Too Much of a Good Thing?! (Why I’m Breaking My Juice Fast Early)

As some of you already know, in 2014 I managed to completely turn around my poor health and obesity by simply changing the manner in which I ate. I lost 70 pounds, reversed my high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increased my energy/stamina, gained mental clarity, improved my skin and general mood, adopted a 100% plant-based (mostly whole food) diet, all while killing the bad habits that got me to such an unhealthy point: caffeine, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, otc and prescription medications, refined sugars, highly processed food, white flour, junk food, dairy and eggs. Removing these things may seem rather extreme but to me, they were all essential steps in beginning to take control and care for my now “middle-aged” body.

I’ve made a variety of nutritional changes to my vegetarian diet during 2014 (including finally cutting out eggs and dairy entirely). But I’d say juicing was the number one thing that really sparked my transformation. By committing to drink ONLY extracted juice (no pulp) for a predetermined period of time, the body receives many benefits such as improved eating habits, disease reversal, detoxification, weight loss, stronger immune system, increased stamina/energy, better skin…the list goes on. First and foremost, juicing gives your over-taxed digestive system a long needed break. By digesting only nutrient rich liquid each day your kidneys, liver, respiratory and immune systems are all able to work together in harmony to absorb the good stuff and get rid of the bad. Most of these claims would be denied by a conventional doctor (we won’t get into that now); the most you’ll get out of them is “eat more fruits and vegetables…and then take these drugs too”…ha!! In any case, I can attest to the power of juicing because it changed my life exactly in the manner it claimed. Through 4 juice fasts of varying lengths (20 day, 10 day, 10 day and 5 day) over a period of about 6 months, my body basically went back to what it was when I was a teenager, aside from the stretchy skin it left behind. Lean, strong, energetic…very much so the closest thing to a miracle I have ever witnessed in my lifetime (well…seeing my son and daughter born is up there too).

Fast forward to 2015, juicing and blending are an integral piece of my everyday lifestyle. I’m still super healthy…kept off all of the weight. I’ve been feeling so good, in fact, that I wanted to celebrate the anniversary of my first juice reboot by doing another 10 day one; as sort of a “reaffirmation” of my continual commitment to eating well. But two weeks before I began this fast, I started experiencing some stomach cramping when I drank certain mixtures in a smoothie or a juice. I kind of brushed it off in hopes that it was just a fluke thing but it continued each time I’d have one. Could it be too much sugar? Could it be too much fiber? Could it be too many probiotics? Could I have built up some intolerance to a mixture of certain fruits, vegetables or seeds? Could it be entirely something else? I didn’t know. So, I did what I do best…I began researching and found a vast sea of information on what could be happening to me; but still, no definitive answer. All I knew was that I was still going to do my juice fast one way or another; I was hoping that going on the fast would reset my body’s nutrition levels and completely do away with the problem on it’s own. Not so. In fact, too much juicing could be part of the problem itself.

Only 3 days into my juice fast and still experiencing the random stomach pain, my wife encouraged me to consult a doctor. I agreed to call a local Naturopath doctor (N.D.) who works in the same practice as my Hydro-Colon Therapist. After confusing the doctor with my drawn out, unfocused ramblings over the phone, she agreed to take me on as a patient and I got a lucky appointment for the following day. After showing up there with my whole sorted, complex story of how I eat and why, the doctor became comfortable “collaborating” with me, as opposed to talking at me (as she began doing when we first sat down). I think after seeing all of the research I had done as well as my general knowledge on my own nutrition, she realized that I really had my health in order; I wasn’t just some dude jumping on the bandwagon of some new fad diet. That said, she agreed with a few of my “self-diagnosed” theories which included sensitivities to too much natural Fructose (in the high sugar fruits and veg) OR too much fiber (from naturally occurring Inulin, Chia, Flax, Psyllium Husk + all the other plant sources I get everyday) OR too many probiotics (in my Protein Powder, PB8 supplement, Kombucha, Miso, Coconut Yogurts, etc). The repetitive theme here is the “EXCESSIVE” part. Some people like to target vegans and say ignorant shit like “YOU AREN’T GETTING ENOUGH of XXXXX”….well, for the record…it’s not a problem of deficiency: I’m getting TOO MUCH of XXXXX! Now, the doctor and I just have to work together to figure out what “XXXXX” is. Her further thinking began pointing toward the fact that since I drink juice and smoothies so often, these nutrients are being delivered in a “concentrated” form. Can this be the key? Is it that I’m putting too many ingredients in them OR I’m drinking them too often OR a combination of both? Either way, we have a plan of attack which started with me ending my juice fast early and transitioning back onto my normal vegan diet. I need to scale back and eat even more simply, paying closer attention to which nutrients I’m getting from where. As each day passes, I need to slowly throw in a juice or smoothie and begin adding supplements one at a time to see if we can pinpoint an offender.

Overall, the doctor was not surprised to hear that I hadn’t seen another physician since May 2013 (my last visit to a conventional M.D.)…she said although I’m super healthy, look and feel great, I may be going a little on the extreme side with my daily juicing and smoothie habits. And as I critically ponder that, I can’t say that I disagree. I had a feeling for a while that both a juice and a smoothie each day may be a bit much…especially with the amount of ingredients I’ve been putting in them. I mean, doing the fasts last year was a NEEDED regimen to snap me out of my bad eating habits. It was extreme because it needed to be in order to get me on a good track…but now that I am on that track, I have to simply find the right balance of juicing, blending and eating. I see this not as a setback but more of a fine-tuning of what I’ve already been doing.

The takeaway: Is being too healthy a bad thing? No. But it can be without proper BALANCE. We all see health as such a fantastic thing; but that can blind us to the fact that too much of a good thing can cause problems as well.

Keep it up!

-Chris

5 Comments

  1. Hi Chris,

    I discovered your blog last year through Joe Cross, as I am a big believer in healthy nutrition, physical health/fitness, etc. I teach yoga all throughout NYC. :). Anyway, I really enjoy reading your posts and this one was no exception. One of my colleagues did a juice fast using lots of greens each morning. He is strong, fit, teaches fitness classes and simply wanted to incorporate more nutrients into his daily life. He ended up in this hospital with kidney stones! He was treated and released, without making the connection between the juice and the stones. He started drinking the juice again, with the same results, only this time he did not call a doctor for help and passed out on the floor from pain! Yikes! Like you, it turns out he was taking in so many nutrients – without diluting them with enough water. So, for what it’s worth, I wanted to share that with you, as I immediately thought of him reading your post. I drink a green smoothie each day, using Amazing Grass (LOVE it!) and mixed with fruit and coconut water. I also love to juice, but throwing things in a blender is easier and faster (along with cleanup). Since my colleague’s stomach/kidney stone issues, though I have always been a big water drinker, I am very mindful of consuming at least 2 quarts of water per day. Good luck with your Naturopath. I look forward to reading more from you. All the best, Suzanne.

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  2. Hi Suzanne, yes…I have heard about some instances as you had described. Those cases are far and few; they usually only occur in individuals who are susceptible to Oxalate Acid toxicity.

    FROM ARTICLE LINK BELOW: Some foods increase oxalate levels in the body more than others. These include rhubarb, soy, dark leafy greens, beets, chocolate, wheat bran, and tea. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, however, you can mitigate the effects by drinking fluids and consuming more dietary calcium.

    http://kimberlysnyder.com/blog/2012/05/29/response-to-article-how-green-smoothies-can-devastate-your-health/

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