Thanks to celebrity endorsement, fad diets and detox claims, there has been a huge surge in the number of people juicing their 5+/day.
Juicing is where you extract the liquid from fruits and vegetables and serve it in a drinkable form that often requires an expensive machine to do so. So is it really a healthy way of increasing your fruit and vege intake?
- There are of course benefits from eating more fruits and vegetables every day due to the variety of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are found in these foods.
- Juicing may encourage you to try different fruits or vegetables that you wouldn’t normally eat, hence increasing the variety of beneficial nutrients in your diet.
- Juicing can also be a good way of utilising produce that you may otherwise throw out, leading to less wastage.
- Having a fresh squeezed glass of juice may be preferable to a glass of fizzy, however remember that if you are juicing with multiple pieces of fruit, your glass of juice is likely to have as much sugar in it as a regular fizzy drink.
- When you juice fruits and vegetables you remove an important element, which is the skin of the produce. The skin is often one of the most beneficial parts of the fruit or vegetable, providing important fibre and other nutrients which are then lost in the juicing process.
- If you are juicing multiple fruits at a time, your juice is likely to have a very high sugar content. This sugar is in a very easily digestible form, meaning that you may feel satisfied for a small amount of time but you could still experience a ‘sugar crash’ just as you would after eating or drinking anything else packed with sugar.
- Unless you add alternate ingredients other than fruits and vegetables to your juices, they are going to be very low in protein and or essential fatty acids. Protein is essential for good health and is also filling. Without protein to keep you satiated you could find yourself reaching for your next snack sooner than you would hope, meaning at the end of the day you could be consuming more calories than you intended.
- There are multiple companies offering ‘juice cleanse diets’ or ‘juice detoxes’ and ‘amazing’ weight loss stories through the use of juicing. Whilst you may initially lose weight drinking nothing but juice, this is likely to be short lived and is often a result of losing water weight followed by weight loss just because you are on a very restrictive diet overall. Weight loss will plateau as your body’s metabolism starts to slow down and your body starts to preserve anything it can. Once you start eating normally again you are likely to put all the weight you just lost back on. And some.
- We don’t need to ‘detox’ with juices. We have livers that do this for us, and tend to do a pretty great job I might add.
- Food safety elements may be a concern for some. This is especially true if you are immune suppressed for any reason, such as pregnant women, anyone who has had an organ transplanted and the elderly. All fruits and vegetables must be cleaned and dried thoroughly prior to being juiced to avoid any bugs or bacteria being included in your juice. Juices should then be consumed immediately so they are not sitting around for any length of time.
- I hear of a lot of people who juice to try to ‘cure’ illnesses or diseases. Often these people who are very sick don’t have large appetites. Filling yourself up on juices may give you some essential vitamins and minerals to help fight illness, but there is no evidence that they will cure disease. If you don’t have a large appetite to begin with, it may mean that you miss out on other essential nutrients and calories, such as protein and fat, which are needed for overall health and energy levels because you no longer have the room to eat anything else.
So is it a healthy way to get your fruits and veges? Well, I think if you are already eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet with plenty of whole fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains and getting some exercise, then adding a juice into your day to increase your fruit and vege intake further instead of having something like a biscuit is no problem. It’s when people start to rely on juices as their sole source of nutrition, or add them in without considering their total calorie intake for the day that problems start to arise.
Personally, I would rather occasionally have a smoothie, where I can still add some fruits and vegetables if I like, but I can also use milk, oats, seeds and nuts to ensure I am getting a balance of whole grains, protein and essential fatty acids as well.
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