Documentaries tell a story in an entertaining way. Depending upon your interests you can pretty much find a documentary about it. One of the more popular documentary genres are related to food/nutrition and where food comes from.
Have you ever watched one of these food related documentaries and been inspired?
If so, keep reading as this is exactly what happened to a couple friends of mine. While visiting these friends and brining over a vegetable pizza for a snack, I learned that due to watching a food related documentary this couple decided not to eat but rather do a juice cleanse for the next month.
Instantly, red flags went up in my mind. Red flags not only went up due to being a Registered Dietitian but also due to the safety of complete elimination of consuming food in its natural state.
First off, what is juicing or a juice cleanse? Juicing is what it sounds like. It’s the consumption of raw/non-processed juice from fruits and vegetables. A juice cleanse, on the other hand, is the consumption of raw/non-processed juice from fruit and vegetables as your sole source of food/calories for a certain period of time.
The Truth about Juicing
Even though juicing sounds extremely “healthy” and that there is no way it could be bad for you this isn’t’ entirely accurate. Juicing is not any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing extracts juice from fresh fruit/vegetables resulting in a liquid that contains most of the vitamins, minerals, and plant nutrients (phytonutrients). However, what is lost by juicing is the fiber from the fruits and vegetables. By consuming fiber with the juice itself it also slows down digestion so you don’t have such peaks and pits in your blood sugar. Therefore, consuming the whole fruit and vegetable is actually better than juicing your produce.
Nevertheless, some may argue by saying that juicing is still better for you than eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber. Claims proposed with juicing include: reduce risk of cancer, boost immune system, help remove toxins from the body, aid digestion and help you lose weight.
However, there’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. Additionally, if you intend to do a juice cleanse, especially for a long period of time, you may have a difficult time adjusting to regular foods. The reason for this is the lack of muscle use in the gastrointestinal track. Saying hold true that “If you Don’t Use it, You Lose It” for your intestines as they are a muscle that likes to be worked. By consuming only liquids, your gut muscles don’t have to work like they would when you consume food and may cause problems when introducing whole food back into the diet. Additionally, expect muscle loss due to the lack of protein being consumed during long durations of a juice cleanse. Your body needs carbohydrates, fat and protein to function properly and when it does not receive those nutrients your body breaks down your body to obtain what it needs.
On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing is a great way to supplement your diet to increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals. If you do try juicing, make only as much juice as you can drink at one time because fresh squeezed juice can quickly develop harmful bacteria. And when juicing, try to keep some of the pulp. Not only does it have healthy fiber, but it can help fill you up. Add the pulp to things such as whole wheat bread/muffins to obtain the added nutrition.
All in all, use juicing as a supplement to your daily diet to help you obtain your 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Read and research how to do juicing correctly so you don’t consume harmful bacteria. Finally, maintain a healthy and nutritious balance of colorful foods in your diet by consuming a variety of carbohydrates, fat and lean protein sources.