Drinking your meals sounds like heaven for some, and hell for others -- but Julie McClure is on a mission to convince either side that it's exactly what they need.
Benourished, McClure's company, is in the business of nutritional cleanses, offering up a variety of meal options to fulfil people's daily caloric intakes. While there are salads and snacks available, the big push is for juice cleanses, a trend that has not been without its controversy.
Medical professionals against the practice emphasize the body's natural cleansing systems and insist there's no reason to try out these regimens -- particularly if they're being used as dieting tactics.
The Master Cleanse, a program based on a book published in the 1940s, is the one often discussed in reference to juice cleanses. It has also, however, added to the controversy, given its focus on laxatives and one juice consisting of lemonade and cayenne pepper.
From McClure's perspective, however, cleanses are less about weight loss, which comes mostly from losing water weight, and much more about nutrition.
"Our philosophy is to give your digestive system a break for a few days," she explains. "Particularly with the standard North American diet, people are eating foods that irritate the body. So we just want to flood you with nutrients in a very clean diet so that more of your energy can be dedicated to your repair and catching up."
The company offers programs of all-juice or juice and food combinations, ranging from two days to a full week. The juices are hydraulically pressed for maximum nutritional value, and include products with names like Zesty Lemonade juice (for better circulation) and Maca Magic snack bar (to balance energy without caffine).
SEE: 10 of the most cleansing ingredients for your system included in Benourished's products. Story continues below:
Side effects on the first or second day of a cleanse can include headaches, symptoms of a cold and low energy, and some people have complained of nausea. But the benefits, McClure notes, include feeling less bloated, feeling generally lighter, brighter eyes, glowing skin, and better sleep.
"Sleep’s been a big one," she says. "I think you’re taking out a lot of the stimulants and it’s very clean eating, so you sleep soundly."
For those diving into the cleanse, she recommends phasing out dairy, meat, eggs, gluten, refined sugars, alcohol, coffee, corn and soy beforehand -- the major allergens McClure says irritate the digestive system.
Though McClure says none of her clients have had adverse reactions to the cleanse, she does warn against those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, have a compromised immune system or have diabetes doing a cleanse. And she tells all clients to let their GPs know about any changes in diet.
McClure, who studied naturopathic medicine and credits nutrition with helping her get over a chronic migraine condition, stresses the importance of changing your diet slowly. "Even adding a Green Alkalizer juice [based on leafy greens] to your normal diet is a major step forward if you're used to a lot of processed foods."