A lot of people I have seen have spent many hundreds or even thousands of dollars on juicers – which turn a lot of vegetables and fruit into a fairly small amount of highly concentrated nutrients. Juicing proponents say it’s the best way to get a lot of nutrients in a meal, to help all sorts of health issues, especially for cancer (where I see people recommending juicing the most).
But is juicing really as good as people think it is?
I’ve been saying for ages that it is NOT the best idea...
There are a couple of issues with juicing, as many cheaper juicers rip open the fruit or vegetables with fast and sharp grating mechanisms. This can damage the nutrients, partly from the grating, and also from the heat this produces. More expensive juicers use cold pressure mechanisms which do not damage the nutrients as much.
Juicers remove most of the fibre in the fruit or vegetables. Juicing proponents say this is a good thing, as fibre fills you up, and you can’t get as much of the nutrients into you if you leave the fibre in. While that is true, you NEED the fibre for many benefits – to form bowel motions properly, to feed your digestive bacteria (who turn it into other essential nutrients which you need!), and it’s your digestive bacteria which make most of your immune system proteins and neurotransmitters too. Your digestive bacteria are critical for those with cancer or any chronic health condition.
Lastly, the fibre in the fruit and vegetables prevents a large amount of fructose (a sugar found in fruit and vegetables) being absorbed into the body. Fructose in small amounts can be ok and will be converted into glucose in the body to feed your cells for energy and growth. Fructose in high amounts, such as in juices, gets mostly converted by the liver into fat for storage. This is not what you want if you have cancer, diabetes or weight issues.
People who do have cancer, diabetes or weight issues should actually restrict their intake of high-fructose food sources, including juices, because of the risk of progressing the disease or health issues further.
So what should you do instead? Use a blender!
Blenders are cheap, effective in keeping all the fibre in (and thus filling you up more, and providing all the benefits without the risks of high fructose), and keeping all the nutrients in too!
A new study published just released a few days ago (9th Oct 2017, in the “Nutrition and Diabetes Journal”) confirms the above. The study compared the GI (Glycaemic Index, or glucose forming effect in your body) of whole fruit compared to blended fruit, with a control group drinking glucose in water (similar to a juiced drink without fibre). It confirmed that commercial fruit juices are associated with an increased risk of diabetes, because of the higher GI effect. However eating whole fruit actually reduced the risk of diabetes. The study also found that blending fruit caused a much lower post-meal blood sugar response than even eating whole fruit! Those who drank the glucose drink, similar to a juice, had the highest blood sugar response. Those who had whole fruit had a lower blood glucose (because of the fibre), and those who had the blended fruit and a lower blood glucose response again, which they didn’t investigate the mechanism for. The study also concluded that increased fruit intake can result in a reduced risk of chronic disease, but as I mentioned above, in some situations, less is better!
In summary, having a high concentration of nutrients in a meal is a great idea for general health as well as for preventing or reducing chronic health issues. But juicing is NOT the way to do it – use a blender instead to keep in the fibre, and get additional benefits of this without the health issues of too much fructose!
In addition, any blended meal such as a smoothie should contain some protein and healthy fats too for additional nutrients, for filling you up more, and providing a longer lasting energy. Fruit or veg blends alone will not provide a long-lasting energy and will quickly cause hunger and cravings for more carbohydrates.