Benefits of Juicing: Facts vs. Myths
Fruits and vegetables are a crucial part of a balanced diet. They provide a natural source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a host of other things your body needs. Some of the vitamins in fruits and vegetables include vitamin A, vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, and many others.
Unfortunately, in the United States especially, people do not eat enough vegetables. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables. This means that 90% of the population is not getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. Federal guidelines recommend that people should eat 1½ to 2 cups of fruit a day, and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.
There are several potential reasons as to why we do not get enough fruits and vegetables in our diets. One reason is the rise of the fast food industry. Ever since McDonald’s opened in 1955, Americans have had access to greasy, quickly made, and convenient fast food. While it is tasty, it doesn’t have a lot of vegetables.
Another reason why Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables is psychological. Everyone remembers being a little kid and not wanting to eat their vegetables. (Well, most people anyway. There probably are a few exceptions.) The tastes, textures, and looks of fruits and vegetables can be off-putting for some.
For those looking to make a change in their diet, finding ways to increase their vegetable intake can be challenging. Recently, one method has popped up that has revolutionized the way we take in vegetables. This method is juicing. In this article, we will cover how juicing works, the health benefits of juicing, and some of the myths surrounding it.
How Juicing Works
Basically, juicing is a preparing method where you puree fruits and/or vegetables until they are in a liquid form. This makes them easier to take in. The cool thing about juicing is that you can do it to almost any fruit or vegetable. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to juice every
single one (like potatoes) but it is extremely easy to do.
Another cool thing about juicing is that it makes the fruits and vegetables extremely portable. With regular fruits and vegetables you have to carry around a lunch
bag, cooler, what have you. With juicing you can just use a sports bottle, which will easily fit into any bag.
The most popular ingredients are leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, celery, and so on. Also, red fruits and vegetables are frequently used as well. These include apples, beets, lemons, strawberries, and lemons. (Yes some of those technically aren’t red, but they are frequently combined.) The combination will depend on your preference of flavors, and also desired health benefits. (More on this later)
So, juicing may be easy, but why should you do it? Well, there are a lot of different claims about the benefits of juicing. Some are scientifically proven claims through research. Other claims are not proven, and still, others are complete myths. To help give you a clear understanding, here is a breakdown of the facts vs. the myths of juicing.
Benefits of Juicing: Facts
1. Juicing Helps Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake
As previously stated, Federal Guidelines say you should get at least 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. However, if you’re not a fan of salads this can be a bit of a challenge. Juicing gets rid of that difficulty. With juicing, all of the nutrients will still be there; the packaging is just changed a little bit.
Also, with juicing you can create different combinations that will help you get a good variety. For example, some common juice mixes are greens like kale, cucumber, spinach, and green apple. Another good mix would be red fruits and vegetables like red apples, carrots, beets, lemons, and ginger. Feel free to experiment
2. Juicing Helps Improve Your Vitamin Intake
In the human body, there are several substances called vitamins that help everything function properly. These vitamins affect everything from metabolism, to pregnancy, to bone strength. Overall, there are 13 vitamins that are essential to normal functions. Many of these vitamins are found in vegetables and fruits.
The most common vitamins in vegetables and fruits are Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Niacin, Folate, and Vitamin K. These vitamins are found in vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, avocado, and kale. They are also found in fruits like apples, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and bananas.
Juicing vegetables and fruits can help you get the vitamins that you need. This is important because often, people aren’t getting all the vitamins they need. According to an article from Livestrong.com, one in four Americans do not get enough Vitamin C in their diet. Also, one in three Americans do not get enough Vitamin A in their diet.
3. Juicing Helps Lower Your Blood Sugar
Most people have heard about blood sugar at some point from their doctor. This is no surprise considering the prevalence of high blood sugar and the disease associated with it. This disease is diabetes. Diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to deal with blood sugar levels properly. This condition is becoming more and more common as time goes on. In 2015, approximately 30.3 million Americans had either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Since diabetes is becoming more widespread, it is important to know how to combat and prevent it. Surprisingly, it has been shown that juicing can help lower blood sugar levels. In a study in the United Kingdom published in 2017, researchers found that consumption of a juiced fruit (mixed) significantly reduced blood sugar response and glycemic index (how much the sugar in the blood is raised.) This was in comparison not only with conventional fruit juice but also with consuming whole fruit!
As incredible as it sounds, juicing has been shown to be an effective method to helping lower blood sugar. Some ingredients that will help with this include ginger, broccoli, celery, and spinach.
4. Juicing Can Help Improve your Gut Bacteria
Bacteria, while it can make you sick, are also a key component in your body’s digestive system. And the interesting thing is, your body is full of them. According to research, there are over 500 bacterial species in your colon alone! These bacteria help break down all kinds of food and also help synthesize vitamins.
Not only does having healthy bacteria help your digestion, it also helps prevent against disease. A study published in 2015 shows that gut bacteria are responsible for helping maintain the body’s immune system. This system helps your body maintain good bacteria and combat against pathogens.
There are two ways to improve your gut bacteria, according to research. One is to increase your intake of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria cultures that are in foods like yogurt. The second method is prebiotics. Prebiotics are substances that induce bacteria growth. These are found in fruits and vegetables like bananas.
Juicing can help you improve your gut bacteria. If you use vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage, you are taking in lots of prebiotics. Also, if you want to do a two for one special of prebiotics and probiotics, consider doing some mixes of juiced vegetables or fruits and Greek yogurt into a smoothie.
5. Juicing Helps Improve Your Skin
Among the many functions of vitamins, the most superficial one is maintaining skin health. This job falls to vitamins A, C, D, and Niacin. These vitamins keep your skin and your nerves strong and healthy.
One of the best ways to get the vitamins you need is through fruits and vegetables. As previously stated, vitamins are found in all kinds of fruits and vegetables. To be specific, the vitamins crucial to skin health are found in dark-colored fruits and vegetables, avocado, citrus fruits, and many others.
It is extremely easy to get a juice combination that will help improve your skin. Since the fruits and vegetables that contain the necessary vitamins are so numerous, you can even focus more on how the mixture tastes. Taste is always an important factor because no matter how good something is for you if people don’t like the taste, they won’t drink it.
6. Juicing May Improve Athletic Performance
In recent years, there have been some athletes who started drinking vegetable and fruit juice. One of the biggest names (although you probably haven’t heard it) to advocate for pre-run juice was elite marathoner Ryan Hall. As it turns out, he probably isn’t wrong.
A study published in 2016 looked at the effects of tart cherry juice on endurance athletes. The athletes who drank tart cherry juice ran faster marathon times than those who did not. Also, the faster athletes reported less muscle soreness afterward.
The other juice, the one that Ryan Hall swears by, is beetroot juice. This can have benefits for both endurance and sprint athletes. In a study from Exeter University, athletes improved their sprint speed and reaction time. These athletes came from the sports of Rugby, Football, and Hockey.
Myths About Juicing
Now, we’ve covered what juicing is and what some of the valid benefits of it are. Now for the record, these benefits are primarily from increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. The juicing process simply changes the packaging of said food, making it easier to consume and more convenient. There is another meaning for juicing, and that is an entire diet or a “cleanse” that uses juicing as its basis. The benefits of this are much less credible, and here are some of the claims.
1. Juicing Can Detoxify Your Body
There is a popular trend with juicing called “cleansing.” The idea is that you shift your diet to consuming only vegetables (in raw or juiced form) and water to “cleanse” or “detoxify” your body. In simple terms, this diet is supposed to help your body get rid of harmful acids or toxins.
While this sounds all cool and science-y, these claims are false for several reasons. The first is through the assumption that it makes about your body. Your body is constantly detoxifying itself already, through several organs including the liver, kidneys, and GI (gastrointestinal) tract. According to Registered Dietitian Joy Dobust, since the body already naturally cleanses itself, a person does not need to do a cleanse to be healthy. Let’s be honest, if we had to do cleanses to keep our bodies healthy, we’d all be dead already.
2. Juicing Is a Good Weight Loss Technique
Advocates of juicing and cleansing say that it is a great way to lose weight quickly. However, many experts strongly disagree. According to Registered Dietitian Heather Mangieri, there is no scientific evidence that cleanse diets result in rapid weight loss. In fact, they may even have the opposite effect.
Losing weight is all about your metabolism. Metabolism is the sum of anabolism (your body storing fuel) and catabolism (your body using fuel.) What your body runs on in calories. Basically, if the amount of calories you take in is equal to the calories you burn, your weight will stay the same. If the amount is greater, you will gain weight. If the amount is less than the amount you burn, you will lose weight.
The problem with juicing is that it creates a rapid and massive calorie deficit. When you go on a juice cleanse, you are basically doing a fast. Such a severe change causes your body to go into starvation mode. This means that it will reduce the number of calories you burn. If your body reduces the number of calories you burn, then weight loss becomes extremely difficult. The only initial weight loss you do experience comes from water loss.
Although it may sound like a good idea, juicing as a weight loss diet does not work in the long term. It is just a quick-fix fad diet that can actually have the opposite effect.
Juicing: Healthy Habit or Fake Fad?
Everyone can benefit from getting more fruits and vegetables in their diet. They provide several essential nutrients and health benefits. For those who have trouble finding the time to cook whole vegetables, juicing is a great alternative to get your daily-recommended intake of vegetables. This will not only improve your blood sugar and skin but also potentially your athletic performance.
Juicing as a method of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is scientifically verified. Juicing as a detoxing method or a weight loss diet, however, is a quick-fix fad that has no basis in research.
If you are looking to start juicing, be sure to consult with your doctor and registered dietitian. Hopefully, using juicing will help you improve your health and happiness.