It’s no wonder juicing is all the rage. Juices for the most part taste good and are convenient. They’re typically made with healthy ingredients and readily available from numerous juice bars, restaurants and grocery stores, making them the perfect grab-and-go snack or meal. But are they healthy and diet friendly? According to manufacturers’ claims, yes. They contain no added sugar, several servings of fruits and vegetables, and deliver a large dose of highly absorbable nutrients to our body. No need to eat a salad again, right? Not so fast. Many nutritional experts, myself included, warn against “over-juicing” or even drinking juice at all because of the excessive sugar and calories it involves. For women over 50, these tasty concoctions can wreak havoc on our energy, mood and waistline.
What’s wrong with juicing?
- It separates the water and natural sugar of the fruit and vegetable from the fibrous skin and pulp producing a liquid that is mostly sugar. For example, a 15.2oz bottle of “No sugar Added” Green Machine Naked Juice contains roughly 280 calories, no fiber and the equivalent of 13 teaspoons of sugar, albeit natural sugar but nevertheless sugar. A metabolic nightmare! Consuming sugar causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin followed by an equally quick corresponding drop in glucose. Postmenopausal women become more insulin resistant as they age making it ever so important to limit foods that when digested produce large amounts of insulin. Excess insulin encourages fat storage and inhibits our bodies from burning its own fat for energy. Hardly a winning combination for maintaining or losing weight ladies! Fluctuating blood sugar levels also cause bouts of fatigue throughout the day. Fiber, on the other hand, slows the absorption of sugar into our bloodstream, stabilizes our blood sugar and aids in weight loss. It also fills us up and keeps our digestive tract working efficiently. Unfortunately the beneficial fiber of produce is lost in the juicing process.
- It changes the form of the food resulting in a loss of nutrients. Despite manufacturers’ and juice enthusiasts’ claims, some of the antioxidants found in fruits and veggies are lost not “unleashed” when liquefied. Furthermore, the pulp, membrane and skin of produce contain the highest concentration of nutrients – all of which is discarded when juiced. In a 2012 study, food scientists at Texas A&M found significantly lower levels of phytonutrients in juices than in the blended versions of the produce.
- It encourages overindulgence and can inhibit weight loss. Large quantities of fruit and vegetables all of which contain calories are required to make a mere 8oz of juice. These calories add up quickly and can prevent and even result in weight gain. Think of how many oranges are needed to make a glass of fresh squeezed juice. Far more than most of us would ever consider eating with our breakfast. The fact that we don’t have to chew fruits or vegetables that are in juice form is another potential pitfall. Chewing helps control portion size and releases enzymes and acids that improve digestion. It also increases your sense of satisfaction from a meal, keeping you from going back to the kitchen for more.
The bottom line: Eat your fruits and vegetables – don’t drink them. The whole food is more nutritious, more satisfying and kinder to your waistline than the juice alone. It also has less of an impact on your blood sugar resulting in more consistent energy throughout the day. If you love your liquid nutrition and aren’t ready to give it up try blending your produce as it retains some of the fiber and more of the nutrients than juicing. Follow the tips below:
- Enjoy no more than 8oz a day, preferably 4oz
- Avoid the prepackaged juices that contain no fiber and have more than 10 grams of sugar per 8oz.
- Use mostly veggies and just a piece of fruit particularly dark leafy greens and other watery vegetables
- Add some fiber to your finished concoction – chia seeds work great
- Clean your machine well. The rubber seals of juicers, if not washed appropriately, can harbor high levels of molds and bacteria.
This article is for informational purposes only, is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is not a substitute for medical advice.