Juice Cleansing 101 with Megan May

I still remember my first one-day cleanse. Six drinks, a combination of juices and nut milks, arrived on my doorstep, of which only a few were palatable. By about 2pm my blood sugars had crashed and I wanted to throw in the towel (then dive head first into a pile of cupcakes). I did not feel remotely refreshed and was tired, grumpy and far too hungry for this to be doing my body any good.

Have you ever thought about trying out a juice cleanse, or attempted one only to find that you just didn't get the results you were hoping for? I had a chat with raw food wizard Megan May, founder of Auckland healthy food haven, The Unbakery, about detoxing, choosing the right juice cleanse, and taking your health to the next level. 

I've teamed up with Megan's business, Little Bird Organics & The Unbakery, to give away a fresh, organic juice box valued at over $50. Scroll to the bottom of the post for details!

P.S - A couple of months ago I spoke to Megan about what she eats in a day and her top wellness tips (and she also shared her raw cacao hazelnut slab recipe... which is absolutely delicious). You can read that and get the recipe here.

Juice cleanses have become incredibly popular in the past couple of years - what are your top tips for a successful cleanse that will leave you feeling rejuvenated? 

Megan: Make sure it is organic - I cannot stress this enough. A non-organic juice cleanse defeats the purpose of cleansing, as you will be ingesting many of the same toxic pesticides and herbicides that your body is trying to eliminate.

Drink plenty of water throughout your cleanse (or even better - warm water with lemon), as well as herbal teas containing liver and kidney supporting herbs such as milk thistle, horsetail, licorice root and nettle, for added cleansing and detoxification.

Don't consume coffee, black tea, alcohol, refined sugar, dairy, or heavy foods for a few days prior to and during your cleanse. These stimulant foods are toxic and need to be metabolised by our livers, thereby giving your body more work to do during your cleanse, rather than allowing it to rest and repair. 


Majority of the juices on the market are made from conventional, sprayed produce - what are the benefits of choosing organic? 

Megan: Once again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to choose organic when doing a cleanse. The idea behind a cleanse is to give your kidneys, liver, and digestive system a rest from constantly processing toxins on a daily basis, allowing them to remove built up toxins from your body. By doing a conventional, non-organic cleanse, you are ingesting a concentrated amount of herbicides and pesticides, adding to the toxic load on your kidneys, liver, and digestive system - rather than providing them with an abundance of easily assimilated nutrients while the body rests and repairs.


Why is cold pressed juice favourable over juice made in a standard centrifugal juicer?

Megan: Centrifugal juicers utilise fast spinning metal blades that spin against a mesh filter, separating juice from flesh using centrifugal force. The problem with this method is that the fast spinning blades generate heat, which destroys many of the beneficial enzymes in the fruit and vegetables you are juicing, as well as oxidising many of the nutrients, rendering your juice less nutritious. Cold-press juicers crush and then press fruit and vegetables without excessive heat, thereby keeping a much larger proportion of the nutrients intact and rendering a more nutrient rich juice as a result.


There's been a fair bit of debate regarding juicing vs. blending - where do you stand on that?

Megan: I think both are really beneficial to the body for different reasons. When you consume a fresh, cold-pressed juice, you are providing your body with immediate liquid energy. There isn't much digestive work required, so the cells in your body can use that energy instantly, and your body doesn't have to expel a lot of energy to obtain it. This gives your digestive system a rest, allowing the cells in your body to get to work removing all of the rubbish that has accumulated over time.

However, when you juice, you aren't getting any fibre - fibre is incredibly important for digestive function (but takes a little more work for your body to process). Fibre is a natural prebiotic and plays a really important role in gut health. Smoothies, on the other hand, are a great way to reach your daily fibre requirements. Therefore, rather than pairing one against the other, I would say that they complement each other.


Speaking of blending, nut milks have been brought into the mainstream in a big way recently. People are finally moving away from the idea that non-dairy milks are just for hippies! How do nut milks stack up to dairy milk in terms of nutrition? 

Megan: The subject of milk and calcium is a rather hotly debated one. To this day, milk has been hailed as the hero of all calcium sources. The current recommended daily intake for calcium is around 1,200mg. However, this requirement is based on a diet high in animal protein, which has a high excretion rate of calcium, meaning you will need to consume more calcium to make up for the inherent excretion. However, on a plant-based diet, calcium excretion is much lower, which means that someone eating a plant-based diet can consume much less calcium to obtain their daily requirements (about 500-750mg per day). The amount of calcium we ingest is much less important than how much we actually absorb!

Contrary to popular belief, calcium comes from soil (and isn't magically produced only by cows!), so we can easily obtain enough through a well-balanced, plant-based diet full of calcium rich fruits and vegetables. Overall, in terms of nutrition, both cow's milk and nut milks are rich in vitamins and minerals, however nuts are rich in heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, while cow's milk is primarily saturated fat. The nutritional value also depends on which dairy or nut milk you are buying, or whether you are making your own. 

The choice to consume dairy or non-dairy milk is entirely yours, but don't make the choice because you think you need to consume dairy products to meet your daily calcium requirements, as you can get all the calcium you need from a well-balanced, plant-based diet. It's incredibly easy to make your own nut milk, and fun, too! Try adding hazelnut milk to coffee, creamy macadamia milk to hot chocolate, and almond milk to porridge or cereal.


And last but not least - if you were feeling a bit run down, which of the Little Bird juices would you reach for first?

Megan: Whenever any of us at The Unbakery feel a cold coming on, we run to the fridge and grab a Flu Tonic! It contains turmeric, ginger, tangelo, lemon, colloidal silver, oregano oil and cayenne pepper for their powerful immune boosting, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. This little elixir always works to help nip any nasty bugs in the bud before they strike, or if we don't nab them in time, it helps us recover a lot quicker.

I have a box of 6 organic Little Bird juices to give away to kick start your spring cleanse! Details are over on my Facebook & Instagram pages.

You can also get 10% off all Little Bird cleanses and raw meal plans for the month of September using the following code at the checkout (available in Auckland only) - 


Gemma McLeodComment