There always seems to be a new diet trend disguised as a fit and healthy way to lose weight, but any educated consumer assumes they can easily tell the difference between a gimmick, a fad, and a healthy lunch. However, one of the latest, supposedly revolutionary, trends has participants finally asking questions regarding its validity as a meal supplement. Although juicing fruits and vegetables is without a doubt a potentially organic whole food experience, the juice in the glass may not be all its reputation promises it to be.
For starters, there are undeniable benefits to the fitness trend. According to juicing experts, new research reveals consuming up to seven servings of differently colored fruits and veggies per day can have great influence on life’s longevity. For those on the go who do not have the time to prepare at least two servings with every meal, juicing the required amount could be a great way to meet the suggested minimum. Also, for people who do not like to eat raw fruits and vegetables, juicing gives them a way of feeling like they are joining the team and benefiting their bodies, says Gayl Canfield, director of nutrition for Pritkin Longevity Center. According to Canfield, juicing provides the consumer with all the same minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients as eating them whole, and the additional water content will help with hydration.
Another benefit of juicing is that it can help eliminate food waste, as any fruits or vegetables that are considered “on the edge” can easily be tossed into the juicer. There is something satisfying about using scraps of greens and sweetening them up with a few ripe fruits. It is also automatically implied that every juicer deserves bragging rights. It takes a committed individual to devote so much time and focus to their optimal health.
But, here is the “but.” Bragging rights only last for so long. No one can expect to juice for an extended period of time and stay healthy, and it should have never been suggested that an all-juice diet be called “healthy.” A healthy, daily diet should be balanced in order to reap benefits for overall metabolic health. A balanced diet includes proteins, dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fats. Not all of which are juicer-friendly. Imagine juicing a salmon steak or a flaxseed muffin. Some elements of a healthy, balanced diet will simply not comply within the juicing regiment. There are many juicers who intend to have a more balanced meal, and they fortify their juice by adding protein. A few good alternatives are peanut butter, flaxseed, Greek yogurt, or almond milk, but it most be noted that the protein percentages in a single serving of these alternatives do not meet the daily requirements.
In addition, juicing fruits and vegetables is a process akin to mechanical pulverization, says Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical dietetics and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic. The process of pulverization separates the skin, the fiber, from the juices. Fiber is necessary for regulating blood sugar after consuming a whole piece of fruit. Nelson says, without the fiber, the sugars in the juice become unwieldy free agents; there is nothing to keep them in check.
Canfield seconds the importance of fiber in the diet, stating that fiber helps lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood glucose levels and gastrointestinal functioning, and has an overall invaluable satiety value. However, many juicing aficionados reserve the pulp and use it in cooking or baking recipes, or simply toss the pulpy fiber into the glass of juice and chew. Also, if “juicing” in a blender, the pulp and fiber stay with the juice unless it is strained and therefore can be more aptly consumed.
For those who are indignant about going on a juice cleanse, registered dietician Deborah Levy smartly encourages the cleanse be kept to no longer than three days. “There is nothing in the medical literature to affirm that the body needs an outside source to cleanse itself,” she says. Many people are convinced they need to detox, but there is no substantiated evidence that proves the organs, especially the liver and kidneys, are not equipt with everything the body needs to rid of toxins on its own. Bodies work hard to eliminate these entities with or without outside effort.
Others still contest that juicing is a healthy way to diet and a quick and safe way to lose a few pounds in a pinch. This may be so, but there are a few key notes to take into consideration before indulging in the “quick fix.” Juicing may be a lower caloric meal relatively, but it is nowhere near what may be considered a low-calorie meal. Any juice is highly concentrated in calories. A cup of chopped fruit will be fewer calories by a long shot than an eight ounce glass of pressed juice. According to Canfield, an eight ounce glass of orange juice may contain the juice from as many as four oranges. “Would a person actually sit down and eat four oranges in one sitting?” she asks. “But you can down that glass of orange juice in fewer than 5 minutes.”
In theory, because the fruit is more concentrated when in juice form, so is the sugar. The ever-growing, more and more popular pomegranate juice has 37 grams of sugar to a cup, but there are only 12 grams per cup of whole pomegranate.
As a proliferation of testimonials overshadow the truths behind juicing, it is important to remember that although liquefying whole foods may facilitate weight loss in the short term, it can do great metabolic damage. Nelson has taken the care to enlighten readers that lean muscle mass begins to break down after only a few days, which results in the body’s inability to burn calories at a higher rate. Only consuming liquids also leaves the dieter feeling less fulfilled and satisfied, usually resulting in the consumption of more food than one would normally eat if they chewed their food in the first place. “Very few people will ever voluntarily consume a liquid diet for life,” Nelson says, and when the juicing phase has ended and solid foods are re-introduced, the weight always creeps back on.
Opinion by Stacy Feder