What is juicing?
Many people rave about the benefits of juicing, especially for weight loss. Fruits and vegetables are, indeed, an important part of a healthy diet. They're low in calories and high in antioxidants, which are compounds found in plants that can help fight diseases. However, there is some controversy over whether juicing as a practice is a healthy and effective way to lose weight.
Juicing is the process of extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables. Juice contains most of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants of whole fruits. Some people claim that juicing is better than eating whole fruits because your body can absorb more nutrients from juice and your digestive system doesn't have to work as hard to digest juice.
Some other claims you may hear about juicing are that it:
- Reduces your risk of cancer
- Boosts your immune system
- Removes toxins from your body
- Aids digestion
- Helps you lose weight
However, there's no scientific evidence that any of those claims are true or that juicing is healthier than eating whole fruit. In fact, juicing removes all of the beneficial fiber from fruits and vegetables.
Juicing and fiber
One of the biggest nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables is the fiber they contain. Fiber is the part of a plant that your body can't absorb or digest. Despite this, eating fiber has many health benefits. A high-fiber diet:
- Slows the rate your body absorbs sugar, which helps control your blood sugar
- Lowers your cholesterol level
- Helps control your weight by filling you up
- Lowers your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease
- Helps your bowels stay healthy
- Normalizes your bowel movements
Juicing advocates claim that juice gives your body a rest from digesting fiber. However, most adults don't get nearly enough fiber each day, so there's no reason they'd need a rest. You should eat 25 to 40 grams of fiber daily, but most people only get 15 grams of fiber daily.
Can a juice diet help you lose weight?
You'll lose weight on any diet that facilitates a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. Many juice diets are very low in calories, so you may lose weight in the short term.
However, because they lack fiber and variety, juice diets aren't filling and will probably be hard to maintain. Additionally, consuming only juice doesn't provide enough energy to support a healthy physical or mental state.
Any extremely restrictive diet, such as juice fasting, increases your risk of developing:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Mental health conditions such as eating disorders
Do juice diets help you detox?
Despite claims to the contrary, your body doesn't need a special diet to detox. Your liver does an excellent job of dealing with any toxins in your body. Its function is to detoxify the things you eat, breathe, or ingest. The best way to detox your body, then, is to keep your liver healthy. You don't need a juice fast to do that. You can keep your liver healthy by making sure you don't overload it with sugar, fat, or alcohol.
Overindulging in fatty, sugary foods or alcohol can damage your liver over time by adding fat to it. However, this damage can't be repaired by short-term diets like juice fasts. You can only stop the damage by eating a healthy diet and limiting your consumption of alcohol.
Eating a plant-based diet consisting mostly of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will give you most of the benefits that juice diets claim to provide, including:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved digestion
- Increased energy
- A boost to your immune system
Is juicing bad for you?
While juice diets aren't a good way to lose weight, drinking juice can be a part of a healthy diet. Some benefits of drinking juice include:
Increasing Produce Consumption
Most people fall short of consuming the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables. Combining whole fruits and vegetables with 100% fruit and vegetable juice can help you make up the difference and may be a less expensive way to meet the daily recommendation.
Studies have shown that adults and children who drink 100% fruit juice have a better quality diet than those who don't. Juice may help you get enough important nutrients such as:
Phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables are compounds that have benefits for your health, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Drinking juice can increase your phytonutrient intake. One-half cup of Concord grape juice has enough of the phytonutrient polyphenol to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
How to juice healthily
If you want to incorporate juicing into your healthy diet, here are some tips for how you can do it:
Consider It an Extra
Don't use juice as the main part of your daily diet. Instead, consider it a supplemental part of your diet. Juice doesn't have the fiber and protein you need for good health, but it can be a great way to get in some extra vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Focus on Vegetables
Because all of the fiber is removed in the juicing process, the sugar is more concentrated. Since fruit has more sugar than vegetables, make vegetables the biggest portion of your juice drinks. You can use vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, cucumber, and celery and just add a small amount of fruit such as apples or pears.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism: "Healthy strategies for successful weight loss and weight maintenance: a systematic review."
Chicago Health: "The pros and cons of juicing for health."
Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet," "Is juicing healthier than eating whole fruits or vegetables?"
MD Anderson Cancer Center: "4 detox myths: Get the facts."
National Foundation for Cancer Research: "The Benefits of Juicing: Fact vs Fiction."
The Nutrition Source: "Antioxidants."
Today's Dietician: "Juicing Trends: Functional Varieties Diversify the Category."
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