Juice bars are opening in record numbers, home juicers are the hot kitchen appliance, and your local grocer is displaying bright red and green, bottled juices.

As you try to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, juicing can be an easy way to get more nutrients from kale, spinach, tomato and beets into your diet. Juice cleanses are naturally gaining in popularity, too. A juice cleanse eliminates all other food for a day or more, and relies on only juice for all your nutrients and calories. Cleanses are not for everyone, but some view it as a way to jump start weight loss, examine eating habits, detox the body, or practice self-discipline.

A Cleanse Worked for Her

“I did the cleanse as a “reset” for my eating habits. It helped me to realize how much I was unconsciously snacking and eating that doesn’t make me feel good, or when I’m not even hungry,” says Eleanor Lipinski of Wilmette, who has done a three-day juice cleanse. “The first time I cleansed, I felt fabulous. By the third day, I felt more alert mentally, like a runner’s high. I also lost my desire for coffee in the morning and now drink tea.”

Details of the Cleanse

Whitney Fitzgerald, owner of True Juice in Winnetka, teamed up with a nutritionist and chef to create their unique juices. “True Juice’s goal is to inspire and empower people to greater health and vitality through organic, whole plant-based foods that are cold pressed for a program that is delicious, realistic and balanced.” True Juice’s cleanses supply approximately 1,400 to 1,600 calories a day for about $65 and are not recommended for longer than three days.

“People are usually concerned about protein, but there is a wealth of amino acids (proteins) in greens,” Fitzgerald says. “We offer an almond milk that has 18 grams of protein per serving.” She suggests you prepare for a juice cleanse “by eliminating alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, excess salt and refined sugars. It is a good time to incorporate plenty of fresh fruit and veggies… This will ease your transition. After a cleanse, it is important to reintroduce foods slowly, beginning with soups, salads and steamed veggies.”

Not a Weight-Loss Program

“I have recommended a cleanse to friends, not as a means of weight loss—although I did lose five pounds each time, but gained it back within a week or so—but there is a lot you can learn about yourself, and it can help you to change some bad habits,” Lipinski says.

Dr. Robert Kushner, internationally know for his work related to obesity, cautions: “Diets do not need to be jump started with a cleanse. What is needed is adoption of a healthy eating plan that is practical and sustainable. It is myth that the body needs to be ‘cleaned out’ or that ‘toxins need to be discharged.’ Rather than spending time and money on cleansing, spend time mapping out how to eat a healthy, balanced and sensible diet.”

Time to Get Back to Basics

According to Monique Ryan, Registered Dietician, “There is no scientific evidence demonstrating that juices are as nutritious as the whole fruits and vegetables. If you are interested in a cleaner diet, try to minimize your intake of processed foods and consume plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. You should also reduce or eliminate caffeine intake and alcohol. Aim for whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats, particularly monounsaturated fats.”

Although Dr. Jennifer Bierman of Northwestern Memorial Hospital doesn’t recommend juice cleanses to patients, she recognizes that a cleanse can be beneficial. “Some patients tell me they gain confidence in themselves to make better choices after a cleanse,” she says. “I still think many people have inflated views of the health benefits.”

Before committing to a juice cleanse, consult your physician. For those with underlying medical conditions, a cleanse could be dangerous. Side effects of a cleanse vary from person to person but may include: nausea, fatigue, irritability, and headaches; heavy exertion and exercise may be challenging.

So if you are still thinking about trying a cleanse, do some research and consult with your doctor. If the cleanse doesn’t sound appealing, at least try a juice from True Juice or some of the other juice bars in the area. The Suja Juice, sold at Whole Foods, is another convenient option. These power-packed juices can be an effective supplement to your healthy diet even if they aren’t the main course.