London - Up close, actress Julianne Moore actually glows. Her skin is luminous. When I interviewed her earlier this year, a few days after she took home a Golden Globe for her role as Sarah Palin in the HBO movie Game Change, I felt haggard next to her - despite the fact she’s 15 years older than me. I wanted to know “her secret”.
She chuckled and shyly confided that she’d done a three-day juice-only “cleanse” to shift some excess pounds and get ready for the red carpet.
THE RISE OF JUICING
If she was embarrassed about resorting to such measures, I’m not surprised. She struck me as very down-to-earth, and was probably only too aware how she sounded.
After all, these diet fads are all very well if you are a genetically blessed Hollywood star with all the time in the world to starve while drinking only green gunk.
But for the rest of us? Well, in the real world, it seems the trend is taking hold too. In Britain, a host of companies have launched in the past few years - Plenish, Raw & Juicy and Radiance Cleanse - which offer bespoke detox packages delivered fresh to your door. This is despite the three- to five-day menu of ready-made juices setting you back a couple of hundred quid upwards.
Most experts will tell you that, at best, these detoxes are a load of cobblers, and at worst potentially dangerous.
But most of my friends in New York have admitted to trying some kind of juice-based regime at one point - mainly as a detox. Designed to “flush” the system of toxins, while “flooding” your body with nutrients, the idea is that you feel energised and look amazing.
So after a holiday in Mexico, where the cocktails flowed freely and I was pretty much having chips and guacamole for breakfast, I decided to put juicing to the test.
IS IT PSEUDO-SCIENCE?
My local juice bar, Liquiteria, was advertising a free session with a “cleansing coach” and would deliver juices to my door daily.
Before signing up, I checked in with nutritional therapist Jackie Lynch, who was pretty negative. She told me: “There are possibly some benefits from an increased dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
“The problem is that it eliminates other important food groups and so any perceived benefits would tend be outweighed by the downside.”
She warned it could confuse my metabolism, leading to longer-term weight gain. And I could certainly expect unpleasant “detox” symptoms: “low energy, poor skin, headaches and digestive disturbances.”
“Anorexia in a bottle,” said one health expert online. “Fabricated pseudo-science,” claimed another. But surely I could last three days?
I FEEL AWFUL...THEN AMAZING!
MY “cleanse coach” Jay put me on Liquiteria’s “level one” programme.
It meant six juices a day, including a few fruity concoctions to break up the monotony of the veg-only, super-trendy green juice.
He assured me it’s so energising it’s “the new coffee”. He advised me to “sweat as much as possible” to aid the detox and to drink at least four litres of water a day.
Cut to mid-afternoon on day one. I have a splitting headache and am so nauseous I can’t face the thought of my next juice despite feeling so hungry I can’t focus on basic tasks.
I text Jay: “Is this normal?” He tells me to drink more water.
But I’ve been drinking glass after glass of sparkling water. “Oh no, plain water!” he exclaims. “There’s nothing to cushion all those bubbles in your stomach.”
By this stage I am on the loo almost constantly. Then a funny thing happens. The headache and nausea pass, and I go to bed feeling calm and relaxed. When I wake up the next morning - after the best sleep I’ve had in ages-Ifeel... AMAZING!
Day two flies past. I’m on such a high, I even go to a Bikram yoga class to sweat it out.
QUIT THE FOOD HABIT
Day three is a different story. I have a big deadline, and it takes me for ever to write what would normally be done in a couple of hours. It is impossible to concentrate.
But I’m not hungry and feel like I could easily go on longer. It’s like I’ve got out of the “habit” of eating.
At the end of the cleanse, my stomach is definitely the flattest it’s been in ages, but otherwise there are no discernable physical changes. But I have realised how often I eat because I think I “should” - or out of boredom. The cleanse has shown me I could eat a lot less, but could this damage my health in the long run?
Perhaps, says Jackie Lynch: “Going from 0 to 60 in such a short time can put strain on the liver. Any sort of drastic regime tends to upset the metabolism and doesn’t really lead to any long-term benefits.”
Even Gwyneth Paltrow’s doctor, Frank Lipman, agrees: “I believe a good detox should also include fibre to sweep the intestines clean naturally and bind to the toxins for excretion.”
There wasn’t much going on in that department during my cleanse.
I can’t deny I did feel fantastic - but this could be because my body had entered a state of ketosis, burning my stored fat for fuel. After a day of total starvation, this was bound to give me a boost, and apparently people on the Atkins diet experience the same thing.
Would I do it again? That flat stomach was pretty impressive, and I had a huge sense of achievement.
But the chances of me having a red carpet to walk up are pretty slim. I think this is one fad I’ll leave to the celebs. - Daily Mail