Juice cleanses, detoxes, and fasting are just some of the health trends promoted by celebrities.
Santino Rice may have just taken things to the next level.
The former “Project Runway” contestant announced on Twitter that he intends to embark on a 111-day juice fast.
“My fast involves drinking as much organic cold-pressed juice and water as I need,” Rice tweeted.
“An extended juice fast will reverse heart disease, diabetes, and various autoimmune diseases,” he wrote.
But nutrition experts say Rice’s planned diet could be potentially dangerous.
“Detoxification diets are very popular especially with celebrities like Rice, and even Beyoncé. Detox diets claim to help the body to release toxins and excess weight,” Lauri Wright, PhD, assistant professor in the department of community and family health at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health, told Healthline.
So do detox diets work and are they safe?
“Bottom line: These diets have no scientific foundation and can be harmful,” she said.
“Fruit and vegetable juices can contribute to a healthful diet overall. However, juice alone does not provide all the essential nutrients needed for health. Juice contains no protein and is also lacking important vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium. Because of this, juice cleanses are not healthy,” Wright added.
Fasting isn’t necessary
Despite the popularity of detoxification diets, they aren’t really necessary.
The body naturally cleanses toxins through the liver and kidneys.
Fasting doesn’t achieve this and, in fact, can cause more harm than good, experts say.
Rice claims “three days of just water will allow your body to heal.”
But Dana Hunnes, PhD, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, argues Rice “does not really know what he speaks of.”
“Three days of just water can lead to protein catabolism (muscle loss), potentially ketosis for some individuals, which is when we start using fat and muscle for energy in the brain, and could also lead to some potential electrolyte imbalances,” Hunnes told Healthline. “The only circumstance where this could be an OK idea, is if you are about to undergo a gastrointestinal surgery, and you have been expressly guided by your physician to take in nothing but certain liquids for three days.”
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “there isn’t any convincing evidence that detox or cleansing programs actually remove toxins from your body or improve your health.”
In addition, any weight loss achieved on a detox diet may just be due to having a low-calorie diet.
The negative health consequences
Despite popular belief that detox diets can “reset” the body, Wright argued that cleanses or detox diets can actually have negative health consequences.
“Detox diets that severely limit protein or that require fasting can result in fatigue. Long-term fasting can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Colon cleansing, which is often recommended as part of a detox plan, can cause cramping, bloating, nausea, and vomiting,” she said. “Dehydration also can be a concern. For diabetics, fasting while taking diabetic medication can cause their blood sugar to drop dangerously low.”
“These types of diets [cleanses and detoxes] aren't a good long-term solution. For lasting results, your best bet is to eat a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein,” she added.
So why do so many people, like Santino Rice, say they feel an improvement after a detox diet?
According to the Mayo Clinic, it may in part be due to eliminating highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugars.
If you do want to embark on a detox diet, Hunnes said the healthiest way to do so is to eliminate all processed foods, eliminate all salt and added sugars, and eat whole plant-based foods.
Tune out celebrities
As for taking health advice from Santino Rice and other celebrities, both Hunnes and Wright advised against it.
“I think it is very dangerous for a public figure to be so blasé about such a potentially dangerous topic,” Hunnes said.
“It is an abuse of status when celebrities promote diets and foods that are not evidence-based and can do harm,” Wright added.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Quick fixes and villain foods don’t work,” Wright added. “Health comes from lifestyle choices — whole foods, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins combined with physical activity. For an evidenced-based, individualized plan for a healthy lifestyle, consult a registered dietitian.”