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Dr. Oz: Juicerexia, or extreme juice fasting, can cause fatal heart damage

Dr. Oz says women who do extreme juicing, or juicerxia, can die from heart damage.
Dr. Oz says women who do extreme juicing, or juicerxia, can die from heart damage.Fox screencap

Dr. Oz sounded the alarm on a new eating disorder called juicerexia, or extreme juicing, on the Jan. 3 episode of the Dr. Oz Show. (This episode first aired Oct. 15.)

"Addicted to the rapid weight loss, some woman are taking this new diet craze to dangerous extremes," said Dr. Oz. "Women who do these juice cleanses can, and do, die from heart problems."

In a juice cleanse, you eat no food, just fruit or vegetable juices for a few days or weeks. The extreme low-calorie diet results in fast weight loss, but Dr. Oz said it's mostly water weight and muscle mass — something you definitely don't want, since muscle is what keeps your metabolism fired up.

Dr. Oz's guest was a woman named Kai (pictured), who has been juicing on and off for the past 10 years. A few years ago, Kai lost 84 pounds on a 125-day juice fast. However, Kai gained all the weight back within a year of ending her cleanse.

Kai continues to struggle with her weight, and told Dr. Oz she still does juice cleanses (unsuccessfully) to drop a few pounds here and there. "I'll juice, but then I'll gain the weight back," she lamented.

Dr. Oz explained that while the rapid weight loss of juicexeria can be addictive, it results mostly in water loss and muscle loss, and dieters almost always experience rebound weight gain shortly after their juice fast.

What's more, the lack of nutrients from consuming only juice can result in deadly heart damage. "The heart will literally disintegrate, it'll melt away, without nourishment," said Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz spoke to psychologist Brenda Wade about the dangers of juicerexia. She said she has seen an explosion in juicerexia during the past few years as juice fasts have become more popular. Dr. Wade said women who do extreme juicing eventually become addicted and develop full-blown eating disorders.

Wade told Dr. Oz that juicerexics, like anorexics or bulimics, need to figure out the emotional issues behind their disordered eating and addiction to dieting. She said once you find the emotional root of your problems, it's easier to kick an eating disorder and become healthy again.