Is Juicing Helpful or Harmful?
We all know that many fruits and vegetables are good for us, right? The body needs nutrition from these plants in order to function as it was designed to. With this idea in mind, somewhere along the line, a process called “juicing” came into play as a way to get the nutrients from fruits and vegetables. This process extracts all the juices from those nutritious fruits and vegetables. You might be wondering why someone would juice celery instead of just eating it. Juicing seems like a lot more work, right? I mean, can it make celery taste better? Not so sure about that! So, what is the difference between eating these foods and juicing them? One common belief is that the body can receive more nutrients through juicing. Another popular method of juicing is detoxing the body through “juice fasting.” You might be wondering how juicing works and what the potential benefits are. We will explore the various aspects of juicing: helpful or harmful?
Let’s start off this discussion with a little more about juicing. There are two main ways to juice: 1. Cold-press juicers – the fruits and vegetables are slowly crushed and pressed to obtain as much of the juice as possible, 2. Centrifugal juicers – a high-spinning action grinds the fruits and vegetables into a pulp. These processes take the fresh vegetables and fruits and extracts the juices from them. The seeds, pulp, skin, etc. are all removed. What’s leftover is mostly vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are naturally found in the fruit or vegetable, but in juice form. Juicing is most commonly used for two main reasons:
- To supplement the diet – adding juicing can increase the nutrients from these fruits and vegetables that you might not normally eat.
- To detox or cleanse the body – often this is done for 3 to 7 days and is meant to remove all solids from the diet, allowing the body to cleanse itself of toxins.
We know that fruits and vegetables provide the body with many benefits; that’s a no-brainer. The amount of nutrition that comes from them is something that’s hard to find anywhere else. Being whole foods, especially if you purchase organic (which we always recommend), your body can put all those nutrients to use easily! Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information that supports the idea that the juice is better. One thing to remember is that most of the fiber (upwards of 90 percent) that comes from fruits and vegetables is lost once juiced. If you’re unfamiliar with fiber, know ONE thing: it is an incredibly important part of the diet. Dietary fiber aids in digestion by supporting the health of the gut. An interesting note, many of the antioxidants found in these foods bind themselves to the fiber. Guess what that means? Once the fiber is gone, so are the antioxidants! To answer the question “juicing: helpful or harmful?” consider the following: while juicing may make getting some nutrients easier for you, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go about it. If you find that you struggle getting fruits and vegetables, juicing may be something to try. Just recognize that you will need to make sure your body is still getting enough fiber and antioxidants to perform optimally.
benefits of greens
The term “green” can be a bit confusing when it comes to the idea of juicing. You may have heard of “super green juice” and thought about how healthy that must be! Be careful of this, as most recipes use a lot of fruit to mask the green vegetable (spinach, kale, broccoli) flavors. You may have noticed green juices at restaurants. Some even specialize in it, calling themselves “juice bars,” and serve only what we believe are highly nutritious juices. In looking at nutrition information, many of them contain anywhere from 15 to 50 grams of sugar in just one serving! Yes, you read that right… upwards of 50 grams of sugar in JUICE?! Therefore, it’s so important to be aware of what is in these juices. If you find a recipe or juice bar product (note: this is hard to find) that is completely green vegetables, it’s likely you will not like it. It tastes awful and looks like algae!
How do “greens” (a common powder supplement) and juicing compare? Greens focus on vegetable nutrient intake. This supplement is in powder form and is designed to mix with water or other liquids (shakes, smoothies, etc.) to boost your consumption of vegetables. They usually contain dehydrated leafy greens that are ground up into powdered form. Some brands contain seaweed (spirulina), probiotics, and digestive enzymes. We suggest being conscious of the ingredients, as some brands will also include various sugar substitutes to aid in flavor. Also, watch the content of what you’re adding it to. Anything more than water (protein powder, etc.) will change your macronutrient counts for the day. One big advantage of greens powders is that they usually contain polyphenols and specific compounds of plants that contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions. These components suggest that greens powders can improve energy, help prevent chronic disease, and aid in balancing the pH level of the body. Greens powder supplements will help you add nutrients from vegetables to your diet. We usually say that having a clean, whole foods diet is best, but if you struggle with vegetable intake, we do believe that a clean (free of artificial ingredients) version of this supplement is a good addition to your diet.
watch for sugar
As mentioned above, high amounts of sugar can be found in many juicing recipes and products sold today. For reference, the recommended amount of sugar per day by the American Heart Association is only 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. When you look at the examples above, you can see that some of the juicing options available today are double or even quadruple the recommended daily amounts. If you find your own recipes, remember that including fruit in the ingredients will contain sugar. Fruit sugar isn’t necessarily “bad” for you in the same way processed sugars are, but it can become a problem if you’re consuming too much on a regular basis.
You will want to be mindful of the effects that sugar has on the body. The amount of sugar in many of these juices will cause blood sugars to increase… which then means they crash at some point = NOT GOOD. Often, sugar consumption results in inflammation throughout the body, so be careful of that, too. If you are on a keto diet, you will be looking to avoid sugar, so juicing, (unless it’s 100% veggies) is not the best choice for you. If you have a sugar addiction (which many of us do), avoiding any extra sugar in the diet is highly recommended. Sugar is known to induce cravings and can lead to overeating. When looking at juicing: helping or harmful, it is harmful for those consuming this much sugar regularly.
We have already mentioned that one of the popular reasons that people juice is for detoxing the body. If you aren’t familiar with detoxing, essentially it is the process of removing what the body doesn’t need. Juicing fasts are thought to provide nutrients to the body while still allowing the digestive system to take a break from solid foods. There are ways to naturally detox without juice fasting. Hydration, nutrition, and exercise all play roles in naturally detoxing the body.
Drink plenty of water, as the toxins that breakdown in your body are flushed out by water. Keep in mind that hydration is about the balance of fluid between the inside and the outside of the cells of the body. This balance requires electrolytes. We recommend supplementing electrolytes, as most people don’t get enough in their diet. The perfect choice for an electrolyte supplement is Hydrate. It is created to replenish, recover and restore the body.
We mentioned nutrition as a component in naturally detoxing. The body has natural detoxification processes; we just need to give it the right tools to do the job. Consuming mostly fresh, whole and clean foods, free of any artificial ingredients, will aid the body in digestion and improve gut health. With proper nutrition, the body can detox itself!
Lastly, we mentioned exercise as a natural detox tool. This doesn’t have to be intense, but some sort of physical movement each day is so beneficial. Running, walking, swimming, etc. are all great examples of physical activity. Moving the body creates opportunities for the body to stretch, breath, sweat and increase circulation. There are so many things that happen when the body is in motion, including eliminating things your body doesn’t need… which as we said, is exactly what detoxing is!
So, what’s the difference between juice fasting and intermittent fasting? If you’re not familiar with fasting, it is any extended period without eating (usually hours or days). Juice fasting is usually done over a certain number of days, as mentioned already, 3-7 days is common. Intermittent fasting is cycling through periods of eating and not eating. For many, this is done for a certain number of hours per day. Let’s investigate intermittent fasting in a little more detail next.
There are many health benefits of intermittent fasting (beyond just detoxing the body): weight loss, increased metabolic rate, lowered insulin levels, increased growth hormone levels (HGH) (which has benefits of gaining muscle and increasing fat loss), lowered chronic Inflammation, improved heart health, improved focus and brain health, anti-aging properties, protection against Type 2 diabetes, improved fitness and enhanced fat burning. A common way to intermittently fast is to set up an eating window. For example, eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours is our favorite intermittent fasting schedule. Part of that 16 hours is done while we sleep! The idea is that a smaller eating window will remove excess calorie intake. People aren’t generally eating as much in 8 hours as they do in 10 or 12 hours. With this fasting method, the body has two-thirds of the day to rest from digestion, repair, restore and detox every day. You’ve likely been told not to eat too close to bedtime otherwise your body will spend all night digesting. For this reason, putting an “end time” (closing the eating window) to your meals is an advantage. Many people note that they feel better than ever with this type of intermittent fasting.
It is recommended that juice fasting only be done a certain number of times per month, and this depends on the length of the cleanse done. This means that if the method of choice allows for juice detoxing twice a month, you get the benefits twice a month. On the other hand, intermittent fasting can be done regularly (daily). Which, of course, means you can get the benefits every day! With that being said, fasting is not for everyone, and if you have any medical concerns, please make sure you talk this over with your doctor.
It is evident that the body needs nutrition from plants such as fruits and vegetables to function properly. We’ve all heard that we need some level of them every day… “eat your veggies,” right? The nutrients we get, especially from green leafy veggies, play such a huge role in our overall health. Through examining juicing: helpful or harmful, we found that it can be a good source of nutrition for those struggling to eat enough fruits and veggies. In exploring “juice fasting” in relationship with detoxing the body, we discovered there are other options available to you. If you decide to try out juicing, just remember to be aware of added sugars and artificial ingredients (especially in the premade juices)! Greens powder supplements are a good option for adding vegetable nutrients without adding fruit sugars, so you might like to give them a whirl!