The Juice on Juicing
By Heidi Shoemaker, Dietitian, NASM-CPT, Renown Health Management Services
Juicing is very popular and many people try it to lose weight or “detox” the body. However, juicing is not a good idea for everyone. In fact, I don’t recommend everyone purchase a juicer; I recommend buying a really good blender.
Let’s clarify what “juicing” really means. There are many blenders and juicing machines on the market. A juicer squeezes the juice (water and sugar/carbohydrate) out of fruits and vegetables and leaves the “pulp” behind and that fiber gets thrown away. The goodies left behind are exactly why many Dietitians and Nutritionists encourage people to eat fruits and veggies in the first place!
A really good blender pulverizes the whole fruit or veggie and you get all the goodies nature intended. If you are a healthy person at a healthy weight, juicing may be just fine and it is certainly better than soda. If you are overweight drinking juice will NOT help you lose weight. In fact, it may cause weight gain. Calories in beverages do not fill up our tummies and make us eat less food; it is usually just extra calories.
Going on a juice-only diet may help you lose weight temporarily but it does not “detox” your body. There is no way to detox your body; simply breathing in air/oxygen causes free radicals to form (the basic process of metabolism causes free radicals). There is nothing I can do to prevent that; it is called life.
If one day a week you want to drink fruit/veggie juice only because it helps you feel good and keeps your weight down and you feel like it “cleans you out” then I can’t say that is unsafe. That is, if you are an otherwise healthy person.
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If you have diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance or insulin resistance juicing is a bad idea. Fiber is our friend; we don’t digest it or get calories from it. Fiber cleans us out and is the best “detox” you can give your body. For those of us that have a hard time eating breakfast (not hungry), making a fruit/veggie smoothie is a good idea and is much better than skipping meals, which can cause weight gain and erratic blood sugars.
Be careful of pre-made smoothies; these frequently have apple juice as their base and contain sherbet or other high calorie ingredients and can contain as many calories as a cheeseburger! I finally bought a good blender and this is one of my favorite recipes:
- 6 – 8 oz vanilla yogurt (or Greek yogurt if you want more protein)
- One cup frozen or fresh blueberries
- One frozen or fresh banana
- One cup frozen or fresh mango
- One cup frozen or fresh pineapple
- One or two cups fresh, chopped kale
Blend these ingredients together; may need to add some milk (cow’s, soy, almond, etc) to make it thinner. This makes 2 – 4 smoothies, depending on the size. I drink one right away and freeze the others. If you like it frosty like a milkshake, use frozen fruit (may have to let it thaw a little first). If you prefer it smoother and less frosty, use fresh fruit. The options are limitless! You can also add protein powder if desired or other fun additions like ground flaxseeds or almonds (any kind of nut could work). Be good to yourself and enjoy!
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