Today as a detour from our usual topic of nootropics, I wanted to touch upon a hotly-debated topic: juicing and whether it’s all that it’s cracked up to be. Due to time constraints, this post lacks the scientific citations I want it to have, but I will expound upon this topic more later.
For some background: Mike Cernovich, the man behind Danger & Play and Fit Juice, is a big proponent of juicing. One critic of Mike’s juice cleanse endorsements, The Man The Myth, has actually taken a few shots at the notions of juice cleanses and detoxing and he does have some sound reasoning in spite of any beef that may exist between him and Mike.
As for my biases? I will disclose that own and use a juicer and was first introduced to juicing through Fit Juice back when it was titled “Juicing For Men.” I do believe that juicing may be a great way to get extra nutrition in your diet, but I hold no delusions that juicing will make me “superpowered” or cleanse me any more than my body will naturally cleanse and detox itself.
Juicing Detox: Real or just real BS?
The problem here began with the use of the term “detoxing” and this is what TMTM is getting at when he opined about juicing fasts or cleanses.
“Detoxing” or “cleansing” doesn’t describe what is really going on when one begins juicing, but to some people it sounds like a cool buzzword, like “nootropic” or “ASMR.” My opinion is that if it’s a phrase that is not ordinary layman English, the novelty factor gives a trend some extra momentum. Not juicing itself, but the idea of “detoxes” and “cleanses.”
- Certain topics themselves become trendy, a bandwagon forms, then it dies off. This pattern is probably as old as time itself.
- When scientific terms become appropriated by the population-at-large, they can take on new definitions or become meaningless altogether. 1
When writing online, you need to use relevant keywords to give yourself an audience, and to make your writing visible, you have to use words that make everyone’s brains light up. Using a phrase like “juice with liver nutrients” is not as good as “juicing DETOX cleanse for liver.”
Demystifying the term “detox”
There may be two kinds of “detoxing” taking place when one adopts juicing as a supplementary habit:
- The “detoxing” of crappy food from your diet (and/or the supplementation of all the nutrients that come with those green vegetables)
- The surplus nutrients from your juice facilitate metabolism of unwanted byproducts (plausible in my opinion)
I do not think that Mike is wholly incorrect when discussing his liver cleanse juice on his site. Yes he mentions “healing crisis” but his facts about liver metabolism are sound. Who is to say whether correcting a deficiency wouldn’t help your body? The vegetables in his recipes are not vegetables that I have seen other people consume very often, and as for myself I only really have tons of leafy greens from juice.
As for an actual juice fast? I have had juices on an empty stomach and it doesn’t typically sit well with me, usually ones with beets or kale. For that reason I always drink juice with my meals. Of course your experience may vary, and adding fresh ginger root to your juice may help settle your stomach.
Are the benefits of juicing just placebo?
Some of the purported benefits that are attributed to juicing may be placebo. This doesn’t necessarily mean that juicing does not work, but it’s within the realm of plausibility that nobody has fully delved into the implications of the associations between juicing and any of its supposed end results.
A brief explanation of placebo
The placebo (and its lesser-known cousin nocebo 2 ) is, in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood concepts in science and outside of it.
On one hand, people erroneously take “placebo” to mean “it doesn’t work” when in reality it may just mean “it doesn’t work the way we expected it to based on our experiment.” On the other hand, people can shill snake oil whose associated benefits may actually be placebo and not whatever the shill claims it to be.
In short, outside of a scientific setting, the term “placebo” may be used to dismiss things that are not well-understood, for better or for worse. It’s extremely helpful to know how to read between the lines here and to understand potential personal biases.
My personal opinion is that hyperbole may be the leading cause of people calling all kinds of things placebo, whether deliberate or not. Think about how many hyperbolic phrases people casually use on a regular basis.
Some example hyperbole I just made up:
- “When I started juicing I became the healthiest I have been in my whole life!”
- “NoFap helped me get with a hot babe, become super-confident and extra productive!”
- “Removing gluten from my diet gave me the bod and brains of Rocky-era Dolph Lundgren!”
- Or even here: “Nootropics helped me remember the total number of babies I have ever punched in my life!”
Hyperbole is a facet of language. Some people know when it’s exaggerated, others get excited by it no matter what: It’s human nature.
Now, after being taken in by all of that glowing hyperbole, Jimmy Q. Person buys a juicer and starts juicing, buys a $5 year-long supply of Noopept and starts taking that, stops eating pizza and pasta, and cancels his Brazzers account (purely hypothetical — no one pays for smut these days).
Jimmy does experience some of the purported benefits, but he feels let down by how he wouldn’t describe his experience with such glowing terms as other people, thus due to placebo, possibly dismissing any benefits attributed to those things as placebo.
A quick “placebo” example: The tingling from beta alanine
Beta alanine itself is not a placebo, there are plenty of studies to vindicate its use for muscular endurance. The tingling however has earned beta alanine a place as a preworkout even though its effects appear most over the long term. Some people take this tingling mean their preworkout is working, and if it doesn’t make them tingle, it doesn’t have the same effect in their mind.
Similar to suds in soap, we take it as some kind of indicator that the soap has cleaning power. What are the implications here for juicing and all the other strange and silly things we do?
Placebo and skepticism
Skepticism is never unwelcome and is a good way to cut through the hyperbole to whatever kernel of truth might be present; however, sometimes disingenuous criticism can be leveled at something under the guise of skepticism. Hence why you should do your own research, get to the bottom of things and find your own truth.
It’s your time and your money. Be your own skeptic, don’t just take someone else’s skepticism as gospel.
Personally, I do not believe that “detoxing” is a wholly accurate way to describe juicing, at least not to use the term “detox” in any scientific sense.
However, incorporating freshly-made vegetable juice into your diet (maybe with some fruits for flavor – I like apples) for the added nutrition is a great habit in my opinion and can give your body extra nutrients it requires to do its thing. It’s perfect if your diet sucks, you just drop $5 on some leafy greens and you don’t have to cook anything.
In some regards, juicing offers to you access to phytonutrients that you can’t get in any supplements without selling an arm and a leg or without eating 2 lbs. of salad. Will you feel better after drinking your 5 servings of vegetables? I don’t know, that may be where the placebo is. But I know my skin is starting to look a lot clearer and my eyes whiter. (confirmation bias???)
There may be a lot of buzz surrounding juicing, but in my opinion it’s not a huge crock of crap either. (This is why I don’t mind Mike’s Fit Juice e-book and will have a review of it soon.)
If you can already eat 5 raw collard leaves, a couple cloves of raw garlic, raw ginger, and an apple including its core all in a single sitting however, you don’t need juicing at all.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||For example, how often is the term “quantum” abused by New Age writers and bloggers? A term may be used and abused until its semantic meaning becomes whatever you want it to be.|
|2.||↑||n. a harmless substance that when taken by a patient is associated with harmful effects due to negative expectations or the psychological condition of the patient|