Fat, Sick & Really Into Juice

Chris Taylor is an example of someone who randomly watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix and took it to heart. Despite feeling that it came across as "one long ad for Breville," the 39-year-old Taylor, who's an editor and lives in San Francisco, was inspired to try juicing. He took over his wife's new Breville and became, he says, "that annoying person who had to tell everyone. I brought a cooler full of juices to a party and went ’round insisting that everyone try it."

Although he hasn't jumped into a full-on, Cross-style fast, Taylor skips a few meals here and there and just drinks juice. He's been "losing weight in all the right places." His friends have told him he has more "sparkle." Now the Breville even has its own designated furniture: a large wooden Ikea cart with shelves for fruit and bottles. The juicer rests on top, on a piece of cork. "It's to deafen the sound," Taylor explains. "It's noisy. I can't juice after 11 at night for fear of waking the neighbors."

Food blogger Ryan Rice heard about Cross's film from his boss, started juicing, felt "amazing," and lost 20 pounds. It wasn't his first brush with juicing: When he was in his early 20s, he had mono, and cured it faster than his doctor expected (he thinks) by drinking juice every day.

Rice's quick recovery illustrates the sort of health claims that juicing proponents have made. They invoke phytochemicals—plant compounds thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers and help fight disease—beneficial enzymes, increased metabolism, better absorption of nutrients, and the opportunity to detoxify the body and give the liver and digestive system time to rest and catch up. Juicing is "your key to radiant health," promises one site.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Cross adopts a messianic tone in describing the benefits of a Reboot juice fast. "It allows a person to experience what I call Human 2.0," he says. "You cannot help but go through transformation because you're only putting premium fuel into your body that it doesn't have trouble metabolizing. After 15 days, your taste buds will reset. … Your joints don't hurt as much. You wake up full of energy, and you have this revitalization. It's nothing short of climbing a mountain and experiencing how beautiful the view is."

Nutritionists tend to be a bit less hyperbolic. "The liver doesn't need to catch up," says Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian and the author of Healthy in a Hurry. "One of its main functions is to detoxify carcinogens—that's its job. It's not overburdened." While Ansel, who is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, does laud the benefits of the vitamins and minerals found in juice, and advocates having a glass with meals, she says the lack of dietary fiber can be problematic, as can the natural sugars found in fruit juice. "Sixteen ounces of orange juice has more calories than a can of soda," she says. And fasting, say nutritionists, can be dangerous, particularly for those with medical issues.

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