Juicing is an easy way to almost guarantee you’ll reach your 5-a-day quota of fruits and vegetables. Yet the controversy that surrounds juicing continues to swirl, with the latest research into the dangers of detox diets adding weight to the anti-juice trend.
Yet while using a juice-only detox diet is not recommended, there are many benefits of drinking raw, fresh vegetable juice, especially if you struggle to eat the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Proponents juicing claim there are major benefits of juicing:
1. You can absorb all the nutrients you need from vegetables.
2. You can consume a far greater number of vegetables in a far easier manner.
3. You can add a variety of vegetables to your diet you wouldn’t ordinarily eat (i.e. beetroot, kale).
4. Juice gives you the most nutrient-dense part of the food, in a concentrated form.
The anti-juicing brigade however, also have their list of reasons why juicing isn’t so wonderful, these include:
1. Risk of food-borne illness as all raw food may contain pathogens that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and in severe cases result in E-coli, hepatitis, and even kidney failure.
2. Nutrient loss: once a vegetable or fruit is juiced they almost immediately begin losing precious antioxidants and phytonutrients which can devalue the goodness of the juice.
3. High sugar intake: Juicing removes the fibre from the fruit and veg which means the body can now more easily absorb fructose sugar from fruit juice which can upset blood sugar levels.
4. Overuse of juicing or consuming too much of certain juices can cause severe diarrhoea, which although some claim is the ‘cleansing’ aspect of juicing, can cause other health complications such as dehydration.
Fortunately proper washing and handling of fruit and vegetables before juicing them can rid them of most pathogens and if you consume the juice as soon as you’ve juiced it you should be able to reap all the benefits.
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 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.
According to the American Cancer Society, generally speaking juicing is considered safe as long as its used as part of a healthy diet – and any diet high in vegetables and fruits has been shown to reduce cancer risk and to improve overall health.
However according to the Mayo Clinic, ‘juicing probably is not any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables’. 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 your diet, or if you feel that adding fresh juices to your diet may fill a nutritional gap, then juicing might not be such a bad idea.
Tips for juicing:
1. Make small amounts as fresh squeezed juice quickly loses its nutrients.
2. Keep some of the pulp and add it in before you drink it for some added fibre and volume.
3. Opt for organic fruit and veg wherever possible so it’s free of pesticides.
4. Drink in moderation as juices can contain a lot of sugar depending on how much fruit you use and which vegetables and this all adds up as extra calories which may lead to weight gain.
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Juicing: American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/juicing
The pros and cons of juicing: The Food Republic http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/05/04/pros-and-cons-juicing
Is juicing vegetables healthier than eating them whole? The Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020