Are juice fasts good for your health?

The practice of juice fasting could boost your health in many ways. Experts believe that this form of fasting improves the population and health of beneficial gut microbiota while also suppressing bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

Billions of microorganisms live in the gastrointestinal tract. When these bacteria are in bad shape, their hosts tend to develop metabolic disorders and obesity. Conversely, when a person loses weight, he or she also reduces the number of bacterial species that cause harmful inflammation in the body.

Studies showed that diets mostly comprised of fruit and vegetable juices increased the population and diversity of various species of beneficial bacteria. These good microbes break down dense proteins, stop the spread of disease-causing counterparts, and reduce harmful inflammation in the gut.

Juice-based diets also decreased the numbers of bad bacteria that cause inflammation. By doing so, they prevented the development of inflammatory diseases in the gastrointestinal system, which could harm the population of good bacteria.

Bacterial colonies in the large intestine could break down phenolic compounds in fruits and vegetables. By making healthy polyphenols available to the body, the gut microbiota could contribute to the overall health of their host. (Related: Here’s what the research says about intermittent fasting.)

Juice fasts improved gut microbiota, leading to better health

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted an experiment in 2017 to test the theory that altering the microbial composition could affect health. Participants followed a juice fast diet for three weeks and then returned to their customary diet for another two weeks.

Before the trial, the participants did not eat many fruits and vegetables. For the first three weeks of the trial, they subsisted on a root juice mix, a citrus juice mix, a green juice mix made from vegetables, and a final mix of almonds, cayenne peppers, dates, filtered water, lemon, sea salt, and vanilla beans.

The results of the experiment showed that juicing decreased the populations of Firmicutes bacterial species in the gut. At the same time, they also improved the levels of Bacteroidetes and Cyanobacteria species.

Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were the two phyla to which almost all of the gut bacteria belonged. The ratio between them affected the body mass index and obesity. A microbiome with more Firmicutes bacteria compared to Bacteroidetes was less healthy than its opposite number with a reversed ratio of Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes.

Juicing can stop harmful inflammation and help lose unhealthy weight

Furthermore, the UCLA experiment showed that juice fasts could reduce inflammation. During the fourth day of the treatment, the amount of lipid peroxidation in the participants was shown to have dropped by 40 percent.

This effect was attributed to two reasons. First, juices contained low levels of lipids that could be targeted by oxidative degradation. The second and more likely reason was that polyphenols in the juices possessed antioxidant properties that protected against inflammation.

Furthermore, juicing increased the amounts of nitric oxide in the body. Ensuring stable levels of this important chemical could help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Participants also lost considerable amounts of body weight during the fasting period. This translated to much better values of body mass index.

Finally, participants reported that they experienced much greater levels of well-being at the end of the juicing trial. However, the benefits only lasted for as long as the participants were following the juice fasting diet.

The researchers concluded that juice fasts exerted a healthy prebiotic effect that supported good gut microbiota while simultaneously inhibiting the population of bad bacteria. They recommended the use of vegetables with low carbohydrate contents for juicing to support the health of people who suffered from gastrointestinal or metabolic disorders.

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