perhaps the idea of a juice cleanse appeals to busy working people looking for a health fix.
Said Mr Christopher Remaley, 38, an American chef who founded Rejuicenate early this year: "Juice cleanses have been around for decades. But with our increasingly globalised world and external stressors, the trend seems to have picked up in recent years."
He started on juice cleanses while working as a private chef in the US and now does it regularly. "I feel re-energised after every cleanse and I'm much more aware of the food I ingest."
Ms Li Lihui, 32, a former lawyer, started hic'Juice online late last year with two friends after they found out about organic, cold-pressed juices while on a holiday in Los Angeles.
They opened a juice room at a fitness studio in the Central Business District a month ago.
"We are currently in talks with some locations to stock our juices," said Ms Li, who is the managing director of brand and franchise management firm Thirtythree, which operates hic'Juice and other businesses here, including the US ice-cream joint, Marble Slab Creamery.
REPLACING ALL MEALS WITH JUICE
In a juice cleanse, you replace all your meals with juices made from preferably organic fruit and vegetables, for one to five days.
Proponents of juice cleansing believe that in doing so, you allow your body to take a break from digesting solid food so that it can release the toxins in your body more efficiently.
They say that you will feel more energised, and that your skin will glow and your immunity will improve. You will also lose weight.
Not every kind of juice will do, though. We are talking cold-pressed juice, which, according to Mr Remaley, retains three to five times more vitamins and minerals than the juice produced by a conventional juicer.
There is also a pre- and post-cleanse ritual that can last for one to three days or more. It involves eating a light and healthy diet and abstaining from alcohol, coffee, nicotine, processed food, meat and dairy products.
For the cleanse, you drink six 500ml of various juices - green or vegetable blends, fruit blends and nut-milk blends - in a certain order each day.
"Morning juices tend to energise, afternoon juices generally offer a bit of sweetness and the evening ones tend to be more soothing," said Mr David Ratner, 34, a Singapore permanent resident who started Fresh Pressed with his fashion designer wife late last year.
A lot of produce goes into a bottle of juice, which means that you will be consuming a lot of fruit and vegetables - a lot more than you can ever eat on your own in a single day, juice cleanse proponents claim.
The 18 bottles required in a three-day cleanse, each containing 500ml of juice, typically cost around $240 to $300 or more, depending on which retailer you buy from and whether organic ingredients are used.
Some juice cleanse companies also sell individual bottles of cold-pressed juice for those who just want a healthier alternative to, say, a fizzy drink, or a meal replacement. But be prepared to pay.
For instance, at Fresh Pressed's shop in Cluny Court, a 250ml dine-in glass of juice costs $6.50 while a 500ml bottle cost $12.
At the Joob store, a 300ml bottle of organic juice will set you back by $9.80 while a 500ml bottle costs $16.30.
DIETITIANS GIVE THEIR TAKE
While the idea of a juice cleanse to detox and lose weight is an attractive one, there is no scientific evidence to support this.
"To date, no one can pinpoint exactly what toxins we are detoxifying with a juice cleanse," said Ms Gladys Wong, the chief dietitian at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's nutrition and dietetics department.
When one claims to be on a (juice) detox, he is presumably just going on a juice diet, she said. The six-bottle-a-day programme is simply a fat-free, low protein and low-calorie liquid diet of fruit and vegetables, she pointed out. The weight loss is inevitable.
But a juice-only diet is devoid of valuable dietary fibre, which normalises bowel movement and helps to control blood sugar levels.
Mr Derrick Ong, a dietitian at Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy, is far from impressed by juice cleansing.
"Certainly, any form of temporary caloric restriction can result in weight loss. But the amount of sugar (if fruit are primarily used) consumed may not be safe for diabetics."
Mr Ong added that a juice cleanse should not be done over a long period of time.
"There is a lack of protein in such a diet, which inevitably leads to muscle loss and decreased immunity if the juice cleanse is continued for prolonged periods," he said.
Ms Wong, who is also a past president of the Singapore Nutrition & Dietetics Association, said it does not harm a normal person's health to deprive the body of solid foods for a few days. But a juice diet may not even meet a person's usual energy requirement.
"They may feel more hungry and may need to meditate to divert their attention from delusions of yummy food," said Ms Wong.
"So, as health-care professionals, we would not condemn short-term juice diets, but we would not recommend or endorse them."