Shady advice from an “alternative therapist” in Israel has left a woman suffering from malnutrition and potentially permanent brain damage.
Israeli news source Mako reports that a woman in the Tel Aviv District of Israel was recommended a juice-only diet by her therapist, consisting of nothing but fruit juices and liters upon liters of water. After three weeks of the diet, she was hospitalized in a serious condition at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.
She was reportedly suffering from a severe salt imbalance and disturbed electrolyte levels, a condition known as hyponatremia. This condition is typically associated with drinking too much water, however, the real crux of the problem lies in sodium levels in the body becoming too diluted. This causes water to leave the blood and enter cells through the process of osmosis, causing them to swell up. The result is a range of symptoms, including fatigue, confusion, nausea, headaches, and even seizures.
"Hyponatremia is when your sodium levels drop, and it can be deadly," Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told Health. "If [the patient] was only drinking orange juice and water, it's not surprising."
There’s not much in the way of scientific research into the nutritional benefits (or lack of) associated with a strict juice diet, but there have been other reports of people suffering a similar fate to this Israeli woman.
Needless to say, most scientists are not convinced by the claims of "juicing". Juice diets lack many key nutrients, such as protein, iron, essential fats, and dietary fiber. They can also be high in natural sugars. Nevertheless, juicing has become an increasingly popular fad in recent years as a supposed quick-fix weight-loss and health routine. There are also claims that it can help "detox" the body, which remains totally unsubstantiated by scientific research.
“People are getting their info from the massage therapist or the clerk at the health food store who may not know the potential risks,” Dr Ronald Stram, medical director and founder of the Center for Integrative Health and Healing in Delmar, told The New York Times in 2009.
As Mako notes: “Anyone can declare himself a therapist and start receiving paid patients... Among all the therapists who have studied regularly in recognized schools for complementary medicine, there are also quite a few charlatans.”