Everything you need to know about juicing before you try the new ‘it’ diet.
We need to have a talk. This juicing craze is just that. Crazy. Before you get mad at me and close out my page forever, just hear me out. There is a health halo around juicing that needs to be cleared up, and I’m here to do just that. I want you to make an informed decision before you shell out hundreds of bottled juice programs and expensive juicing machinery. I’m going to talk about fact and fiction when it comes to juicing from the perspective of a dietitian, which means science-backed advice. So here we go.
Juicing will not “detox” your body. You have kidneys and a liver for that. And they are amazingly efficient. Toxic substances that are ingested (like medications and margaritas and wine, sadly) or created as a byproduct of metabolizing different foods are neutralized by your organs and excreted, so there is no reason to “detox” with outside substances. The whole idea of “cleansing” your system is just a marketing tool. If you want to be a little easier on your system, try replacing stimulants like caffeine and alcohol with good old fashioned water, eat a balanced diet and get some sleep.
An all-liquid diet will not make you lose weight. One glass of juice can have anywhere from 4 to 10 servings of fruit in it. That’s can be upwards of 500 calories of straight-up sugar, even if it is the natural kind. Would you eat that many servings of fruit in one sitting? I don’t think so. And without the filling effect of fiber and the satisfaction of actually chewing that you would normally get from eating a piece of fruit, you will be left hungry very quickly. Not to mention the spike in blood sugar that accompanies drinking over 40 grams of sugar in 10 minutes that will leave you irritable, sluggish, and starving. Talk about hangry.
Also, a liquid diet lacking calories will screw with your metabolism, making you burn fewer calories once you return to a normal diet. Because nobody is going to drink only juice forever.
Juice is not “the ultimate health food.” A healthy diet is a balanced diet. Where are the protein and essential fatty acids in juice? Not in your glass, that’s for sure. Not even with the fiber in the pulp you left behind (not to mention some of the vitamins and minerals in the skins). Your body needs amino acids from protein for building and repairing body tissue, immunity, and basically every other body function you can think of. So it’s pretty important. You also need essential fats to produce important hormones, metabolize vitamins A, D, E, and K, build cells and protect your organs. Last, whole grains are important to provide fiber and essential vitamins. Oh yeah, and also to power your brain. Also, protein and fat have a satisfying effect that keeps you full way longer than a glass of liquid sugar.
You do not need to juice to get enough vitamins. If you eat a variety of foods and are eating fruits and vegetables, you are probably getting plenty of vitamins. For example, one red bell pepper has twice the recommended amount of vitamin C (not to mention lots of other good vitamins!). And juice doesn’t have the necessary fats to help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. There is no scientific evidence that megadoses of vitamins have beneficial effects, and some may even have negative effects! (Beware of juicing large quantities of leafy greens if you are anti-coagulant medications, as extreme amounts can cause you to bruise and bleed more easily if you are on one of these medications.) My point: you can get plenty of the nutrients you need by eating a balanced diet, and without having to juice $100 worth of produce a day.
The bottom line: Juicing can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, but it is not a sustainable replacement for food or a solution for weight loss. It is lacking in many important components of a healthy diet and could be doing more harm than good long term. Not to mention the cost of large quantities of produce, expensive machines, or costly bottled juices. It’s better as a treat every once in a while. If you must blend, stick to smoothies with milk or yogurt and drink your juice alongside your eggs and toast.