There are a lot of health claims made for juicing, and a lot of hype. In this article we’re going to look at what The Mayo Clinic and MebMD have to say on the subject. Can you really believe the marketing hype about juicing for weight loss and health?
The benefits of juicing.
- If you’re not keen on eating fruit and vegetables, then making a tasty cocktail to drink is a great way to get more healthy stuff into your diet.
- Juicing is quick and easy to do.
- The combinations of ingredients are almost endless – and it’s fun to experiment.
- Combining different fruits and vegetables gives you a lot of the vitamins and minerals you need.
- They’re great for getting kids to eat their fruit and vegetable (without them realizing).
Down sides of juicing.
- Be careful of the sugars in fruits. Fruits are loaded with sugar (fructose), which is just as calorific as the sugar we put in our tea and coffee. This can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Juicing vegetables is lighter on the calories.
- By juicing fruit and vegetables you lose most of the fibre of the whole fruit. Fruit and vegetable fibre is important in our diet as it is the type of fibre that helps to lower cholesterol. It also helps us feel fuller for longer. You can add the pulp that’s left behind after juicing (that’s the fibre) to soups, bake in muffins or to rice/pasta.
- The other type of fibre in fruit and vegetables is the type that helps our bowels work well. A juice-only diet can lead to constipation as well as high blood sugar.
- You can’t bulk-juice and set cartons aside for later in the week. It’s best to make and drink the juice on the same day. Harmful bacteria build up in juices unless they are professionally pasturised. In addition, a lot of the vitamins and minerals with deteriorate over time so you lose the goodness.
- Juicers can be expensive and fiddly to wash (see below).
Are the health claims for juicing actually true?
Detoxing with juices.
There are no scientific papers backing the idea that you can detox the body with a juice-only diet. We all have livers and kidneys that detoxify the chemicals we eat and drink and these do the job far better than any juice.
A juice-only diet will probably leave you feeling hungry (because most of the filling fibre has been removed – see above). That can lead to over eating less healthy foods such as cookies and cakes because you’ve restricted your diet too severely.
You can put some of the pulp back into the juice after you’ve made it, and just add a little water if it’s too thick.
By reducing the amount of red meat, alcohol and dairy product we consume and increasing the fresh fruit and vegetables we will feel healthier.
Weightloss with juicing.
A juice-only diet is likely to cause weight loss. However it’s unlikely that the effect will last when you go back to eating normally.
While juices give us a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals we need, they don’t give us any protein and this can lead to muscle loss. Muscles use energy (ie they burn calories for us) so if you lose muscle mass, this can lead to greater weight gain when you return to normal eating.
To add protein to a juice, add yoghurt, almond milk, flaxseed oil or peanut butter.
Lower risk of cancer and heart disease with juicing.
There is a lot of research that shows a diet that’s high in fruit and vegetables is healthier than one without. However these fruit and vegetable-based diets are healthier whether the food is juiced or eaten whole – so juicing is not the key here.
Scientists have shown that people who have this sort of healthy diet (often referred to as the Mediterranean Diet) have lower incidences of heart disease and cancers.
There is also scientific evidence that fruit and vegetables may have a beneficial effect on the immune system, which means they body is better able to fight infection and cancer cells.
Speak to your doctor if you want to drink a lot of fruit or vegetable juices.
People taking warfarin anti-coagulant need to be careful when juicing foods with high amounts of vitamin K (often dark green leafy veg).
Do I need a juicer?
Juicers can be expensive, especially if you feel that an interest in juicing may be a passing phase.
Some kitchen mixer brands (eg Kenwood, Kitchen Aid) make juicing attachments for their appliances. This may be more economical than buying a dedicated juicing device, and will probably take up less kitchen cupboard space.
A food blender can do the job and leave the fruit fibre in the end product. This will make you feel fuller for longer and give you the cholesterol-lowering fibre and constipation-preventing fibre the body needs. Just remove some skins, pips, stones and cores, and add milk or water if it’s too thick.
Blending vegetables to get a smooth result can be more difficult however, and a juicer may be preferable if you’re going to make more vegetable-based drinks.
Powerful blenders that give smoother smoothie, such as the MagicBullet, are expensive but very useful if this is going to be a permanent diet change.
To juice or not to juice?
In conclusion, whether you juice your fruit and vegetables or not, it doesn’t matter.
Juicing doesn’t let the body absorb the vitamins and minerals more easily or make these foods healthier or better for you: there’s no credible science to back up these claims.
Just eat – or drink – your vegetables because they’re good for you.
Juicing can be a fun way to get more of these foods into the diet, which is no bad thing. Just be careful about your sugar intake from drinking a lot of fruit juices.
Juicing should be used as part of a healthy diet, not instead of it.