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Psst. Juicy Juicing Secrets
Does juicing offer a genuine health boost or is it a bust?
Do an internet search on juicing and you will find plenty of articles on how it can cure everything from skin problems such as acne and rashes to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Celebrities such as Megan Fox and Salma Hayek are turning to juicing for weight loss and healthy, glowing skin. But is juicing the best way to get our vegetables and fruit? Is juice fasting a good way to lose weight? Let’s take a closer look.
The Power of Produce
Vegetables and fruit should make up the bulk of our diets to lower the risk of cancer, diverticulitis, heart disease and stroke. Fresh produce offers a variety of disease-fighting nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals.
Juicing can be a helpful way to meet the recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruit for good health. Fresh juices can help you get more phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals into your diet, especially if you have a small appetite and aren’t able to handle the bulk of fruit and vegetables.
Juice is not a Meal Replacement
While fresh juice is an excellent way to top up on phytochemicals, a juice is not a meal. Juicing removes the fibre from fruits and vegetables, which is needed for a healthy digestive system, to prevent constipation, and to prevent colorectal cancer. Fibre is also essential to help prevent and manage diabetes and heart disease.
Removing the fibre means you are left with only carbohydrates or sugar. Without any fibre, fat or protein to slow it down, this sugar will enter your bloodstream quickly, causing a blood sugar spike. This will trigger a large release of insulin to help the sugar travel into your cells. It is best to avoid these quick rises and drops in blood sugar to maintain your energy levels and for diabetes prevention and weight control.
Juice fasting is not a healthy way to lose weight either. Drinking only juice will prevent you from meeting your protein needs, which could lead to losses of muscle mass rather than fat. Losing muscle will cause your metabolism to slow down, making it even more difficult to lose weight. By consuming only juice, your diet will also be low in important nutrients such as essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B12.
Is eating raw produce or juicing better than cooked vegetables? It depends. When vegetables and fruit are cooked, some of the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C are reduced, but that doesn't mean we should be eating all of our produce raw. There are some nutrients such as lycopene, a phytochemical found in tomatoes, that actually increase with cooking. Because both raw and cooked produce offer health benefits, include both in your diet.
The Smart Way to Experience a Juice Boost
1. Keep the fibre.
Aim to eat 5 servings of whole fruits and vegetables first. Once you meet that goal, you can add juicing as a strategy to get extra servings. Try blending fruit or vegetables into a smoothie rather than juicing to include the fibre.
2. Focus on vegetables.
Make your juices mostly vegetables with some fruit for sweetness to help control calories and sugar.
3. Balance your blood sugar.
Enjoy your juice with some protein and a bit of healthy fat to stabilize your blood sugar and to keep you feeling full for longer. A handful of nuts or a cup of Greek yogurt are great choices!
4. Choose colour.
Choose vegetables and fruit in a variety of colours for a multitude of health benefits.
*Note: Aim for 1 serving of whole cruciferous vegetables/leafy greens per day to reduce cancer risk, but avoid juicing or eating several servings every day as this can cause thyroid problems.
Christy Brissette is a registered dietitian and media spokesperson specializing in nutrition to prevent and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Christy develops, facilitates and researches innovative programs such as cooking classes.