Can detox juicing cause hepatitis?


Juice cleanse, juice fast, juice feast, health booster– these are some of the many euphemisms used to explain detoxifying juices, which has  become the new ‘trendy’ weight-loss technique on the block.

Hoards of online forums, Facebook pages, local businesses and international corporations have started providing what they call ‘fitness in a bottle’ – where detox energy drinks made from supposedly natural ingredients are sold to individuals who are fitness-conscious and wish to find a quick fix for weight-loss.

However, the picture isn’t as rosy as these manufacturers would like to paint it.

There have been complaints of adverse side effects from people who consumed these detox juices . The juices contain high levels of natural sugar which can cause a spike in the blood sugar affecting diabetics. The high levels of potassium and minerals from excessive juice consumption can build up in the blood to hazardous levels in those with kidney disease. And lastly, if non-organic fruits and vegetables are used and not cleaned properly or with impure water, the bacteria could potentially lead to hepatitis and the pesticides can induct harmful chemicals into our system.

Such side effects were not communicated to users through literature on the packaging or through individual coaching prior to their usage. Many users have complained about a blood sugar spike or off experiencing hepatitis because the juices were made by substandard fruit in an unhygienic environment and given to users without and coaching or instructions.

I don’t think I will ever have one of these drinks. I’d rather make my own detox and I wouldn’t trust the freshness and hygiene otherwise – Mushal, a fitness enthusiast.

According to her, detox juices are not the route to a healthy body.

And she is not alone in her views.

According to Fatir, who is also a fitness aficionado, all these products are a sham.

There is no truth to the claims these companies make about the results of these drinks. It’s all a sham. In fact, these products can, in turn, damage your liver and cause severe issues. I suggest people not play with their livers and instead opt for juices made from fruits and vegetables at home in limited in quantities and not the 2-3 day juice binges prescribed.

Similarly, Moeen, who is an aspiring MMA fighter, believes that these fitness drinks are a weight-loss gimmick, like zero calorie water, and therefore people should refrain from consuming these.

Even with these negative comments, one begs to question why people are flocking to these juices if they are harmful. The reason is simple.Everyone always wants a quick fix for weight loss.

Zara, a nutritionist, states that detox juices are low in protein and necessary calories, and they often lead to stomach aches and moodiness because the bowl functions begin to change after their regular consumption. Further, she mentions that there is no scientific evidence that these juice cleanses are a sensible option to lose weight, therefore consuming it might do more harm than good. In fact, why not simply eat the fruit that the juice comes from? In addition to the juice you also get the fiber present in the fruit which slows down and aides digestion and better manages the nutrient uptake process in your system.

As mentioned earlier, pushing the human liver to its limits can cause hepatitis – a condition where the liver is inflamed by external stimuli, causing disruption in its function. There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Other than these viruses, many other external stimuli – excessive alcohol, certain medications, herbs and multiple others – can cause hepatitis but many a time the cause cannot be determined. Juicing depends on a heavy dosage of fruits and vegetables which in Pakistan have often been sprayed with all sorts of pesticides and may not even have been cleaned with clean water therefore potentially leading tohepatitis.

According to a doctor who works at a reputable hospital in Karachi,

We don’t know if it is the concentrated nutrients of the juice which might cause disruption if improperly consumed without instructions or if it is because of something these companies are adding to the product. Also, how can someone who is 110 pounds and someone who is 200 pounds use the same amount of juice? This is where the negligence of these businesses comes to the spotlight.

Most of the businesses that sell detox juices and have essentially started this trend of ‘juicing’ oneself to a slim figure are not properly trained to help their customers. These juices do not come with any instructions whichcould explain how much juice is needed for different weight, body types and levels of activity for optimal fitness. Furthermore, when people approach these businesses to pose their queries to them, they are met with a lack of experience or a general sense of ineptitude.

One such business venture is the Studio X fitness center that has been selling detox juices to its consumers without guiding them about the usage of their products. One such consumer, Sara*, has had a terrible experience which she shared with the HTV team. Keeping aside the extensive payment ordeal she had to go through to sign up – where Studio X’s management kept going back and forth with her and was poorly organized – Sara was adversely affected after drinking their juices.

She felt nauseous and started throwing up on the first day even though the juice was labeled as an energy-boosting juice. She felt like all her body energy had drained out and by her second daybroke into cold sweat. Since she had a medical background, Sara got her blood tested for liver function tests (LFT). The reports showed all her liver enzymes were out of range and she was extremely dehydrated. None of these side-effectswere mentioned to her before she bought the detox juices from Studio X and she was provided with no instruction manuals or guidelines and wasn’t even given the number of a credible individual to call in case of any such emergency or issue.

Since Sara had a medical background and was aware of how such products are dealt with and what instructions she needed to follow, she was able to stop the juicing and start working on managing her liver enzymes back to normalcy. However, had the same incident happened with someone who is not as health-savvy as her, what would the reaction have been?

Also, had something critical happened to Sara, would the liability fall in the hands of the product provider, in this case the Studio X? Is it not their duty to keep checking in with their consumers, so that the regime is undertaken effectively?

The management at Studio X and other such businesses need to understand that when toying with individual health, a certain level of personal focus andresponsibility should be provided to the individuals buying their products. They need to be readily available to the public so people can pose their questions effectively to them and they should ensure a positive experience for each customer paying a premium for a product/service like this.

Toying with a person’s health canbecome ugly. It is time that we, as consumers, understand that our fitness is in our hands and we need to make wiser choices in order to stay healthy. Because as far as these businesses go, their primary motivation comes through making money and not making you healthy

*Names have been changed to protect identities