View All Articles

Are juice cleanses harmful to kids?

May 16, 2014

Juice cleanses are widely popular among adults, especially women, as they are strategically marketed as a powerful way to detoxify the body and “reboot” metabolism, as well as provide a “jump start” in weight loss. As these juice products are showing up in more and more family-shared refrigerators, kids are starting to take notice and want to join in on the juice craze, too. Several recent news articles even highlight stories of young juice devotees, ranging in ages from 6 years old to 18 years old. One story even includes a mother-daughter duo that share a love for organic cleanses, who recently when on a five-day cleansing program because dad was out of town (because of course, I don’t think dad would approve!).

So what do health experts have to say about this new trend? They are shocked, even commenting that the trend is “outrageous and a real concern.” And here’s why.

What is a juice cleanse?

Most juice cleanses range from a five to 14-day program that involves consuming nothing but liquid juices. The juices come in flavors such as lemon cayenne agave and cashew vanilla cinnamon that are supposedly packed with vitamin and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to help promote weight loss and a thorough “cleaning out” of your digestive system. And here’s the kicker – people who participate in these cleanses are advised NOT to do any intense exercise during that time, as the cleanse can leave you feeling weak and exhausted.

Health experts argue that our body naturally rids itself of waste and toxins and does not need an expensive product to help boost this process – that’s what the liver is for! They also warn that those who see rapid weight loss as a result of a cleanse are most likely losing a combination of water weight and muscle mass, which is not healthy for anyone, especially children.

Why are cleanses particularly harmful to kids?

Lack of nutrients. Through their developmental years, children need adequate nutrition to help supply the increasing demands of energy for their growing bodies. Juice cleanses simply cannot offer the type and amount of nutrients and calories needed to maintain a healthy diet. For example, a cleanse provides very little protein, which can inhibit the growth and development of cells in a child’s body, as well as good fats, which are essential to brain development and health.

Lack of concentration and physical activity. If a child is participating in a juice cleanse, he or she likely feels weak and has a lack of energy. This can affect a child’s success in the classroom, as well as deprive them of much-needed physical activity to help keep their bodies healthy and strong.

Unhealthy relationship with foods. Starting at an early age, kids should be learning about the right types of foods to eat and healthy eating habits, not how to detox their body with juicing products. Allowing kids to participate in a juice cleanse promotes dieting and weight loss, which can lead to a negative perception of body image and potential struggles with eating disorders in the future.

Some trends are taken way too far and begin to work in opposition to its promoted “benefits.” The promotion of juice cleanses among kids is a prime example of this. As parents, you can help encourage healthy eating habits in your kids by setting a good example. You have to “walk the talk” so to speak. Focus on consuming whole foods (a whole apple, whole grapes, whole carrots – you get the point) as a family to ensure that your kids are getting the nutrients they (and you) need for healthy, strong, and energized bodies and minds!