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While juicing may still be all the rage in some circles, I can’t find it in my heart to fully get behind it as a well-person’s go-to health fix.
Here are some reasons why:
A Healthy Diet is Enough
Seriously, if you are active, eating well and are at a healthy weight, and don’t have any other health complaints, … your body should be telling you it’s doing very well, thank you. The theory behind juicing is that it delivers a ton of nutrients faster and more efficiently than food. Honestly, our bodies can only use so many of vitamins, minerals, etc. In fact, there are even safety limits on some.
If you have a health complaint, that could be a sign of your body is not operating at full capacity and might benefit from a nutritional “jump.” Otherwise, our diet is sufficient and health is a sign that our cells are operating just as they are designed to. Our bodies have a wisdom of tens of thousands of years to draw from on what it needs and doesn’t.
Juice Is Basically Pure Sugar
You may be surprised to learn that fruit juices can be just as bad for you in high quantities as regular sodas. In one fluid ounce of apple juice, for example, there are 3.5 grams of carbohydrates, while a regular soft drink contains about 2.9 grams per fluid ounce. That’s one reason why health organizations do not advise regular consumption of juice drinks, especially for young children, because it can lead to obesity and cavities.
Juice Isn’t Helping the Body to “Rest”
While juicers say that juicing can help rest our bodies from having to “digest” foods, that’s not entirely true.
The body is designed to digest food. Honest. It doesn’t need babying. Even juicing, the body is still digesting carbs, as it’s designed to do. But I’m actually more concerned with what the body has to deal with after it’s digested.
Juicing is more apt to cause a sugar spike in your bloodstream. Why is that bad? Well, it’s hard on the body. It isn’t equipped to handle large amounts of sugar at a time. In consistently high amounts, sugar can be very toxic and inflammatory in the human body and can actually lead to higher weight gain as well as sundry diseases.
While you may get a rush at first from drinking a sugar-packed juice, it tires your body out very quickly. Your organs scramble to balance out the blood sugar levels, and regularly overcompensates by feeding cells and packing the rest away into storage (when I say storage, I mean it makes fat) as fast as it can, and flushing out the rest.
This can leave you with a lower blood sugar – called a “sugar crash”, or hypoglycemia. A sugar crash usually occurs within 3-4 hours of eating a high-sugar meal. When this happens, you may suddenly feel hungry again. Your body is tricked into thinking it is low in sugar because of the higher than normal levels of insulin left over. This may actually cause you to eat more.
High amounts of carbs and sugar can dry you out, too, from the sudden flushing and leads to dehydration. Besides thirst, you may experience a feeling of lightheadedness, headaches, confusion or difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms of sugar crash can include feelings headache, fatigue and/or lethargy, and feeling cranky or anxious.
So in summary, a regular diet of large quantities of sugary juice puts a person at increased risk for obesity and dental problems, and developing or aggravating many inflammatory chronic and acute disorders such as depression, asthma, some allergies, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Great, I’ll Stick to Green Juices
Well – green juices have some cons, too. There are some vegetables that are also extremely high in starch/sugar, such as beetroots, squash, potatoes (white and sweet), carrots, peas, and corn. And if you juice any of these vegetables after they’ve had a chance to really ripen or after cooking them, the sugar content shoots higher.
Juice is Missing the Best Part
Ultimately what I dislike about juicing is that our bodies lose out on all of the other benefits foods in their natural raw state have to offer. First, many fruits and vegetables have a much higher nutrient content (sometimes twice as much) in their skins than they do in the rest of the plant. And fiber, found in the tough undigestible parts of fruits, veggies, grains, etc., is a terrible thing to waste. Our body needs fiber to help promote good digestion and balance our blood sugar, and is essential in preventing certain cancers. It’s actually an essential nutrient in our diet, along with water, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Most Americans don’t get enough of it – more than 97 percent of us, to be precise.
How Fiber Works & Why it Matters
The digestion of sugar in our bodies starts as soon as it hits our tongue, and finishes up in the stomach. It never even makes it to the intestines. For survival’s sake, sugar has taken priority in our digestive system over time. Our brains and nervous system prefer sugar over any other fuel to function. This is for two reasons: Because of its ease of digestion, and the large amounts our nervous system needs daily to do work.
But for the most part, we didn’t eat copious amounts of sugar in eons past. If you look at our digestive system, it has a very loooooooooong intestinal tract. Why? Mostly because we evolved eating highly fibrous foods or tough proteins. It takes all that surface area inside of our bodies to break down and absorb most of the items stemming from our common ancestral diets.
Although the body learned to prioritize sugar and carbs, not many foods in nature flooded our system with it. The carbs that did eke into our system from our foods was often tied up in high fiber foods. Because of this, fiber in foods slow down digestion. Over time, our bodies grew patient. This allows a more balanced sugar content in our blood as it slowly – but consistently – traverses into the blood stream from the digestive tract as the fiber breaks down, releasing the coveted carbs.
Fiber is what keeps our bodies from being overburdened with sugar and helps keep our energy and fluid systems balanced.
When Juicing Does Support Health
So although I have some reservations about the benefits of juicing outweighing the negative for healthy people, there are some opportunities where it could really help other individuals. For example, if you:
- Have difficulty digesting high fiber foods or diets (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome [IBS], diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) – just be sure juiced greens are cooked beforehand, and avoid skins of fruits and vegetables (visit this website for more information)
- Have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are at risk for stroke or diabetes, and/or you are obese/overweight with a nutrient poor diet: Please do this with the help of a qualified nutritionist, so that you can complement juicing with a healthy diet and other lifestyle habits
- Are consistently under emotional or physical stress
- Are fasting (again, please do this with the help of a qualified nutritionist)
- Have difficulty absorbing nutrients from foods
- Are preparing to run a marathon or other high endurance activity and need energy fast
- Have a high metabolism and difficulty keeping on weight
- Have had abdominal or intestinal surgery and need to stay on a liquid diet
If you are interested in trying out juicing for any of the above reasons, and you have found a qualified nutritionist to support you, but you’re not sure what kind of equipment you’ll need? Check out Consumer Reports’ buying guide, and learn more about the best juicing blenders on the market here.
Looking For Support?
If you are wanting to make lifestyle changes or to want learn weight management skills and need help, contact me at platefulofsoulLLC@gmail.com, or fill out the form below and tell me more. I am excited to help you become the most vibrant, healthy, and positive you that you can imagine possible.
Eat well and eat happy!
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