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Juice fasting is a type of fasting and detox diet in which the practitioner consumes only fruit and vegetable juices. Being available only in digestible carbohydrates, these foods are digested rapidly as the juice digestion process expends only a small amount of energy. People choose to undergo juice fasts for various reasons and via various methods. Juice fasts are often marketed together with supplies, supplements and support groups.
 Reasons for fasting
Additional reasons for undergoing juice fasts include religious reasons, losing weight and attempting to wean oneself from unhealthy habits, i.e., smoking, drinking soda, overeating, caffeine addiction, etc. Some more serious participants use juice fasting as an alternative to conventional medical practices, i.e., as a healing technique for pain, cancer, depression, arthritis, severe infections that failed antibiotics, autoimmune diseases and many other supposedly incurable diseases.
Some practitioners take part in semi-annual week-long (or longer) periods of fasting in order to cyclically purify the body along with the nature's annual cycles. These semi-annual fasters and others may also take monthly, shorter (two or three days) periods of fasting. Some fasts involve a week-long trip to a spa resort, with Thailand being one especially popular destination.
Because pure juice contains little to no fiber, juice fasters often use an enema or a herbal or saltwater laxative during the time of fasting to efficiently expel waste from the intestines and colon. Another method is mixing psyllium husks in with the juice. Because psyllium is not absorbed by the body but increases in volume greatly upon absorbing water, it creates the bulk necessary to keep the bowels moving.
 Types of juices
Some fruits commonly used in juice fasts:
- Vegetables - celery, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper
- Greens - parsley, kale, beet greens, chard, spinach, dandelion leaf
- Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cabbage
- Root vegetables - carrots, beets, sweet potatoes
- Fruits - dark grapes, apples, citrus, Açai berry
- Herbs - yucca root, fennel, spearmint, peppermint, basil, ginger, garlic, green onion, chile pepper, fresh turmeric root, milk thistle
- Wheatgrass juice, spirulina (a blue-green sea algae)
 Possible side effects
Fasters must take care to maintain their intake of vitamins and nutrients. However, there are no specific side effects associated exclusively with juice fasting, though certain medical conditions such as diabetes may be aggravated by excessive intake of certain juices. It's also possible for a juice such as grapefruit to interact badly with certain prescription drugs. Additionally, the juices from highly acidic fruits such as tomato and citrus juices can conceivably upset the body's natural acid-base (pH) balance.
Some individuals should be careful before performing excessive juice fasting or even attempting juice fasting without the consultation from medical practitioners. These include the malnourished and underweight; pregnant or lactating mothers; advanced cancer patients; individuals with poor immunity; individuals who have recently undergone surgery; individuals who suffer from stomach ulcers, low blood pressure, excessive fatigue, and children.
 Criticisms of fasting
Some scientists, dietitians, and doctors regard juice fasting and other detox diets as less effective than drinking a glass of water, and hence generally harmless but a waste of money. Dr Catherine Collins, Chief Dietician of St George’s Hospital Medical School in London, England, states that "The concept of ‘detox’ is a marketing myth rather than a physiological entity. The idea that an avalanche of vitamins, minerals, and laxatives taken over a 2 to 7 day period can have a long-lasting benefit for the body is also a marketing myth."
Proponents of fasting believe that, while fasting, less energy is expended on digestion of foods, leaving more energy available for the rest of the body to expel toxins. As toxins are believed to lie within many of the human body's eliminative glands and organs, different juice fasts target different sections of the body. For instance, a large portion of juice fasters believe that abstaining from solid food allows the body to recover and heal itself from damage and fatigue caused by the relentless stress of digestion. But while on a water-only fast, "the body burns up stored sugars, or glycogen, so less insulin is needed to help the body digest food. That gives the pancreas a rest. On juice diets recommended by some spas, you may lose weight, but your digestive system doesn't get that rest." Others choose fasting because they want to target the liver, the kidneys, the urinary tract, the skin, the gallbladder, the brain, the immune system, etc. There is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence behind these claims.
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