We have all heard about the health benefits of the juicing phenomenon. Perhaps you have even experienced some of them yourself:
- More energy
- Easily absorbed nutrition
- More varied nutrition
- Consume fewer calories
- Makes healthy foods taste great
- Better than sodas/fizzy drinks
However, juicing can also have some damaging effects that are lesser known. These include:
- High sugar intake
- Thyroid issues
- Leaving out fiber
- Increased appetite
- Time consuming
People today are looking for a quick fix, something to improve their health or help them drop weight instantly. While juicing has great benefits that we will explore in more detail shortly, its inconvenience as well as many other negative factors that we will look at, may mean that a juice diet or detox is not the miracle cure you are looking for.
The Benefits of Juicing
People decide to get into juicing for all sorts of reasons. It is a popular trend recommended by many internet sites. Juicing for weight loss is recommended by Juice Recipes, Women’s Health and Juicing with G, just to name a few. People also enjoy using juicing as a detox method to clear out their digestive system and rid their body of the nasty additives in processed foods. Juicing does indeed have some great benefits for your health. Let’s take a look at a few in more detail.
Quick Absorption of Nutrients
Juicing with G tells us about the benefit that juices can have when it comes to absorbing vitamins and minerals. With less fiber content to slow down absorption, it is easier for good nutrition to go straight into our body where we need it. As Joe of Reboot with Joe puts it, juicing is essentially ‘fast tracking our nutrients’. It also takes less energy for our body to absorb the nutrients, as Peak Health Now highlights.
Food Republic states that 90% of a fruit’s antioxidants are in its juice. This is a great plus for juicing. Anti-oxidants are vital for fighting the free radicals inside our bodies that cause cell damage. Anti-oxidants promote cell activity and regeneration. Fruit juice is a great way of getting all these anti-oxidants without having to eat your way through an entire plate of fruits and vegetables.
Far Better than some Alternatives
Registered dietitian McCulley told St. Louis that drinking juiced fresh fruits and vegetables would be a great alternative to drinking sodas or iced teas. It has so many more nutrients than fizzy drinks. It also does not contain as much sugar or nasty preservatives or chemicals that our bodies struggle to digest.
Disguises the Taste of Nasty Greens
Although I quite like many vegetables, I wouldn’t always immediately consider them as a tasty snack. But with juicing you can combine the good nutrition of greens like spinach and kale with the sweet tasting fruit to make something extremely delicious. Varying the vegetables we are eating is a great thing, as it means we are gaining more of a variety of vitamins and minerals too.
One of the most convenient things about juicing is that you can use whatever fruits are in season at the time. This also adds to the variety of nutrition you are consuming. And as Natalie Smith at SF Gate reminds us, even if we can’t get our hands on fresh fruit, there is always the option of bottled juice from the local store.
The Draw Backs of Juicing
Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of juicing, particularly when it is done in excess, and some of the measures you can take to combat them.
Loss of Fibre
While some people claim that sticking to an all-juice diet can give the digestive system a break, the opposite could in fact be true. Fiber is an extremely important element in the human diet. It aids digestion and can help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Mayo Clinic also tells us that a high fiber diet lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, WebMD talks about how a high fiber diet can help you lose weight. This is due to the fact that fiber leaves you feeling full faster so that you eat less.
However, juicing actually often leaves the majority of the fiber that was in the fruit behind in the pulp, so you will not get the benefit of it. A lack of fiber will generally leave you feeling more tired and possibly nauseous. It is also likely to leave you feeling hungry meaning you will want to eat more calories than you need. In this case it may be best to take the advice of the Harvard Gazette and just stick with the whole fruits themselves.
Fiber comes in two types, soluble and insoluble, and the soluble kind is still present in juice. As Reboot with Joe’s website tells us, soluble fiber does great things like regulating blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol.
There is the option of using the extra juice pulp that is left over in your cooking so that you do not miss out on the valuable insoluble fiber content. You can use it in the cooking of soups, smoothies, bread and all sorts of other things. You can always simply add it back into your juice. For more great ideas on how to use fruit pulp, Vegetarian Times has some great tips and recipes. Breana Lai at Eating Well also has some great recipes, suggesting using the pulp for bread, as well as chilli and green juice.
High Glycemic Index
Previously in the benefits section we took a brief look at how quickly our body absorbs the nutrients in fruit juice. This is because of its high glycemic index (GI), which means that the absorption rate of carbohydrates in every kind of fruit and vegetable juice, even celery, is higher than that of the raw food product. This means that you are much more likely to be hungrier sooner than if you had just eaten the fruit or vegetable. This makes juicing a tricky option for weight loss, as you will have more food cravings to control.
The lack of protein and fat in juice means you will be missing out on the food substances that fill you up and give you the energy you need. These are also the substances to help you put on muscle weight, so exercise will prove much more tiring on an all juice diet. Again, this will be a setback if you are trying to lose weight.
Levels of Sugar
Another danger of drinking too much fruit juice is excessive sugar consumption. According to Sugar Stacks, a large apple contains 23 grams of sugar, and a large orange is around the same. Even vegetables can contain more sugar than you would expect. Live Strong tells us that a large carrot can contain 3.4 grams of sugar. BBC Good Food also warns us of the high content of sugar in beetroot despite its other health benefits.
Of course, eating a couple of these pieces of fruit per day is fine, but once you introduce multiple juices in a day it is easy to consume unhealthy levels of sugar. Even these natural sugars in excess can be dangerous and can lead to weight gain or worsen problems with blood sugar levels.
Many juice recipes now involve cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Such foods have great nutritional content. However, the Dr Fuhrman website warns that they may cause imbalances in thyroid hormones if consumed in excess. Animal studies have revealed that the glucosinolate compounds found in cruciferous vegetables can compete with the thyroid hormone for the iodine in the body.
This is a very small risk. Unless you are already iodine deficient, it shouldn’t be an issue for you. But with juicing promoting the consumption of many more of these greens that usual, it is something to be aware of.
The Inconvenience of Juicing
The inconvenience with juicing starts with the bulk of the produce. I’m sure I am not the only one who finds that they have a lot less fridge space now they have started juicing. Not only do you need to find space to keep the fruit fresh, but your juicer is likely to take up quite a bit of kitchen space as well. The whole juicing concept is a high maintenance affair. Fruit goes off very quickly, so in order to juice regularly you need to constantly be purchasing fresh produce.
Juicing can also prove time consuming. First of all, as unwashed fruit can cause illness, it is necessary to thoroughly wash each piece of fruit you are using. I have probably been a little too lax with this in the past, but the risk really is not worth taking. Then peeling and chopping all the fruit takes a long time. Cleaning up after juicing is also a pain. Clearing out and disposing of (or storing) the pulp, and washing out the parts of your juicer every time is very time consuming. While it still beats the preparation time of a full meal, it is certainly more hassle than I was expecting.
The other inconvenience of juicing is that you need to drink the juice immediately. As both Mayo Clinic and Inside Tracker warn us, juice should be consumed immediately. You can’t store juice as it can very quickly develop harmful bacteria even when kept in the fridge. Juice needs to be consumed fresh, so every time you want juice, you need to go through the entire juicing process all over again.
To make juicing more convenient, look for a juicer that has fewer parts that have to be washed. You can also use frozen fruit and vegetables in your juice that will stay fresh for much longer. Although they are not the ideal option, it is certainly more convenient if you are juicing every day.
The Expense of Juicing
Due to the constant need of fresh fruit and vegetables, this means the cost of juicing can be high. This especially applies if you are on an all-juice diet, as you will have to buy juices from a café or juice bar when you are out. An eHow writer also explains how these are often priced dearly and can also often be processed in a way that strips them of the original nutritional content of the fruits and vegetables used. Preservatives have to be used in bottled juice in order to prevent harmful bacteria from taking hold.
Just Juice also gives some great ideas about extra things you can add straight into your juice to boost its nutritional content. These include flax seeds, chia seeds, spirulina and maca. But even if these additions are good for your health, the toll they take on your wallet can be pretty hefty too.
Enjoy Juicing in Moderation
People enjoy juicing for whole variety of reasons. Juicing as an added supplement to your diet can be a great thing, as it will increase your intake of the valuable vitamins and minerals found in juice. However, embarking on a complete juice diet or detox is another thing completely. It is advisable to chat with your doctor before you think of beginning a diet wholly made of juice, as this can bring with it dangerous health consequences.
Fruit juices alone do not contain sufficient amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats to sustain your body in its healthiest form, particularly with the high levels of sugar in fruit juice. Although many sources claim the benefits of an all juice diet for weight loss or detox, in the long term this is likely to cause more harm than good.
Overall, juicing is a great and healthy option to boost the amount of nutrition in your diet and increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. If you have the time and money to make juicing a regular habit then it can have some great health benefits. As Joe Cross of Reboot with Joe says, ‘Making fresh juice a part of a well-balanced, plant-based diet is an important tool for achieving good health’.
A moderate fruit juice intake would be a large glass each day. Keep your juicing habits to a healthy level to enjoy the benefits in your life.
If you are looking for equipment take a look at my post about the best juicers available.