Is drinking produce better than eating

Juicing fruits and veggies is the latest dietary craze storming across the country.  From juice shops popping up in the neighborhood to celebrities jumping on the juice bandwagon, this trendy beverage infatuation looks to be around for a while.

For some people who really don’t like or won’t eat very many fruits and vegetables to begin with, the idea of drinking their produce may be more appealing.  It is possible to turn most raw fruits and veggies into liquid and it can add zest to an otherwise blasé dietary pattern. 

But is juicing a healthier, better and advantageous way to consume essential plant-based foods we need for vital vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals?  Let’s find out.

What is juicing?

There is variation of what juicing is – it could be going to a juice bar, to squeezing your own juice to buying a juicer sold on TV infomercials. The do-it-yourself home juicers can be rather pricey for many people with most ranging from $30 to more than $300.  There are also commercial juice plans you can buy where everything is already made for you but at a steep price – most kits range from $65 to $85 a day which is often cost-prohibitive for most people.

The home juicers have whirling blades that chop the food into tiny pieces which are then spun or pressed to separate the juice from the dietary fiber of the plant.  What is left is liquid with varying amounts of pulp which is dietary fiber.  Some juice extractors can be adjusted so that you can filter out more or less pulp.  Leaving in high amounts of pulp gives a more pudding-like consistency whereas less pulp gives a more watery juice.

Health claims – true or all hype?

·         Claim - Your body absorbs more nutrients from juice

Juice proponents will tell you that the fiber in produce makes it hard for your body to digest it and is taxing on the digestive system.  Don’t believe it.  Our digestive system is designed to handle fiber and to extract and absorb the nutrients from a wide variety of foods.  Besides, we need fiber for better digestion and good health.

·         Claim - Juicing is necessary to cleanse the body of toxins

Not true.  There is no convincing evidence supporting this claim.  Our body is a wonderfully designed piece of machinery fully equipped to cleanse itself of toxins – that’s the job of our liver and kidneys which are quite efficient at eliminating toxins we don’t need.

·         Claim - Juicing aids in weight loss

What promotes weight loss is a reduction in calories and an increase in exercise to burn extra calories.  If you use a commercial juice plan for weight loss, you most likely will see a drop in pounds lost but at a price.  The majority of calories in these juice beverages come from carbohydrates including a lot of natural sugar from fruits and some vegetables.  A key nutrient missing in action is protein, necessary to help you feel full while maintaining muscle mass and increasing your metabolic burn.  This high-carb, low-protein, low-fiber diet plan can cause dramatic swings in blood sugar levels leading to headaches, mood swings and dizziness.  Plus drinking the majority of your calories as liquids is just not as filling as eating whole foods making it hard to stick to this juice-only plan for very long without feeling weak, irritable, and extremely hungry.

·         Claim - Juicing maintains alkaline balance in the body

Some companies claim juicing is necessary to help your body reach a healthy alkaline pH.  Again, not true.  Our body is perfectly capable of regulating a tightly controlled pH at all times, no matter what you are eating.  No human studies have shown any reason or benefits of following an alkaline diet.

·         Claim - Juicing is economical

Not only does a commercial juice most likely sets you back a few hundred bucks but the money you spend may actually increase if you are looking to juice all your produce. That is because it takes a lot of produce just to get am 8 ounce glass of juice – much more that what it does to simply eat a whole piece of fruit or vegetables.  Save you money and eat fruits and veggies the way they were meant to be eaten – in their whole, natural form.

Bottom line

Juicing can be incorporated into an otherwise healthy meal plan a few times a week.  Just don’t consume all of your produce in liquid form.  Doing so, you will miss out on fiber and possibly some other important nutrients produce contains.  Plus chewing of produce gives a good workout to your teeth and gums along with helping you to feel fuller than always drinking them as a beverage.