Today I want to talk about juicing. And after that I want juicing to die. I’m so sick of hearing about it. Just earlier this week someone asked me what I thought of a grapefruit juice cleanse and another asked about those daily shakes food companies make that claim spectacular weight loss and incredible nutrition benefits.
You, my wonderful readers, are highly intelligent homo sapiens. Considering this, do you truly think that eating nothing but grapefruit for a week is healthy in any way shape or form? Grapefruit. It’s mostly just water. And if someone told you to drink nothing but water for a week you would tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine. That’s not a “diet” nor is it “healthy,” that is some concentration camp nonsense.
What about these shakes that fitness, supplement, and food companies are putting out though? Again, you are intelligent homo sapiens. Do you think it’s appropriate to replace meals with nothing but liquid and synthetic vitamins? Fiber which has been extracted from actual foods then placed into a shake with high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil? When I put it like this it seems bizarre, does it not? Chewing our food is pleasurable, slows down digestion and absorption, and can help make us feel fuller longer.
Juicing, juice cleanses, and mass produced “nutrition” shakes suck. You don’t know where the ingredients came from or how long ago the “food” in it was plucked from the ground. Real food breaks down over time, it can’t sit on a shelf for very long and still provide nutrition for your body. You also don’t know if the nutrients are synthetic or real. Even if they are real you don’t know what chemical extractions all those added vitamins and minerals had to go through to get out of the foods they belong in and into your shake.
Remember the quote: “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”? It’s the same thing with food. Whole foods give us energy, water, vitamins, and minerals but they also give us things like fiber and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals fight cancer, help to prevent heart disease, and keep inflammation in check to name a few and the research on these superheros is just scratching the surface. You don’t want to give them up. And remember the word synergy? According to Wikipedia it means: the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of the individual effects. This is exactly how real food works. Things interact together to produce magic. Magic cooler than Harry Potter. When we isolate nutrients in a lab then just shove them back into a drink or a supplement the synergy is lost and their ability to nourish us decreases.
Our bodies know how to handle whole foods and the nutrients in them in reasonable quantities. When you shove something down your gullet that has excess vitamins and minerals your body just excretes them. You’re literally peeing your money away buying this crap. What’s more, think about if you ate an orange versus drinking orange juice. How many oranges do you think needed to be squeezed in order to get a glass of orange juice? If you eat one orange you’re getting about 15 grams of carbohydrates versus 25 grams for an 8 ounce glass of orange juice. But you removed the fiber from your juice so now there is nothing to slow digestion like when you eat a whole orange. Your body will absorb it rapidly and your blood sugar will spike. There are 27 grams of carbohydrate in 8 ounces of cola. Why are we demonizing soda but not juice? Check back Nutrition Genius Radio Episode #24 on non-alcoholic beverages to hear what we think of juice.
The news isn’t all bad. Smoothies can be a fun way to mix up your morning routine or a tasty way to add extra fruits, vegetables, and nutrients to your diet as long as you’re doing it the right way. But what is the right way?
Whole foods are the key. Our bodies were designed to digest foods in their whole form and when we remove a component from the whole it can become downright toxic (soy lecithin anyone?). And dang, chewing food is just plain satisfying, so-
Leave the pulp
Use a blender rather than a juicer. Liquids are absorbed into our bodies much faster than solids are which means your stomach and intestines will empty quicker. Empty gut = hungry you = overeating = tire around the waist. Juicing, where the fiber is removed, can produce a beverage high in sugar. A liquid source of carbohydrate has a greater insulin response than a solid source of carbohydrate . High insulin responses from low fiber carbohydrates leads to insulin resistance . Insulin resistance = type 2 diabetes. Stop. Go back and reread those last three sentences. Got it? Okay proceed. On top of that, the whole process of digestion uses energy. You actually burn more calories in the time period after eating; this is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). TEF accounts for about 10% of the calories your body burns in a day. No pulp means less effort for your body and less calories burned. Plus, fiber is key in keeping your intestinal bacteria healthy.
Add some fat
Some nutrients must be combined with a source of fat in order to be properly absorbed. Kale, a frequently added smoothie component, is a great source of vitamins A and K which are fat soluble vitamins. Without fat these vitamins will not be absorbed properly. Don’t flush your nutrition down the toilet. Try adding raw or organic whole milk, raw or organic whole milk plain yogurt, coconut oil, or avocado.
Add some green
More vegetables are the whole point of this smoothie craze, right? Add any sort of leafy green you want. If you are a frequent spinach eater add kale, sprouts, dandelion greens, chard, endive, anything. Go to the grocery store and pick up the weirdest sounding leafy green thing you find and add it. If you are already adding green things make sure you rotate. Different plants have different nutrients and you need them ALL. Be greedy with your nutrients. Variety is a beautiful thing. You can thank Wikipedia for this handy list of greens. And don’t forget about fresh herbs! They can add both great flavors and a different mix of nutrients. Get over the fact that it makes your smoothie green. You’ve eaten purple Peeps before for crying out loud.
Say no to sweeteners
Just add fruit. Berries rock. Duh.
Don’t overdo it
Just because it is green and contains vegetables doesn’t mean the calories just evaporate. Fat is an essential component of a nutritious smoothie but adding too much can jack up the calories quickly. This can be okay if a smoothie is the only thing you have for breakfast. Although some people can remain satisfied until lunch many of us will find our stomachs growling after a liquid breakfast. If that is the case, do a 50/50 split of half your breakfast calories coming from juice and half from food you actually chew. You don’t need to have a smoothie everyday, either.
Hope this helps to clarify some misconceptions about the juicing craze, leave us a message in the comments if you have more questions!