The fruits and vegetables are good for your body. Some of them even help fight chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Interestingly, a method called ” juicing ” has become increasingly popular in recent years. This involves extracting the nutritious juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Many people do this in order to “detox” or add more nutrients to their diets. Supporters claim that juicing can improve nutrient absorption, while others say it removes important nutrients like fiber.
What is Juicing?
Juicing is the term that refers to a process through which the juices are extracted from fresh fruits and vegetables. This generally removes most of the solid matter, including the seeds and pulp, from whole fruits and vegetables.
The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants naturally present in whole fruit or vegetables. The juicing is generally used for two different purposes:
- For cleansing or detoxification: Only juices are consumed as a way to cleanse the body of toxins. It can be a process lasting 3 days to several weeks.
- To supplement a normal diet: Fresh juice can be used as a supplement to the daily diet, increasing the nutrient intake of fruits and vegetables that would not be consumed otherwise.
Juicing is an easy way to get nutrients
Many people do not get enough nutrients from their diet alone. The nutrient levels in the food we eat are also much lower than they used to be. This is largely due to processing methods and the long time it takes for produce from the field to reach the supermarket.
Polluted environments and high levels of stress can also increase our requirements for certain nutrients. The fruits and seasonal vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds that can protect against the disease.
If you find it difficult to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day, juicing can be a convenient way to increase your intake.
Whole fruits and vegetables protect against disease, but more studies on juices are needed
One study found that supplementation of mixed fruit and vegetable juice over the course of 14 weeks improved participants’ nutrient levels for beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and folic acid. A review of 22 studies found that drinking juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables improved folate and antioxidant levels, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
One review reported that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables may be due to antioxidants, rather than fiber. If this is true, then the juice can provide health benefits comparable to whole products. However, there is only weak evidence that pure fruit and vegetable juices can help fight cancer. There is a lack of human data and other findings are inconsistent.
However, other areas of health show more promise. For example, juices can reduce the risk of heart disease. Apple and pomegranate juices have been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, consuming fruit and vegetable juices in liquid form or in mixed strengths can lower homocysteine levels and markers of oxidative stress, which are associated with better heart health.
One large study found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was reduced among those who drank fruit and vegetable juices three or more times per week, compared to those who drank juices less than once per week. The reduction in Alzheimer’s risk may be due to the high levels of polyphenols in juices.
These are the antioxidants found in plant foods, which are believed to protect brain cells. Despite these results, more studies are needed to better understand the health effects of fruit and vegetable juices.
Fruits and vegetables are best eaten whole
The proponents of juicing often claim that drinking juice is better than eating whole fruits and vegetables. This is because the removal of fiber makes the nutrients easier to absorb. However, there is no scientific research to support this. You may actually need the fiber content of the fruit or vegetable to experience the full health benefits of the plant.
For example, important antioxidants that naturally bind to plant fibers are lost in the juice production process. These can play an important role in the health benefits of whole fruits and vegetables.
In fact, up to 90% of the fiber is removed during the juice production process, depending on the extraction machine. Some soluble fiber will remain, but most of the insoluble fiber is removed.
High fiber intakes have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that increasing soluble fiber, in particular, can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
One study compared whole apples to apple juice. Drinking clear apple juice was found to increase LDL cholesterol levels by 6.9%, compared to whole apples. This effect is believed to be due to the fiber content of whole apples.
An observational study showed an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who consumed fruit juices, while whole fruits were linked to a reduced risk. People also tend to feel fuller when they eat whole fruits, compared to when they drink the equivalent juice.
The level of fiber in your juices will depend on what type of juicer you use, but some sources suggest adding the leftover pulp to other foods or beverages to increase your fiber intake.
Although this is better than throwing the fiber away, the evidence suggests that re-adding fiber to juice does not give you the same health benefits as simply eating fruits.
Additionally, one study found that adding natural levels of fiber to juice did not improve the feeling of fullness.
Juicing for weight loss can be a bad idea
Many people use juicing as a way to lose weight. Most juice “diets” involve consuming about 600-1,000 calories per day from juice alone, resulting in a severe caloric deficit and rapid weight loss.
However, this is very difficult to maintain in the long term. While juice diets can help you lose weight in the short term, such a severe calorie restriction can slow down your metabolism in the long term.
This is also likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long run, as juices lack many important nutrients.
Juices should not replace meals
Using juices as a meal replacement can be bad for your body. This is because juice by itself is not nutritionally balanced, as it does not contain enough protein or fat. Consuming enough protein throughout the day is necessary for long-term health and muscle maintenance.
Additionally, healthy fats are important for maintaining sustained energy levels, hormonal balance, and cell membranes. They can also provide fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
However, replacing one meal a day with juice is unlikely to cause harm, as long as the rest of your diet is more balanced.
You can make your juice more balanced by adding protein and good fats. Some good sources are whey protein, almond milk, avocados, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter.
Juicing detox is not necessary and can be harmful
Consuming 100% fruit juice has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, liver damage, and obesity. Also, there is no evidence that your body needs to be detoxified by eliminating solid foods. Your body is designed to eliminate toxins on its own, using the liver and kidneys.
Also, if you are juicing non-organic vegetables, you may end up consuming other toxins that come along with them, such as pesticides. For people with kidney problems, heavy consumption of oxalate-rich juices has been linked to kidney failure.
More extreme juicing detoxes are associated with negative side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. If you take prescription drugs, you need to be aware of possible drug-nutrient interactions.
For example, large amounts of vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach can interfere with blood thinners.