To juice or not to juice
The juicing trend isn’t new and neither is the controversy surrounding it. But do the pros outweigh the cons?
Juicing is an easy way to ensure you get your daily quota of fruits and vegetables. Yet the controversy that surrounds juicing continues to swirl, with the latest research adding weight to the anti-juice trend.
Research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology in 2014 indicates that the high sugar content of fruit juice most probably makes it as dangerous in terms of obesity, heart disease and diabetes as sugar-sweetened cool drinks.
Yet there seems to be other benefits to drinking raw, fresh vegetable juice, especially if you struggle to consume the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Proponents of juicing claim the following:
- Juicing allows you to easily consume a far greater number of fruits and vegetables.
- Juicing gives you the most nutrient-dense part of the food in a convenient form.
The anti-juicing brigade, however, also has their list of reasons why juicing isn’t a good idea. These include:
- High sugar intake: juicing breaks down the fibre from the fruit and veg, which means the body can more easily absorb fructose (fruit sugar) from the juice. This is bad news in terms of weight management, the balancing of your blood-sugar levels and your diabetes risk.
- Nutrient loss: once a vegetable or fruit is juiced, it almost immediately begins losing precious vitamins and antioxidants, which can reduce the goodness of the fruit or vegetable.
Too much juice, or consuming too much of certain juices can cause diarrhoea. While some claim this is the “cleansing” aspect of juicing, your enthusiasm may lead to a loss of water and important electrolytes. You therefore risk dehydration.
So, the question remains – should you juice or not?
The answer is… yes and no. Yes, if it’s to fill a nutritional deficiency in your diet or just because you enjoy juicing. But the answer is no if juicing is something you plan to use long-term to “detox” your body, or as part of a fad diet to help you lose weight. It’s also a no if you replace water in your diet with fruit juice, as this could lead to weight problems and other associated health risks.
According to the American Cancer Society, juicing is generally considered safe as long as it’s used as
part of a healthy diet – and any diet high in vegetables and fruits has been shown to reduce cancer and heart disease risk, and to improve overall health.
But "juicing probably isn’t any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables," according to the Mayo Clinic. They add that there is no "sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself".
Although they do concede that if you enjoy juicing your fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, or if you feel that adding fresh juices to your diet may fill a nutritional gap, juicing might not be such a bad idea.
A few last tips for juicing:
- Make small amounts as fresh, squeezed juice quickly loses its nutrients.
- Keep some of the pulp and add it before you drink the juice for some added fibre and volume.
- Opt for organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible to avoid pesticides.
- Drink in moderation as juices can contain a lot of sugar. This will, however, depend on how many fruits you use and which vegetables you add. Remember that this all adds up as extra kilojoules.
- If you liquidise the fruit and/or vegetable in a blender, you automatically retain all the pulp and fibre.