The Juicing for Health Movement:Juice from raw fruits and vegetables may be a good addition to a healthy diet. Get some advice on juicing from a nutrition expert.Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne was a big advocate of eating raw fruits and vegetables and juicing as part of a healthy life. For many Americans, Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer was their first exposure…
By Chris Iliades, MD
The Juicing for Health Movement:
Juice from raw fruits and vegetables may be a good addition to a healthy diet. Get some advice on juicing from a nutrition expert.
Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne was a big advocate of eating raw fruits and vegetables and juicing as part of a healthy life. For many Americans, Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer was their first exposure to the idea of putting raw produce in a blender and extracting the juice. But does juicing really provide a nutritional advantage?
The philosophy behind the juicing movement is that the juice from raw fruits and vegetables contains special enzymes that are good for digestive health. People who support juicing claim that raw juice can build up your immune system and help you fight off diseases like cancer. Other claims for juicing have included slowing the aging process and removing dangerous toxins from the body.
Digestive Health Claims of juicing:
– Nutrients from raw juices have the ability to correct imbalances in the body’s cells that come from eating foods considered less natural.
– Enzymes that are important for your digestion are contained in raw fruit and vegetable juices, and these enzymes are destroyed by cooking.
– Since fruit and vegetable juice is easy to digest, it leaves more energy for the body to fight off diseases and heal itself.
What the Experts Say About Juicing:
Juicing devalues the fruits and vegetables because it may eliminate some of the food’s fiber.
Debra J. Johnston, RD, director of nutrition services at Remuda Ranch, a program for eating disorders in Wickenburg, Ariz., says there is value in juicing. “Juicing may be a good way for individuals who do not consume enough fruits and vegetables to get important vitamins and minerals by creating tasty concoctions of fruit and vegetable juice,” she says.
But the very process also devalues the fruits and vegetables, she says, because it may eliminate some of the food’s fiber. “Fiber not only plays an important role in digestive health but it also helps us feel fuller for longer,” she says.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for digestive health and may even reduce cancer risk. But there is no evidence that drinking fruit or vegetable juice is better for you than eating whole fruits or vegetables. There is no evidence to support the idea that the enzymes found in raw fruits and vegetables have any special powers. These enzymes are broken down by your stomach juices during digestion.
Risks of Juicing
The ACS warns that juicing should never be considered as a treatment for cancer. Relying on juicing in place of an accepted cancer treatment can be very dangerous. Here are some other cautions regarding juicing:
– Overuse of juicing can cause sudden weight loss and diarrhea.
– “By drinking your fruits and vegetables, you may not feel as full as you would if you ate them. This could cause you to overeat in other food groups,” says Johnston.
– “It is easy to drink more calories than we need when our juices are made primarily from fruit, which is high in natural sugars,” warns Johnston.
What Are the Best Juices for Digestive Health?
While there is no evidence that extracted juices are better for you than whole foods, there are some juice tips to keep in mind if you want to supplement your healthy diet with juices:
– Include pulp in your fruit juices to get the fiber that is important for digestive health.
– Don’t rely too much on fruit juice, because fruit is higher in sugar.
– The juice of starchy vegetables like carrots and beets is also higher in sugar.
– Make sure commercially produced juices have been pasteurized to prevent infection.
Adopt a fiber-rich Diet:
Despite the claims of juicing advocates, there is no evidence that juicing will do anything for your digestive health that eating whole fruits and vegetables won’t. You can add fruit and vegetable juice to a healthy diet for added nutrition, but remember that a diet high in fiber from whole fruits and vegetables is better for digestive health.
“My recommendation is to juice if you want to, but also remember to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables in their whole state to help keep you full and satisfied,” advises Johnston.
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