Juicing: Is it healthy? Should you be doing it?

Juicing is all the rage these days, with claims that drinking juice extracted from fruits and vegetables will cure health problems, detoxify the body and help with weight loss. Juicing has also been promoted as a great way for people who struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables to get the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals their bodies need.

According to the latest nutrition survey from the Centers for Disease Control, only 33 percent of Americans eat the recommended two or more servings of fruit each day, and only 26 percent of Americans eat three or more servings of vegetables. Juicing seems like a great way to improve intake, especially for those who don’t like the taste and texture of fruit and vegetables.

So, the question you’re probably asking – should I be juicing? Is it that healthy? In small amounts, it can help add essential nutrients to your diet. Doing it too often, however, isn’t a good strategy for weight loss or detoxification.

The Downsides of Juicing

  • You’ll lose important fiber. Juicing machines pulverize the fruit and vegetables, extract the juice, and leave the pulp and fiber behind. Fiber is crucial to your digestive system. It helps with lowering cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, keeping us regular, and providing a feeling of fullness. Drinking instead of eating vegetables and fruit makes you feel less satisfied as juice digests quickly in the body. Studies show the best way to feel full is to eat foods high in both fiber and water content such as whole vegetables and fruit
  • Possible calorie overload. Calories can add up fast with juicing, especially if you use more fruit than vegetables. One small orange contains about 60 calories, but one cup of orange juice contains 120 calories
  • Juicing can be expensive. Juicers often cost several hundred dollars. With juicing, you’ll also go through more produce, adding to your grocery bill. For example, it may take several carrots to get a ½ cup of carrot juice
  • Questionable health benefits. There’s no credible scientific evidence that a diet high in juiced foods cleanses the body. Our liver and kidneys take care of cleansing naturally when we eat healthfully. You may feel better and drop a few pounds with a juice cleanse/fasts, but the weight you lose will be mostly water weight, and the loss short-term
  • Slow metabolism. After more than three days on a juice cleanse or fast your body starts breaking down muscle mass for protein, slowing your metabolism. Because juice cleanses and fasts are low in protein (and usually calories), following them can give you headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, and low blood sugar
Get the Benefits of Juicing Without Hurting Your Health
  • Drink small amounts to keep calories down: Eight ounce serving for vegetables, four to six ounces for fruit
  • Include whole fruits and vegetables in addition to juice. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber. Eat fruit for a snack twice a day. Double your vegetable serving at lunch or dinner, including using them in soup or stir-fry
  • Use the leftover pulp from your juicer. Add it to soups, veggie burgers, muffins, and more for additional fiber
  • Consider using a blender instead of a juicer. Blending retains fiber. Not all vegetables work in the blender, but there are still many possibilities and fun combinations to explore. Smoothies are a great way to get your nutrients and fiber too. Try this green smoothie recipe
  • Add protein and healthy fats to your concoctions. For dietary balance and to increase satiety (feeling full), add yogurt, milk or milk alternatives, nuts and nut butters, powdered peanut butter (PB2), ground flaxseed, and chia seeds

Meet the Author

Heather Klug, MEd RD is a registered dietitian and cardiac educator at the Karen Yontz Women's Cardiac Awareness Center inside Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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