Should You Keep the Fiber When You Cleanse?

by Courtney on July 11, 2012

So, you want to do a cleanse, but you’ve been wondering: what about all the fiber in those veggies and fruits? Should you use juices or smoothies? Both? Why do some “cleanses” involve juice only and some have smoothies with fiber?

These are important questions, and ones my clients ask me frequently. Here’s the deal:

Fiber is indeed a necessary nutrient, and when you’re eating and not cleansing (which is most of your life), fiber helps your digestive system move things through thoroughly and is super important for colon health. It’s imperative to incorporate plenty of fiber when off of a cleanse. This is accomplished easily and deliciously through a healthy plant-strong diet that hopefully includes fiber from smoothies as well as other fruits and veggies you’re eating.

So why isn’t fiber a part of juice cleansing?

The body expends energy separating the juice in a smoothie from the fiber. The body only has a certain amount of energy — it’s not unlimited. And when a large amount of that energy is going towards the separation and digestion of a smoothie, the body cannot allocate that energy to cleansing, renewing, and detoxifying. The reason that “fasting” works is because you’re giving your body a complete rest from digesting food for a period of time.

There is no issue with clearing old matter from the colon with Juice Feasting–fiber is not required to facilitate this process. Let’s get graphic for a minute: during each Juice Feast that I’ve done, and every one I have ever coached, even though there is only juice being taken in, old, undigested waste matter still comes out simply due to the sweeping effects of juice, and certainly with watery help through colonics or enemas. The colon is the first place that has to be cleared — once the toxicity from it is released, the cells from the rest of the body start to dump out toxicity to be eliminated. And, if the body doesn’t have to digest fiber, the cells have the energy to do that dumping.

Quite simply, the state of cleansing that the body goes into by drinking juices only is far deeper than where the body can get to with smoothies. Deep, long-held cellular toxicity won’t be released nearly as quickly when the body is spending energy digesting fiber. This is actually also true for the nut milks that you see as part of some retail cleanses, though this post isn’t specifically about the nut milk thing. It’s also why it’s advised not to eat even simple things like fruit during a juice cleanse if you want the fastest results. You won’t get the same level of detoxification, alkalization, and renewal. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., describes this process which the body can only enter into when on juice only:

“Fasting is an excellent method for cleansing your entire system. The fasting process begins after day two or three when the body goes into autolysis, the process whereby the body is digesting its own dead and dying cells. In the body’s wisdom, it selectively decomposes those cells and tissues that are in excess, diseased, damaged, aged, or dead. This allows for an improved ratio of healthy cells in the body. This is a time of increased off-loading of toxins.”

Additionally, you cannot take in nearly the amount of nutrition via smoothies. One gets far more full on smoothies than one does on juices. When people Juice Feast, they typically take in 12-20 pounds of produce in the form of juices every day. Wow! With smoothies, one gets fuller sooner and can’t take in that amount of produce, and therefore receives overall far less phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. on a daily basis. Additionally, the nutrition from juices can be immediately assimilated into the body because there is no fiber.

In sum: Juice Feasting allows you to pump your body full of nutrition while still allowing your body to take a break from digesting and therefore allocate all its energy towards bodily housecleaning. Deep, hyper-house cleaning.

If you are don’t desire the level of deep, cellular level of detoxification that comes from juice cleansing, then most definitely–drink lots of green smoothies. For many people coming off a very poor diet, drinking smoothies still has a certain level of a cleansing effect and that’s why many programs with fiber/pulp are still named “cleanses.” They are! Just not as deep of a cleanse as one experiences when on just juice. Another important point in this discussion is that because fiber will slow down detox, for some people that is a good thing. If one is coming off an incredibly toxic lifestyle, there are situations where juice-only creates such a fast and deep detox that it can feel a bit uncomfortable for some. This is only a very small minority of people that fit into this category that I’ve seen since 2006 since I’ve been studying cleansing, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless. And of course, if you’re not trying to do a cleanse, drink green smoothies all day! I have one almost every day when I’m not on a cleanse.

So if you’re looking for a deep, cellular cleanse, go and get juicy!


Photo Credit 1. Photo Credit 2.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy July 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

what a great post! so interesting!


Sarah July 12, 2012 at 2:28 am

I really love this post. It’s a really common question I have heard many times, and honestly, this is the best, most helpful explanation I have heard about why nixing fiber is beneficial on cleanses. I really love juice and this inspires me to drink more, both when I am fasting and just drinking it normally. I’m getting a big dose of juice tomorrow, inspired by this wonderful post!!! thank you!!! :):)


Alissa July 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

Thanks, that was a very informational post. Definitely something I needed to hear!


Patrick Timpone July 16, 2012 at 4:34 am

I’ve never done Juice Feasting for any significant length of time. I would like to do a long fast. What’s the longest you’ve gone on a juice fast?


Courtney July 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

That’s wonderful! It’s an amazing experience. The longest I’ve gone is 60 days.


Jonathan Freeman November 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thank you, Courtney. What you have written makes a lot of sense. One thing: I am unfamiliar with the concept of cellular detoxification. What does that mean?


Michael Trem February 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

Perfect! This article really helps me to know the difference. I’ve been a green smoothie fanatic for a while now. I find they keep me grounded and satisfied on an emotional level. I used to juice all the time. This summer though, liquids, liquids, liquids…


Courtney February 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Glad it was helpful, Michael! I love both smoothies and juices, too. I just reserve smoothies for normal food days and keep to juices for cleansing!


Michelle April 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

Thank you for that!
I really needed that clarity and I know I will do a juice fast now.
Awesome post.


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