I was visiting friends the other day and the conversation got round to talking about juicing. One of my friends had bought a juicer and she was extolling the virtues of this very expensive machine that removes the juice from fruit and vegetables leaving the pulp behind.
I couldn’t help thinking that her latest solution to helping her to lose weight, and increase her nutrient intake, was simply going to add to her weight problems rather than help them.
I bet you’re thinking I thought juices are supposed to be good for you.
They’re convenient aren’t they? Relatively quick to make and are bursting with goodness aren’t they?
Well, from all the hype around the promotion of machines to help you make juices you’d think that. But despite the claims of great weight loss, blood levels returning to healthy levels, increased energy and better overall health there really has been no robust, credible scientific evidence to back up these claims.
As Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University says, ‘There wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove that food chopped up in a blender results in more nutrients being metabolized by the body then if it was served on a plate.’
There’s been lots of anecdotal evidence, but when you consider that a person who starts juicing also usually starts other activities such as exercising, cutting out cakes, biscuits, crisps and increasing their general intake of whole vegetables and fruits, it’s not surprising that moving away from the traditional western diet is helping their health in many positive ways.
The key is to make a long term lifestyle choice, not just jump on a passing fad, to get a quick result that will not last.
But let’s look more into this current fad.
What’s the difference between juicing and smoothie making?
When you juice, you use a machine to extract the juice leaving behind the pulp which is usually just discarded.
When you make a smoothie, you tend to use a blender that literally pulverises the produce to make a smoothie.
Juicing sounds pretty harmless, doesn’t it. Well, here are 5 Surprising Reasons Why You Need To Rethink Your Daily Juice.
1. Drinking juice means that we don’t chew our food. We simply drink it.
Chewing our food is an essential part of the digestive process, as well as our oral and dental health. It’s also associated with feeling fuller and satisfied, as well as being a great exercise for all of our facial muscles.
Chewing our food has also been directly associated with health and longevity.
Drinking fruit juices just doesn’t give us these benefits.
When we chew our food properly, our body releases digestive enzymes in the stomach that help to break down food so that our body can convert it into energy. In a recent study, Dr Richard Mattes, Professor of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University found: “The more you chew, the less (energy) is lost and more is retained in the body.” He found that ‘with more chews, the smaller particles were more readily absorbed into the system.’ Absorption was improved when people chewed almonds 40 times rather than 10 times.
A study published in The Journal of Medical Investigation in August 2006 found the people who were fed via a feeding tube did not digest their food as well as people who were able to chew and swallow their food. The study authors think chewing may stimulate the secretion of stomach acid and autonomous nervous system function in the digestive tract, increasing the speed and efficiency of digestion.
2. We lose all of the fibre when we juice.
Juicers tend to extract every drop of liquid from, say, an orange or apple and leave much of the pith, peel, core and pips behind in the pulp.
But it’s these parts of the fruit that contain the fibre that is so vital for our health. Many readers of my blog posts know that I talk a lot about how wonderful fibre is. You can check out my recent post on fibre here.
As Jeff Novick says: Fibre plays an important role in our diet and health including:
– Providing bulk in stools which helps to maintain bowel regularity and avoiding the straining that may cause problems such as haemorrhoids, varicose veins, and prolapsed uterus;
– Satisfying our hunger drive
– Stabilizing blood sugars
– Reducing elevated lipid levels
– Stimulates intestinal fermentation production of short-chain fatty acids, which may reduce risk of colorectal cancer.
– Binding and eliminating excess hormones, cancer-causing toxins, cholesterol, etc in the stool, which helps with the body’s natural cleansing & detoxifying process
3. It’s not only fibre you lose when you juice.
As Dr Greger says: “But if the only difference between fruit and fruit juice is fibre, why can’t the juice industry just add some fibre back to the juice, sprinkle in a little Metamucil.
Why can’t juice with added fibre be equated with whole fruit? The reason is because we remove a lot more than fibre when we juice fruits and vegetables. We lost all the nutrients that are bound to the fibre.”
These include the majority of polyphenol phytonutrients such as carotenoids (the red, orange and yellow pigments in fruit and veg) and flavonoids.
These phytonutrients may serve as:
- enhance immune response
- cause cancer cells to die
- repair DNA damage caused by smoking and other toxic exposure as well as detoxify carcinogens.
You can read more here: http://www.ars.usda.gov/aboutus/docs.htm?docid=4142
Also check out my article of cruciferous veg.
4. Juices are packed with sugar.
A glass of fruit juice in the morning can have as many, if not more added/free sugars as a glass of any other sugar sweetened beverage, like soda.
The World Health Organisation recommends “… adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake.”
Why? Because sugars present in a variety of food and drinks including fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates increases your risk of being overweight, being obese and having tooth decay.
A study published in The Lancet showed that just a 250ml glass of apple juice typically contains 26.5g of sugar. A 250ml glass of cola also contains 26.5g of sugar.
A high intake of fruit juice is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
5. I’ve heard that juicing fast tracks nutrients into your body.
The most diverse and intact collection of nutrients is delivered to you by eating the whole food whether that’s fruit or vegetables. As outlined earlier, fruit that has been robbed of its skin and pith has been robbed of many of its nutrients that enrich and help your health.
Chewing our food is essential in the process of delivering nutrients to your body and has been directly associated with health and longevity. Chewing is essential to maximise nutrient absorption. Juicing doesn’t allow you to do that.
Did you know that The American Academy of Paediatrics Recommendations on Juice also note:
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit
- Whole fruits also provide fibre and other nutrients
- Excessive juice consumption may be associated with malnutrition, diarrhoea, flatulence, abdominal distension, and tooth decay.
Substitutes – How about a smoothie?
I know that giving up your morning glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or that tarty apple juice may seem a step too far, and you may think that a smoothie is a better alternative, but look at what Dr Campbell says:
There is research to show that if you take exactly the same energy as a liquid instead of a solid, you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food.
In addition, you may be changing the rate and effect of nutrient digestion in important ways. We know that for some food, like rice, if you mechanically turn it into a slurry prior to consuming it, your body reacts with a significantly sharper and faster spike in blood sugar.
Lastly, people who consume green smoothies usually use fruit to make it taste palatable. The energy density of the fruit dwarfs the energy density of the greens and these smoothies usually end up being quite high in sugar.
Remember that drinking water is a great alternative to a juice – it can improve your bowl function, reduce headaches and reduce kidney stones. It may not taste as sweet, but it’ll satisfy your thirst.
If you fancy a sweet drink now and then go for a pure green smoothie with a minimal amount of fruit added. Try and stay clear of juice as much as possible. I’ll be continuing to stick with my whole orange or whole apple whenever possible and drinking water throughout the day. (Plus the odd cup of black and green tea!)
If you’re just starting out on your plant-based journey then the following articles will help you.
How to get started on your plant-based journey to learn about the power plate. It was developed by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and provides optimal health for you and your family and is brilliantly flexible so you can eat in a way that suits your taste and lifestyle whilst getting all the nutrients you need.
If you’re struggling to eat more whole grains everyday, check out my five tips to help you here: How to easily eat more whole grains everyday
A typical food plan for the day may look like this:
Oatmeal/porridge for breakfast made with water or plant-based milks such as rice milk. Topped with fresh fruit such as sliced banana. Two slices of wholemeal toast, spread with 100% fruit jams. Read about my 7 of the best ever plant-based breakfasts
Water and/or tea or coffee, black or made with plant-based milks.
Mid morning snack of fruit, or read my post on 11 simple plant based snacks to enjoy at work
For an afternoon snack remember to check out my suggestions here: 11 simple plant based snacks to enjoy at work
Now it comes to dinner. What’s quick to make, nourishing and doesn’t cost the earth? Try some of my delicious dinner recipes.
Let me know in the comments section below if you’ve found my post: 5 Surprising Reasons Why You Need To Rethink Your Daily Juice useful. I always love hearing from you!