[dropcap]A[/dropcap]pril 6th 2014. The media reports about the sudden death of socialite Peaches Geldof; 25-year old mother of 2 young children. My sincere condolences to family and friends.
Several speculations have been made, but the latest report about Peaches possible cause of death is the theory that she might have died from her vegetable juice diet. In this article I would like to seize the unfortunate death of Peaches to address the serious dangers of juice/detox/cleansing diets.
Downside of Juice Cleanses
If you might ask if it is possible to die from healthy diet choices, the answer is whole heartedly: yes you can. First of all let me make clear that a vegetable juice diet is not necessarily healthy. Yes, vegetable juices are full of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The downside of these kind of juice cleanses is though that
– Vegetable juice cleanses exclude important and necessary nutrients
– Vegetable juice cleanses commonly are low in caloric value
Does this explain that Peaches could have died from her vegetable cleanse diet? Well, no, I don’t think so. There is another explanation that I find more plausible.
Dangers of detox diets
Juice fasting is a strategy use a lot by people that want to become healthier by detoxing the liver. As a side effect, weight loss is induced. Juice fasting can come with some severe health problems though, that could even lead to death. According to Butler (1992), juice fasting does not cleanse or rest the liver. On the contrary, it overworks the liver by saturating it with toxins produced by fasting itself.
Furthermore, fasting can lead to “acidosis that produces weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression, depressed libido, and a sick feeling” (Jarvis, 1995). Rapid loss of among others water, sodium, and potassium can cause fainting.
Heart Rhythm Distrurbances
Things are really bad when potassium is severely depleted, as this causes an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause a heart rhythm disturbances and death as a result (Jarvis, 1995). This is a common cause of death of people with severe anorexia nervosa.
Although it’s just a speculation as no details are brought out, Peaches death certainly could have been caused by her vegetable juice diet, as this diet can severely deplete potassium levels and cause heart rhythm disturbances.
What can you learn from this?
Be very careful with detox and cleansing diets. There is no evidence that detox diets work to cleanse the liver. They do induce weight loss, but this weight loss is temporarily and mainly consists of loss of water weight, which in turn can be dangerous. For these reasons, I don’t recommend detox/cleanse diets.
If you want to lose weight, aim for the long term. Workout regularly, not excessively. Eat well and don’t under eat more than 20% of your BMR (I wrote something about the BMR here).
Maybe the latter is something for another article. Would you guys like me to write more about how to lose weight in a healthy way?
- Butler, K. (1992). A Consumer’s Guide to “Alternative Medicine.” Prometheus, p.60.
- Jarvis, J. T. (1995). Fasting.
Copyright image: Hunterpix @ Flickr