It’s been a commonly shared belief that juice is the key to a long and healthy life. Who wouldn’t believe that a mega dose of vitamins and minerals in one glass is a miracle worker? Many, with the industry reaching $154 billion in 2016. But the truth is that stripping these fruits down to a liquid-y mix could be taking away these essential nutrients, leaving a super sugary sweet mixture that may be more difficult for your organs to process.
Is juicing all it’s cracked up to be? Here, we will take a look at what’s really inside those super doses of juices, revealing the truth of whether you should adopt it as a friend or foe.
Full of Fructose
This is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, all fruits and veggies are naturally filled with this complex sugar. Tests have revealed that there are no long-term effects on overall health so long as they are not overconsumed and part of an overage of caloric intake. Thanks to the fiber-containing elements found in fruits and veggies, this sugar is so complex that it takes substantial energy to break down and finally enter into the bloodstream. This, however, is only the case with whole fruits, not with the juicy goodness of a refreshing juice.
With the loss of fiber comes some severe issues that have doctors and dieticians concerned. That is because taking the power of fiber out of these nutritious earth-grown goodies allows the fructose to absorb quickly. This, in turn, causes a quick hike to the amount of sugar in the blood that causes the pancreas to release insulin. The body does this as a natural reaction to bring sugar levels back to normal range. As you probably already know, these spikes in insulin have associations with Type 2 diabetes, a disease that can have drastic effects on the body’s ability to digest food properly overtime.
Studies across the board have shown these associations and discovered a link between fruit juice and type 2 diabetes. Why? Well, as the juice makes its way through the stomach and enters into the intestines, there isn’t any substance to go along with it. Taking away the very element that aids in the digestion of fruits and vegetables allows the intestines to absorb larger than normal amounts of sugar. A diet high in fiber has been shown to have numerous benefits, including a reduction of serious diseases, making the loss during juicing just not worth the risk.
Another unforeseen con of the apparent liquid miracle is the ease of ingesting excess calories. It is normal, especially with the typical American diet, to intake way more than needed in a day when it comes to calories. Adding in fruit juices without keeping a close watch on what you’re digesting could have a hoard of adverse effects. Large amounts of juice, along with filling foods, could cause an overload of that fructose, which we mentioned above.
On the bright side, with proper caloric intake and 1-2 servings of fruit juice, there were some benefits. The body was shown to take in more of the vitamins and minerals the body begged for and saw less or smaller spikes in insulin and blood sugar. This analysis was run by John Sievenpiper, associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. “…if you’re going to use juice as a complement to fruits and vegetables, that’s fine – however, not if you’re using juice for hydration and drinking large amounts,” The point, limit your intake and be careful with other calories. So that juice fasts you were thinking about – trash it.
There’s a Loophole
On the bright side, those who enjoy a glass or two full of nutrients could get all the benefits if they only change one thing. What’s that, you may ask? Well, it is to skip the juicer and go for a blender or extractor. In an analysis of the composition of a drink made with a juicer vs. an extractor, more nutrients were found in the latter. The blended version might mash up the fruit into an unrecognizable mush but, within that liquid pulp remains some of the most nutritious parts of the fruits and veggies like skin, seeds, and most importantly, the fiber.
There is not enough evidence to say precisely the reasons why this is the case, but, researchers have confidently put their bets on blended juices. They did see, and overall lower occurrence of those dangerous sugar rushes and, therefore, less of a need for the body to rapidly produce insulin in response. Still, the one area that all scientists and dieticians can agree on is to make sure and limit intake. There seems to be a common middle ground for those that are involved in the study of the liquid miracle of juice, and that is one glass (150ml) a day is ok.
Friend or Foe
Well, the answer to this depends. Each fruit and vegetable have their unique composition and are therefore received by your body’s digestive system differently. A small example is an ever-powerful orange, which contains most of its beneficial compounds within the peel. This part is completely lost when juicing, so it might take a better fruit to eat in its whole natural form. Some fruits are great for juices like grapes, where the nutrients are found mostly in the seeds.
Whether it is your friend or foe is best discussed with a medical professional or dietician. This is not a ‘diet’ that should be practiced without a bit of supervision, especially if you are overweight or with underlying health conditions. The market may have you fooled, running ads with several people boasting their success stories proudly, but every person is different. Make sure you are juicing healthily by being more aware and doing what is best for you and your body. Happy eating!