We're not going to get crazy with hyperbole and tell you juicing is totally done and soup cleanses have entirely taken over. We know you’re sitting there reading this with a cold green concoction in your hand… Don’t worry, we still have ours too. But, it is time to rethink the habit and look more closely at a warmer alternative: soup cleanses. They’re being pitted as being a lot kinder to our gut than the raw beverages we’re sculling (and pretending don't cause us some serious… ahem… gas issues). Juicing has its place, and all our bodies are different and react in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways to whatever fad we’ve carefully selected. But… the benefits of a cooked, nutrient-packed soup are hard to ignore. In fact, our skin is begging for it. Here, we chat to a naturopath about the downside of juicing and why a winter warming cleanse might be a better option…
The juice craze is here and isn’t running away at any pace much faster than a raw Brussel sprout giveaway. Grocery and food stores are now carrying fruit and vegetable juices that claim to contain up to one hundred percent of your recommended daily intake (yikes, and no…) and you can’t turn to cough without coming face-to-face with a cold-pressed juice bar. And look, we love them too - they have their place as an added extra treat to a balanced diet. But, all juice all the time for a cleanse? Let’s rethink, says Naturopath David Jivan.
“When you actually chew food, you stimulate the production of enzymes in your mouth and in your stomach,” he explains. “So what happens is, as wonderful as [juices] are, what they tend do is bypass the first stage of digestion.” This leads to food entering the stomach without first informing your body. Along with the initial shock of having your body receive all of these nutrients at once, there is also a rush of sugar in the mix, which is better received in incrementally in small doses.
“Cold-pressing reduces the fibre down the a very fine pulp which means the fibre is still going through but you’re actually grinding it down quite aggressively, so it ends up being pulverised.
“You don’t technically digest fibre, it’s basically more of a bulking agent in your gut. Because the pulverising means it goes straight through to your stomach, raw juices tend to cause less good bacterial build-up and more gas build-up in the gut. But, by cooking it, like with soups, you soften the fibres so you can actually digest it.”
Now, it’s not wise to start any cleanse without first seeking the medical advice of your practitioner. But, souping is big news in the beauty and health realms right now… In no small part because these mega-watt hits of nutrients in one sitting mean you're reaching your daily nutrient without the effort (most of these soups are packed with nutrient-dense vegetables, some fruits and nuts). These are all the things that set you up to feel amazing on the inside, and have your skin glow on the outside. And, you're eating it slowly, and purposefully (rather than slurping through a straw in a couple of minutes), and sometimes chewing, allowing your body to register the intake of foods so you're less likely to experience bloating and cramping. The cooking process, as Jivan pointed out, also means the ingredients are gentle on the gut.
So, keen to get onto the souping craze? You can of course make your own - our favourite home-cooked nourishing soup is nutritionist and health blogger Jessica Sepel's Zucchini Soup and Cleansing Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Sage. This is the best option if you want to tread lightly and just replace your midday and night meals with warming concoction. If you're ready to go all-in there are some great pre-organised options. We recently tried the Mr Perkins Wellness Cleanse - a three-day program that includes green smoothies, broths, nourishing vegetable soups and even a sneaky chia dessert... The inclusion of fats and seeds means you don't end up with that I'm-near-death kind of hunger that sees you blacking out and waking up to an empty box of chocolate-topped Digestives. The Prodjuice Winter Cleanse (read Sigourney's road-test here) has a combination of soups, juices and solids (chia and cocoa granola for brekky) to keep some balance, and great if you're not sold on breaking up with your green drink hit completely.
But, this is not an ad. There are a couple of things to consider: Like, always check the actual ingredients. Some bought soup cleanses are high in fats (albeit 'good') and salt, that don't agree with everyone. Additions like coconut milk and oil can undo the good intentions of being kind to your stomach, depending on how you personally react to these ingredients. Others are very low in calories. Which, of course, seems like a good thing... But if you're doing physical activity or are simply starting with low energy, you might find you're not getting a sustainable amount of calories. This can cause dizziness and lethargy - the exact opposite of how you want to feel. The key is, listen to your body and take care of yourself. Do what feels right and ask a lot of questions when it doesn't. It's important to get health-checks when you're not feeling right, and ensure you're getting the right nutrients to sustain a healthy and happy life. Pack as many nutrients into your meals as possible, whatever way you choose to serve them, and do what works for you.
Story by Rikki Hodge-Smith and Faarah Ameerally