What happened when we sent Esquire’s gluttonous food editor to a German health clinic for a fast, with instructions to keep a hunger diary? Put down your knives and forks and get ready for an unexpected epiphany
Trying to avoid the excesses of winter? We feel you. While the majority of new year’s resolutions are hard to stick to, a short, sharp juice cleanse might provide just the kick-start to a new health regime that your body is crying out for. So what exactly can you expect from a juice cleanse?The severe all-green juice cleanses you may remember celebs raving about in the early noughties have morphed into something a lot more manageable. Nowadays you can expect most plans to include more satisfying nut milks and even warming soups, which we found really helpful in terms of feeling satisfied and full. While we wouldn’t advocate juice cleansing for any prolonged amount of time, we can see the benefits of a one-off cleanse, especially if you have a big event coming up for which you’d like to lose the bloat and feel your best. Taking away any decision making, you’ll be sent a selection of drinks and an order in which to consume them to reap the biggest rewards. Very helpful, especially if like us, you tend to succumb to the first sign of a cheese toastie when in the queue at Pret.It’s important to note this is not about deprivation; the aim is to get more of the good stuff into your body, so you can function at your optimum levels. Clearer skin, better sleep and boosted immunity were all side effects promised from these cleanses. Our liver and kidneys are already effective at eliminating toxins, however, having a day or two without any junk food or alcohol can only be a good thing.We recommend preparing for the days pre- and post-cleanse. A last supper mentality is only going to make the first day that much harder, so scale back on the caffeine and have a light dinner the day before. There’s also little point in sticking to the juice only to binge on huge portions of fatty food washed down with glasses of wine the very next day. Instead, ease yourself back onto solid foods and be mindful of how they make you feel.While juicing, we’d recommend taking it easy on the exercise front. There’s often no need to skip it altogether (you might actually find you have more energy as your body isn’t busy digesting your food), but you probably won’t be able to bench-press your personal best either. Instead give your body a bit of TLC – energising walks, body brushing, face masks and meditation are all great cleanse activities.Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to cleanse. If you feel you need to supplement your chosen cleanse with light meals, go for it. Do what feels right for your body and enjoy.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. Purearth Medicinal Cleanse: From £58.33 (3 x 250ml, 5 x 500ml, plus Purearth’s superfood greens powder, herbal teas and Epsom salts baths), PurearthThis was the only cleanse that gave us two big bottles of deliciously creamy nut milk right in the middle of the day, which definitely helped to keep us full. As well as tasty green juices, there was also a berry and apple cider vinegar shot which put hairs on our chest and a bottle of medicinal tea which needed to be heated up before bed. To help support the digestive system, you’ll end your cleanse with a water-based kefir which contains 10 billion live cultures per ml (the good kind of bacteria). Nice added extras included Epsom bath salts for luxuriating in when we got home. Ingredients felt well considered, with a focus on using the roots, seeds and berries of various plants to support digestion.Buy now Presscription Signature Cleanse: From £65 for a one-day cleanse (5 x 500ml cold-pressed juices, 1 x 500ml nut milk, 2 x 30ml booster shots), PresscriptionPresscription don’t use HPP (high pressure pasteurisation) to extend the shelf-life of its juices, so if you order a five-day cleanse you’ll get two separate deliveries, meaning everything stays super-fresh. Glass bottles are numbered so you know which order to drink them in and they can be picked up and reused once you’re done. We really liked the medicinal style labels which detailed each juice’s health benefits.Supporting colon, liver and stomach health we woke up with the tangy Green Revive, a combination of cucumber, celery, apple, romaine, lemon, ginger and cayenne. Our niggly little cold was promptly nipped in the bud with the Amber Boost – a truly spicy hit of red chilli, softened out with sweet coconut blossom nectar. You’ll also receive a booklet with pre- and post-cleanse guidance, as well as a schedule for which to consume your juice. A great all-rounder with exciting ingredients that tasted delicious.Buy now Plenish Level 4 Cleanse: From £59 for a one-day cleanse (5 x 500ml juices, 1 x 500ml nut milk), PlenishOne of the first ever cold-pressed juice and juice cleanse companies to launch in the UK, Plenish has recently added a hardcore “Level 4” cleanse aimed at those wishing to lose weight. We say hardcore because this cleanse contains the least sugar – however we actually preferred this, as after a whole day of juicing we were craving something savoury. Being mindful of the environment, each cleanse comes with a glass straw so you’re not contributing to unnecessary single-use plastics (bottles are plastic but widely recyclable), as well as a handy booklet offering guidance.Each day you’ll have six large juices to consume, all weighing in at 500ml, which kept us full between meals. Plenish suggests starting your day with hot water and lemon at 6am, with juices spread out every couple of hours before an early dinner. One of our favourites was Elevate which contained turmeric, almonds, coconut nectar, ginger and pepper. Deliciously creamy and sweet tasting, it felt like a substantial meal. The full day’s cleanse clocks in at 790 calories, so it’s very much aimed at those wanting to kick-start weight loss.Buy now Botanic Lab The Clean Up: From £45 for a one-day cleanse (5 x 250ml juices, 1 x 250ml nut milk, 3 x 100ml shots), Botanic LabThe name of this says it all – it’s a one-day cleanse aimed to clean up your act and allow your body a break from all the heavy digestion it’s been doing – we’re looking at you, second helping of Christmas pudding. Whether as a one-off or more regularly as part of the 5:2 diet, the juices add up to 611 calories and can be drunk alone or alongside light food. There’s an order in which to drink your juices but no times are suggested, so it can fit around your routine. We found that the combination of juices, boosters and plant milks (who can resist chocolate milk) left us feeling satisfied.Buy now Daily Dose Colour Cleanse: From £45 for a one day cleanse (7 x 500ml juices, 1 x 330ml nut milk), Daily DoseThis cleanse is a rainbow of large juices varying from the bright green to the sweetest pink, ending with a smaller bottle of nut milk as a “treat” in the evening. All are vegan, raw and cold-pressed, some with a longer shelf life in case you can’t start immediately. Flavours were really delicious, the Zenzero being one of our favourites with apple, ginger, lemon and fragrant thyme, but overall we did find them on the sweeter side – ideal if you’re new to juicing. Bottles are plastic which makes transporting them easier, but they will need to be recycled accordingly.Buy now Juicy Tox 2 Day Platinum Cleanse: From £64.99 (12 x 250ml juices, 6 teabags, 2 x shots, 2 x lemons), Juicy ToxThis is another brand that only provides the freshest juice (no HPP here). As well as the selection of drinks we also received individually wrapped tea bags to drink in between juices, as well as fiery lemon and ginger shots to wake us up in the morning. Like many of the programmes, you’re encouraged to start the day with warm water and lemon, yet Juicy Tox was one of the only brands to actually provide the fresh lemons which was a nice touch. Packages do currently come with plastic straws, but you can request for these to be left out.Buy now Nosh Detox Juice Fast Diet: From £55 for a one-day cleanse (4 x 500ml juices, 1 x tonic), Nosh DetoxYou’ll start the cleanse with a lemon and ginger water before moving on to the larger juices. With names like the Rehydrator which contains orange, carrots, mango and flaxseeds for omega 3 and 6, and the protein-packed Eliminator with raspberry, grapes and acai, these juices mean business. Containing more pulp than other cleanses we tried, the Nosh Detox juices tasted more like a smoothie, increasing our fibre intake as a result. Despite containing plenty of fruit, we didn’t find any of them overly sweet. Each plastic bottle is printed with a time and a philosophy, providing helpful snippets and motivation to remind you what to expect from the cleanse.Buy now Juice Master Delivered 5:2 Juice Diet: From £94.99 for a two-week box (16 x 420ml drinks), Juice Master DeliveredJason Vale (or The Juice Master to those in the know) has helped many a celeb look and feel their best. He’s the (sometimes controversial) guy behind the Super Juice Me documentary and claims that his juices will not only help you lose weight, but will cure pretty much any other complaint you can think of. Juices are balanced, containing fresh ingredients (think fennel, ginger and lime) before being blitzed and frozen – they’ll last up to a month in the freezer.This particular plan contains enough juices for two weeks, based on you taking part two days of each week (with four juices a day). Juice flavours differ across the two days and can be split up to give you a rest, or drunk consecutively. Either way it’s a great option for those that would rather not count calories on their fasting days.Buy now The Verdict: Juice cleansesWith its innovative ingredients and bounty of added extras, we felt the Purearth Medicinal cleanse represents great value and left us feeling wonderfully refreshed.Stacey Smith is the founder of food and drink website Crummbs
In 2018, a UK-wide stress survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 74 per cent of adults felt so stressed they felt “overwhelmed” or “unable to cope”. “Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us,” said Isabella Goldie, director of the Mental Health Foundation. It makes sense then, that more of us are searching for new ways to improve our mental and physical wellbeing.