Juice cleanses have been all the rage for the past several years, as women and men are starting to puree their fruits and vegetables into drinkable concoctions. But a new, and very disturbing, trend has surfaced lately: juice cleanses for kids. And they're bad. Like, really, really bad.
Turns out, grade school-aged kids are now flocking to the spinach, kale, and beet mixtures. A California-based company has even been selling a Children's Cleanse of liquid extracts that's are meant for kids from 2 to 12. That means that your toddler, and even your growing preteen, can now rid their body of toxins and -- bonus! -- probably shed a few pounds.
Is this crazy or what?
Doctors think so.
"Children don't need to cleanse," says Tanya Altmann, M.D., and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. "There's an emotional side to cleansing for adults. Often, it's so that they can refocus on nutrition, but children don't need that."
The time before puberty is one of the most crucial moments of rapid growth and development in a child, says Dr. Altmann. Simply put, kids need their nutrients in order to properly develop their bodies and grow those extra few inches. Instead of helping them foster that, juice cleanses actually can stunt their development.
"Going on a juice-only cleanse can put a child's body into starvation mode," says Dr. Altmann. When a child immediately switches from solid foods to liquid-only, the body cannot compute the change. And when they don't have the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins, they can become so hungry that they can't concentrate. Without a daily intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy (or a healthy alternative), their growing body just can't supply the brain with the needed nourishments.
If you're worried your child isn't eating healthfully, there's no need to go to extremes. There are all kinds of ways to change up a diet without going on a liquid-only purge.
- Incorporate vitamin-filled juices into your family's regular diet.
- Substitute a soda with a healthy blend of fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, oat bran, and walnuts.
- Instead of going "all juice" go "no sugar." Cut out sugary marshmallow cereals, eliminate sugar from your coffee, and serve fruit for dessert.
As long as your kids are getting the foods they need every day, adding a healthy smoothie can be delicious ... and nutritious. But all juice, all the time? Not a good idea.
Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Would you ever put your child on any type of cleanse?
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