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How to Do a Juice Detox Without Accidentally Killing Yourself

So you’ve spent the weekend sucking down rib meat, pie, and subpar American lager, and now you feel disgusting. Rightly so. Perhaps you need a juice detox. But pay attention to what you're sticking in your juicer—there's a lot of stuff that might kill...
Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr

DISCLAIMER: FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. DON'T RE-ENACT ANYTHING DESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE.

So you've spent the weekend sucking down rib meat, pie, and subpar American lager, and now you feel disgusting. Rightly so. Perhaps you need a juice detox.

Juice can cure just about anything, juicing advocates say: autism, cancer, eczema, maybe even that werewolf disease. Sure, they're might not be much data to back up those claims. But who needs randomized controlled trials when you can just listen to your body and know that it's working? How could anything so natural be bad for you?

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Now, let's to get juicing.

First, you'll need some leafy greens. Maybe some spinach, maybe some beet tops that you just couldn't bear to toss into the compost? And what about those rhubarb leaves that always end up wasted? Why don't people eat those?

Oh, it could be all that oxalic acid. Before you chuck those greens into your masticating juicer, remember that they're full of the stuff, which mechanics use to strip rust from old carburators and janitors rub into on toilet seats as an antibacterial polish. Too much—especially in the case of rhubarb leaves—causes irreparable kidney damage and can give you an oxalate stone the size of Gobstopper. If you experience abdominal pain, a weak pulse, or convulsions, you know it's working. But hey, your veins will be rust-free.

A little spinach is just fine, though—but for all that is good and holy, please remember to wash it. Yes, I know it's prepackaged and that the little sticker says it's been washed three times already. But remember that outbreak of E. coli in 2006? That shit was prepacked and organic, too. Organic coliform bacteria, crawling all over your $7 clamshell of spinach.

Now, not all E. coli is bad, but the worst of it is pretty fucking scary. Some strains produce shiga toxin, which acts on the body like ricin and can cause hemorrhagic diarrhea and kidney failure. Also remember that E. coli, clostridium, hep A, and host of other pathogens enter your body via the fecal-oral route, which is just as horrifically scenic as it sounds. Basically, animals and other humans shit, and that shit somehow ends up on your food, and then you eat it, because these little prokaryotic microorganisms evolved long ago to know that you're invariably too lazy to properly wash your hands. Nature is truly glorious.

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Speaking of E. coli, let's talk about sprouts, AKA the microbial cluster bomb of the raw food world. You know the drill: Soak beans or seeds and leave them in a humid, bacteria-loving environment for several days, frequently forgetting to change the water, where pathogens can multiply like rabbits on sex drugs. Just last month, 17 people in five states were sickened with E. coli from clover sprouts, but that's only one outbreak in a long list dating back to the early 1970s, when at-home sprouting kits beget a number of cases of Bacillus cereus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Since then, mung bean, alfalfa, radish, and clover sprouts have turned thousands around the world into quivering puddles of gastroenteric agony.

Moving down the produce aisle, let's look at fruits. Now, if you want to throw a little lime in your margarita mocktail in a mason jar, take a moment to remember where you put your hazmat suit. The juice of lemons, limes, parsnips, and carrots contains compounds that sensitize your skin to the UV rays in sunlight. On a beautiful summer day, that can turn your sun-kissed skin into a raw hide of swollen blisters and painful burns. Last year in California, phytophotodermatitis or "lime disease" sent five little girls to the emergency room after they set up a limeaid stand. At the time, doctors worried they'd have permanent scars.

Fine, so citrus fruit is out. Let's consider antioxidants. Maybe you've heard that pomegranate juice is, among other things, the new dick-fixer, turning that limp schmeckle into a fruit-juice-powered passion piston. There's some evidence for this. But there's also a case study of three dudes who took pomegranate juice with Viagra and each wound up in the ER with an excruciating, thundering erection. Or, to use the study's descriptors, an "engorged, edematous, erect penis with tense and tender corpus cavernosa."

Oh God, don't even talk to me about celery juice. Uncooked celery contains compounds that inhibit iodine uptake and, in sufficient quantities, can turn your neck into one giant goiter. And parsley! It's full of apiol, which causes uterine contractions. Before the advent of modern drugs, women used to take parsley to induce abortion.

Maybe let's just put away the juicer for now, and pass the ribs.