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Dr. Oz reveals how extreme juicing cleanse diets can lead to eating disorders

Learn about the addictive nature of juice cleanses.
Learn about the addictive nature of juice cleanses.
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Everybody's doing it - juicing, that is. And although a glass of juice isn't going to damage your health, Dr. Mehmet Oz warns that extreme juicing has become a dangerous diet fad that can lead to eating disorders. On his Jan. 3 talk show, Dr. Oz explored how juice cleanses impact your health and the risks that they pose.

Can existing on juice be equated with an eating disorder? Yes, and it's called juicerexia. This condition results from staying on a juice cleanse so long that the extreme weight loss benefits become addictive.

Although juice cleanses have been featured on the "Dr. Oz Show," they were short-term. Joe Cross served as Dr. Oz's expert on this show and explained his three-day weight loss cleanse: Read about what it involves by clicking here. In addition, Joe has a new book providing details on how to use his approach: "The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel Amazing" (click for details).

What you should know: When you lose weight, the ideal plan allows you to maintain muscle mass while burning fat. In contrast, because it does not provide your body with protein, a juice cleanse taken to extremes results in the loss of muscle.

Moreover, part of the weight loss from a juice cleanse is excess water. When you begin eating normally again, you will gain back that weight and, potentially, gain even more. It's a cycle that typifies crash diets.

Dr. Oz's expert on the addictive nature of this diet, Dr. Brenda Wade, says that you should beware of these symptoms of juicerexia:

  • You're obsessed with the weight loss and the preparation of your food.
  • You find yourself on a weight loss/weight gain roller-coaster.

Another problem, Marie Claire magazine recently reported, is that some extremely slender women are abusing cleansing diets, taking them to extremes in order to get dangerously thin. These so-called "juicerexics" begin innocently, with a desire to get healthy. However, as they lose weight and are praised for their discipline, they became addicted to the process. These starvation cleanses can be extremely dangerous, as women deprive themselves of essential nutrients.

Among the risks:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Reduced ability to battle illness
  • Extreme fatigue

Johanna Kandel, founder of the Florida-based Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, told Marie Claire that these cleanses can be extremely dangerous, with one girl ending up in treatment after going on a juice cleanse.

"It wasn't the cause, but it was the drop that made the cup overflow," says Kandel. "Cleanses bring food and
ritualistic behavior into focus."

One company is trying to prevent that problem. Tim Martin, founder and CEO of Los Angeles–based iZO Cleanse, admits that "cleanses can turn into an eating disorder if they're used as an excuse to binge afterward." Calling that behavior "macrobulimia," he has his clients confirm that they don't have eating disorders and to commit to a balanced post-cleanse diet.

"We try very hard to discourage misuse of the cleanse," says Alexis Schulze, cofounder of Nékter Juice Bar.