It’s 3 am, sleep is just outside of your grasp and you’re stuck watching Jack Lalanne infomercials, plotting as to whether or not to buy the juicer. “I’ll get more fruits and veggies in my diet,” you think , “but how often will I use it?” “Do I have space for it?” And most importantly: “will people think I’m weird because I am buy stuff off TV at 3 am?” Juicing has become a much more popular word recently, many people are doing it as a way to get more fruits and veggies into their system–but is it all beneficial?
Juicing does make it easier to drink down fruits and vegetables. An entire orange can probably be juiced down into a 4 tablespoons of juice, that’s much easier than peeling and eating an orange. The same goes for greens, which require more preparation in the kitchen and a larger quantity on your plate. In terms of vegetables like kale, spinach, and other greens, I can see how this would be a huge benefit to someone with little time and a great need for nutrients–that sounds like all of us, doesn’t it? Some nutritionist also say that the nutrients found in juice are more accessible to the body, therefore absorbing more quickly and efficiently.
There are definitely some benefits, but also some negative aspects of juicing. When a fruit or vegetable is juiced it looses it’s fiber, an extremely important element of digestion. Our modern diet does not provide enough fiber, media and advertisement make that well known with the ploys “a great source of fiber!” and “Added fiber!” There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps with the health of your digestive system and allows it to work properly. Soluble fiber is dissolved in water and can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Without fiber in our diet the digestive system doesn’t work well at all, eating fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables is the only way to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of fiber to improve digestive health. Yes whole wheat bread and legumes provide fiber, but they also provide toxins and health problems–you decide.
Another downfall of juicing is the high level of fructose found in juice, fructose is the sugar found in fruits and vegetables. Just like any sugar, fructose raises blood glucose levels and if they get too high on a consistent basis it causes inflammation. It takes about 3 medium oranges to make one small glass of juice, that is about 36 grams of fructose, in one orange there are only about 12 grams of fructose. Without fiber to help regulate the digestion and absorption of this fructose it hits the blood stream much more quickly, therefore requiring a much stronger insulin response. Remember, our goal is to keep our insulin nice and steady, no severe spikes or drops.
In conclusion, there are definitely benefits to juicing, especially if that is the only way you are going to get the nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, too much juice is going to lead to too much fructose and not enough fiber, which will lead to too much sugar in the blood and spikes in insulin on a regular basis. I would suggest that if you are going to use juicing as a way to get your nutrients, you should stick to the vegetable and berry juices, as they will be lower in fructose. Also make sure you are getting enough fiber throughout the rest of your day by means of leafy greens and other vegetables all the colors of the rainbow. Use juicing as a supplementation to real food, not in place of!
Another liquidy way to get veggies and fruits and also get the fiber is through a smoothie. I haven’t ever put a green in a smoothie, but I know many people who have and I am going to start! Make sure you include protein in or alongside your smoothies and juices, as protein with every meal and snack will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satiated and happier longer.