Juicing – Fad or Fab?

Fresh-squeezed and freshly bottled juices have become a popular way to get the health benefits of fruits or vegetables and are also favored by dieters looking to “cleanse” their way to weight loss. But do juicing’s health claims hold up?

Why is juicing considered fab?
Some juicing proponents say that juicing is better for you than eating whole fruits because your body can absorb the nutrients better and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber. They say that juicing can reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immune system, help remove toxins from your body, aid digestion and help you lose weight. However, there’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself.

So then why not?
Your guilt-ridden glass of juice in place of a dinner meal will only make sure your waistline expands, the sleep quality deteriorates and you wake up with sugar cravings. Resorting to juices for detox in order to lose weight is a fool proof way of getting fat as it eliminates the nutritional value from the fruit and thus fails to deliver its benefit. What you drink may add more to your weight than what you eat, says a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They found that weight loss was positively associated with a reduction in liquid calorie consumption. Conversely, this kind of intake had a stronger impact on weight than solid calorie intake.

Juicing changes the bioavailability of nutrients and decreases the efficiency to showcase its nourishing effects on health. Here’s how

Effect on Nutrients:

Juicing destroys the structure of fiber, this affects its capabilities of lowering cholesterol, easing digestion and aiding in good gut health for better assimilation of nutrients. In case of fruit juice, it further raises the GI of the meal (Glycaemic Index- represents the relative ranking of carbohydrates in food depending on how they affect the blood-glucose level) – As the name suggests, this affects our blood sugar levels. Whole fruit slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream leading to decreased frequency and overall volume of food intake.

When fruits or vegetables are processed or exposed to air in the process of juicing, they lose much of their nutritional value. One natural chemical process that is harmful to many nutrients is oxidation, the same process that turns an apple brown when bruised or exposed to air.

Converting anything into juice robs it of antioxidants. Most fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants in the skin and the fruit peel. However, we do not reap its benefits, as the majority of the times, the skin and peels do not make it to the juice. For example, one study reports that an entire orange contains up to five times more of one major antioxidant than a glass of orange juice. You can guess where the antioxidant is found! It is found in the white pulp and membranes which separate the orange slices from each other. Fruit juices are a more concentrated source of calories than solid fruits.

Fiber produces satiety (feeling of fullness) and prevents further hunger-associated craving. Destruction of fiber during the process of juicing fails to provide satiety. A study published in Appetite Journal suggests that whole apple increased satiety more than applesauce or apple juice. Also, adding naturally occurring levels of fiber to juice did not enhance satiety. These results suggest that solid fruit affects satiety more than pureed fruit or juice. The cellular structure of the whole fruit requires chewing which gives it larger volume. Chewing may therefore also affect metabolism. This has been confirmed by research on the cephalic phase of digestion where gastric secretion occurs before food enters the stomach, especially while it is being eatenwhich shows that chewing is the initiating factor in this stage. This may partly explain the feeling of fullness after eating whole fruit as compared to fruit juice.

Effect on Body:

Fruit juice contains high levels of fructose (sugar in fruits).

In a small study, Texas researchers showed that the body converts fructose to body fat with surprising speed. These fats are stored in the form of triglycerides in the body that can lead to cardiovascular disease and other problems. Not only do fruit juices give you 4 or 5 times of fructose you get in one serving of fruit, but it also lacks the wholesomeness of fruit fiber.

Juices quickly reach the small intestine after consumption. For instance, after periods of “fasting”, in the mornings, the small intestine is unable to process large amounts of fructose, which causes it to ‘overflow’ into the large intestine. According to researchers, once fructose reaches the large intestine, it comes in contact with the good bacteria which isn’t equipped to process sugar. Also, researchers suggest that consuming fruit juice on an empty stomach ‘overwhelms’ the digestive system and may disrupt beneficial gut bacteria.

The conclusion: Fruit juices do not exactly perform wonders for our health. So, it doesn’t make a significant difference whether they are cold-pressed or not, no sugar or low. The only healthy way to make juice is by slowly and deliberately chewing it in your mouth so that it retains the nutrients, detoxes and benefits your health.
Exceptions are when digesting solid foods is an issue, you are on a liquid diet due to certain health conditions or for old people who are unable to chew. While it’s okay to enjoy a glass sometimes, but shouldn’t be a habit. It is also important to note that juices made at home without straining the pulp should be considered over the commercially processed ones. You might also consider blending instead of juicing. Blending the edible parts of fruits produces retains more healthy phytonutrients and fiber.

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