By Steven Hutchings
I hate to be a killjoy, but I’m going to dispell a common health myth. Don’t try juicing for weight loss.
Don’t try juicing for the other misconceptions you may have heard either, like detoxing benefits and better nutrient absorption. The evidence is skimpy, and your body is already equipped to detox on its own.
See, the USDA advises that healthy adults try to eat two to four whole fruits and three to five vegetables each day. Ideally you’d eat fruits for each color of the rainbow for the best variety of nutrients and the health benefits that go with them. Most folks don’t get anywhere near that recommended intake, so they try juicing, with the impression they’re getting essential nutrients without the calories. That’s just partly true.
With this being said, juicing can help fortify an already healthy diet. Curious to know if you should join the crowd and start pulverizing your next basket from the produce department? Pull up a chair and let’s find out…
Is Juicing Healthy?
Er, sometimes. Juicing does provide some health benefits. It’s an easy way to consume fruits and vegetables that you’d otherwise not eat. You can also separate the pulp in a juicer and add it to recipes like pasta for extra nutrients.
But it’s important not to get complacent when juicing. The practice should not replace whole fruits and vegetables from the average diet. Contrary to what you may have heard, juicing does alter nutrients – you’re removing the skin and pulp, after all. And perhaps the most common reason why people try juicing; for weight loss. You might be disappointed for this too, because it’s exceptionally hard to stick to an all-liquid diet. Even if you can, you’ll probably just pack on the pounds later.
Contrary to what you may have heard, juicing does alter nutrients – you’re removing the skin and pulp, after all.
This is not to dissuade you from juicing completely. The practice does have a place, and that’s primarily to compliment an already healthy diet. You can also sneak a few exotic fruits or vegetables that you’d otherwise not eat through juicing. And for a particularly stealthy move, add some fruits or veggies a la juicing in your kids’ meals to ensure they’re getting these vitamins and minerals.
TRY Juicing If…
You Want to Fortify Your Meals – Juicing lets you bolster food with nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Even if you don’t like pulp, try to add it to your recipes too because it’s a rich source of nutrition.
You Would Not Normally Eat Fruits and Veggies – Fruits and vegetables should be front and center in anyone’s diet, and like we’ve discussed, juicing should not replace eating the real thing. But in the off-chance that you really don’t like fruits and vegetables, juicing is probably better than not eating them at all.
You Want To Consume New Fruits and Vegetables – There’s an exciting world of produce from exotic places you’re probably not eating. Assuming you already get the USDA’s recommended seven to nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables, juicing can open up new doors of nutrition for the adventerous.
DON’T Try Juicing If…
You Think It Will Help You Lose Weight – Join the hordes if you think juicing will help you lose weight fast. Yes, in theory it makes sense that drinking liquids will burn calories, but there are holes in that argument. First, juices have sugar, and are a common source of hidden calories.
Second, many dieticians will tell you that the body actually slows metabolism during times of slow calorie intake, like during a crash diet – after which you’re vulnerable to building more fat cells.
And third, do you have the willpower to avoid solid food? Most people don’t, and they end up bingeing. In other words, at the end of a crash diet, like juicing for weight loss, you’ll probably gain the pounds back and add a few more.
You Think It Will Detox Your Body – Let your body do its job. The liver and kidneys detox the body naturally. Don’t starve yourself of much-needed calories under the false assumption that your body needs to be purged.
You Think It Will Improve Nutrient Absorption – This doesn’t fly. Many juicing proponents claim the practice improves nutrient absorption because fiber impedes the body from processing nutrients. While there might be some truth to the logic, most people get too little fiber – not too much of it.
So you’re keen to get juicing and your motives are good. You know that juicing does not help with long-term weight loss and nor is it healthier than eating fruits and vegetables. This is all good – so let’s review the basics of juicing safety and how to ensure your juicing experience is a pleasant one.
Speak With Your Doctor About Specific Health Concerns – Don’t start juicing until you speak with your doctor about concerns regarding interactions with health conditions or medications. For example, vitamin K-rich foods like kale and spinach can interfere with anti-blood clotting medications when consumed in high quantities.
Wash Your Hands – Germs thrive on hands and spread easily to food. As a general rule, you should wash your hands with soap, thoroughly, for about as long as it would take to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Vitamin K-rich foods like kale and spinach can interfere with anti-blood clotting medications when consumed in high quantities.
Clean the Produce – Wash your fruits and vegetables too. Apples in particular should be washed thoroughly because they’re often covered in pesticides.
Use Your Dishwasher or Hot Soapy Water – Heat is the only way to kill dangerous bacteria like E Coli. Put your utensils and cutting board through your dishwasher and use the sanitizer cycle. Do the same with your juicer or blender if they’re dishwasher-friendly. If not, wash them with hot soapy water.
Only Make Enough For One Sitting – Juice can quickly develop bacteria unless it is pasteurized.
Try These Juicing Recipes to Compliment a Healthy Diet
Now, you’re equipped with a little knowledge and you’re ready to put your hat in the juicing arena. Try these juicing recipes. You can make them with a juicer or even your blender. Note that you can adjust these recipes to suit your preferences by adding water. Or for a smoothie, combine a cup of juice from any recipe with 1 cup ice cubes, ½ a cup low fat yogurt and a banana. Puree them in your blender.
Power Gulp – Iron central here, which can be useful during pregnancy and your period. Iron is important for blood health and muscle development too, and this recipe comes with a hefty kick of bone-friendly vitamin K.
Combine: Kale, green grapes, cucumber and Granny Smith apple.
Health Booster – A cocktail of anti-aging nutrients, the Health Booster packs lutein with vitamins A, B, C and E for increased collagen and stronger bones.
Combine: Apple, pears, cherries
Antioxidant Supreme – Antioxidants fight inflammation, which can protect against the effects of aging. Many believe that antioxidants might even protect against ailments like heart disease and possibly even dementia.
Combine: Blueberries, strawberries, mango
Energy Upper – Assuming you’re not hypoglycemic, diabetic or have other health concerns that would have you avoiding sugar, the natural fruit sugars and electrolytes in the Energy Upper can keep you hydrated and energetic.
Combine: Lychees in syrup, peaches and coconut water
Immune Booster – Punch your next cold in the face with this vitamin C-packed powerhouse. The kiwi alone provides twice your needed intake of the cold-fighting vitamin for the day, and the citrus makes colds quiver.
Combine: Grapfruit, oranges, kiwis
Post-Workout Refuel – Aspiring Arnolds take note. The almonds in the Post Workout Refuel help build and repair muscle. And the potassium is twice that of what you’d get in two bananas, which helps balance your electrolytes and fluids.
Combine: Oranges, almonds, sweet potato, apple
Detox – While the description is slightly misleading, it’s a winning combination. The Detox recipe combines digestion-friendly fiber with ginger. The latter moves food efficiently through the digestive system and may reduce nausea.
Ingredients: Ginger, beets, carrots, apple