Juices are everywhere recently, green juices, super-food juices, immunity boosting juices, miraculous disease curing juices. Juicing and juice diets were once known as an extreme approach to weight loss, but this approach is now a multi-million dollar business, where juicing is promoted for ‘cleansing’, ‘detoxing’ and consuming more nutrients. I get questioned all the time on “Should I be juicing my fruit and vegetables?” “Will it help me lose weight?” “Will it make me healthier?” But like many things in nutrition, the answers aren’t that simple. So, read on if you are interested to know if juicing is really worth the hype.
When you juice fruits and vegetables, you are extracting the juice (or sugar) from the fruit and vegetables and leaving behind the fibrous outer layers. That means when you drink the juice, you are drinking their water and sugar content, and much of their vitamins and minerals. However, the fibre (flesh of the produce), which has amazing health benefits, is removed. Because of this, juices should not be relied on as a sole dietary source of fruit or vegetables.
Although you aren’t drinking the whole fruit, the juice will still contain the full calorie and sugar amount as the whole fruit. And because juices are in liquid form, this makes them so easy to over-consume. For example, one apple has 3g of fibre, 72 calories and would take roughly 5 minutes to eat... One apple juice is made of 3 - 5 apples, has no fibre, is 310 calories and takes no more than 2 minutes to drink. For some, drinking juices multiple times a day, the sugar content can really add up, while fibre consumption lags behind.
So… Should I be juicing my fruit and vegetables?
Short answer, no. If you have a fully functioning jaw, oesophagus, and intestinal tract, you have no need to be juicing. Our ‘fullness’ cue is triggered when we start chewing. Our brain receives messages that food has entered our body, and will start doing its magic to stop the body needing food. However, if we drink, we aren’t chewing, which results in our body continuing to tell us to consume more. Also, as fibre is diminished in the juicing process, the juice gets digested really quickly, further disallowing us to feel full.
Will it help me lose weight?
Well, if you are drinking a couple of juices a day, you may be consuming an equivalence of 5 – 10 fruits! And that is way beyond what the body needs. Now remember, although fruit is nutritious, you can still meet your recommended daily intake of some vitamins and minerals from eating 2 serves of whole fruit and 5 serves of whole vegetables. This way, you’ll also be consuming the fibre, which aids in weight loss by triggering fullness cues and also using up calories for digestion (you can think of it as a thermogenic effect). Cool, huh?
Will it make me healthier?
If you are eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit daily, you are well on track for a healthy lifestyle. Juicing isn’t a miraculous way to become healthy, it is just marketed that way because of misinformation and many clever marketers. You can have a juice from time to time if you enjoy them, but they should not be a sole source of fruit and vegetables.
What does this all mean?
Well, think of juices as a mini-meal or a large snack, not something that quenches thirst. If you feel like eating fruit and vegetables, eat them in their natural form - you'll not only be having the amazing fibre, but you'll feel a lot fuller and therefore end up consuming less sugar (and calories!) If you are out, order the smallest juice sizes where possible; but most importantly, if you’re thirsty, drink water: it's available, accessible, the only drink that quenches thirst and... It's free!!!
So, I’m sorry to say, but juices are definitely not worth the hype.