Fresh juice is nothing new – people have realized the benefits of juicing fruit and vegetable from thousands of years ago. But it wasn’t until these recent years that juicing has become a trend, especially among the health-conscious.
Is drinking lots of fruit and veggie juices really that good for you?
Do a Google search on “is juicing healthy” and hundreds of articles will appear on the topic. The opinions may vary slightly, but you will most likely find a general consensus: juicing can bring about great health benefits. However, like everything else, there are risks to it if you don’t do it the right way.
The benefits of juicing – why it’s more than a fad
Juicing is good for you in two major ways.
First, it turns a high volume of whole fruits and veggies into a glass of juice, making it a lot easier and faster to consume them. You get the nutrients you need without having to eat a big bunches of leaves, roots, and fruits. It apparently takes a lot less time to juice and drink half a cabbage than it would to eat it.
Second, since the juice is highly concentrated in vitamins and nutrients and is deprived of most of the fiber, the digestion happens with much more ease and at a much faster speed. If you are to practice yoga, go for a run or go to gym in an hour or so, drinking a small glass of juice won’t make you violate the eat-2-hours-before-workout rule.
To see how juicing works for different people, let’s meet two of the millions of long-term juicing fans all over the world.
Juicing and the vegetarian
Tim is on his way to become a vegetarian.
He still eats meat and fish occasionally, but for moral as well as health reasons, he has been trying to cut on animal-related foods and opting for a plant-based diet. That requires him to consume a large amount of veggies as well as fruits, roots and seeds in order to get enough protein, fat, and other nutrients and phytonutrients.
Tim is aware that while five cups of fruits and veggies can keep his stomach full for at least several hours, that alone wouldn’t provide him the energy needed for his activities during these hours. The solution? Nutrient-dense juices.Tim uses a juicer not only to reduce the amount of fiber intake resulted from the consumption of lots of veggies, but also to add variety to the way his foods are prepared.
He also uses the food processing function of his juicer to make almond milk, pumpkin soup, peanut butter and other drinks and liquid-based foods. He also grinds his own coffee powder using the machine.The juicer is a great companion for Tim to keep on his semi-vegetarian diet.
Juicing for the meat-lover
Sally is a total carnivore.
It’s not that she is against the killing and consumption of vegetables for food, it’s just she’s not the biggest fan of their tastes.
She knows she need to eat more veggies, for the sake of both her health and her skin, but the FDA recommended four – five cups of fruits and veggies a day is way too much.
Sally uses a juicer to mix up and give new flavors to the fruits and veggies, so that they become more friendly to her tastebuds.
Juicing also significantly reduces the amount of greens she has to eat, and so does it the time. It’s much faster to drink a cup of juice than to eat several cups of raw celery.
It sounds all convenient. But of course there is another side to the coin.
The dangers of juicing: health risks
Just like any other “healthy” activity, juicing can bring harms if you’re not doing it correctly.
Given that you have safe, clean, non GMO materials and a UL-listed, BPA-free juicer, what can really go wrong? What are the risks, and how to avoid them?
Digestion problems due to lack of fiber
As a juicer makes juices, it effectively removes the fibrous part from the fruit or veggie, leaving you with a fresh liquid. The juice, while highly nutritious, has very little fiber in it.
While drinking the juices can provide you with a sufficient amount of nutrients as does eating whole fruits and veggies, you will still need the fiber for digestion of other types of food.
A good way to get the fiber, if you don’t want to eat whole fruits/veggies, is to add some of the pulp back into your juice. You can also make smoothies out of the pulp, or use it in your soups and cooked food to make sure you get enough fiber.Another way is to take supplements. However, see it only as the last resort – whole fruits and veggies should always be the first choice.
Increased blood sugar level
Most people naturally prefer fruit juices over veggie juices – they taste better usually because they’re sweeter. However, the sweet flavor associates with a risk: the juices are is an abundant source of calories. In fact, experts at Nutrition.gov stated that a juice made of mostly fruits can be high in carbohydrates, which is associated with weight gain. Also, since there is little fiber in the juice to slow it down, the sugar goes into your body extremely quickly, causing a spike in your blood sugar level.
Leafy greens, meanwhile, contain much less sugar, making them a lot safer to consume. The thing is not everyone is a big fan of a greenish juice smelling of broccoli. Green juices are not only harder to be made (they require masticating juicers for leaves!), but they’re also more difficult to consume.
A good way to healthy it up if you don’t naturally love veggies is to introduce very little of them into your fruit juice at first, and gradually increase the dose. Different people would have different preferences for the proportion of veggies – fruits in their juice, but a widely accepted “recipe” is to make sure at least 80 percent of the juice comes from veggies.
Those two are the most common risks of juicing, and they are easily avoidable. It boils down to two principles:
- Always keep the amount of sugar in check by drinking more green juices than fruity ones, and
- Unless you’re on a medically supervised juice cleanse or fast, it’s be healthier to make juices only a part of your diet instead of the only part of it.