With the new year underway and everyone working on their New Year’s Resolutions, surely you have heard of people using the practice of juicing to cleanse one’s body and get back into health. But let’s talk about what juicing is, relevant information about it, and our recommendations on incorporating it.
Juicing – Should You?
Juicing is the process of extracting the liquid from fresh fruits and vegetables. This juice contains a lot of the produce’s vitamins and minerals that provide many health benefits to the body. They also provide phytonutrients, natural plant molecules that work in the body to reduce inflammation, fight toxins, and reduce our risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases.(1)
It is thought that juicing is good for the body since the body does not have to work through the pulp and fiber that traps these nutrients, and the body can absorb them quickly into the system.(2) Ultimately, there is not sufficient evidence to suggest drinking the juice of fruits and vegetables is healthier than eating the actual produce.
Juices can be made at home and are widely available on the market, from supermarkets to specialty stores. If you decide to incorporate juices, its importance to know the different types available:
- Organic juices do not provide more nutrients but are made from fruits and vegetables that are not treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Raw juices have a short shelf life and therefore should be kept refrigerated and are not treated for bacteria or other contaminants. This could pose an issue for pregnant women and those with low immune systems.
- Cold-pressed or HPP juices (high-pressure processed) are processed at low temperatures to kill bacteria, but this process does not reduce the amount of nutrients in the juices.
These methods do not affect the amount of nutrients in the juices, so one is not necessarily healthier than the other.
You may have also heard of “juice cleanses,” when people only drink juices throughout the day for multiple days without consuming anything else. Usually, the main objective of this is to “detoxify” the body, “clean out” the gut, and is most commonly for weight loss.(3) A couple of studies have found that juicing only initially causes some weight loss due to the lower calorie intake, which most people tend to gain back, and is not healthier than eating the actual fruits and vegetables.(2, 4) It is important to remember diets that severely restrict calories and exclude other food groups are not sustainable long-term.
However, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most Americans do not meet the recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake for a healthy diet.(5) Fruit and vegetable juices can help one get more servings of fruits and vegetables throughout their day. Keep in mind, it is recommended to aim for 100% fruit juices that have low to no added sugars, and that no more than half of your servings come from juices (which means keep eating those whole fruits and veggies throughout your day).
For those concerned with sugar intake (especially if you have or are at risk of diabetes or diabetes-related complications), fiber is important in controlling how fast our blood sugar rises so that they don’t spike too much. For this reason, we highly recommend opting for smoothies since it keeps the fiber intact, and you can also add other foods that provide protein, healthy fats and other nutrients, like Greek yogurt, milk, peanut butter or flax and chia seeds.
It’s important to know that fiber is critical to the health of the gut and has also been found to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and GI issues, and also helps the gut create byproducts that can help reduce inflammation in the body.(6) Fiber is also important in keeping us full throughout the day. These are just some reasons why we should continue to include whole fruits and vegetables in our diet, and as much as possible.
All in all, juices can be included in moderation in a healthy and balanced diet, but we encourage patients to continue to incorporate whole fruits and vegetables, as well as other food groups to provide protein and the nutrients that our bodies need. At one time, we recommend that you enjoy 1 cup of 100% fruit or vegetable juice!7
For additional questions and help with your New Year’s health resolutions, please feel free to call Avance Care Nutrition at 919.237.1337 option 4, or visit our website to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian today!