The Juicing Craze: What's Wrong Here?

Juicing is the all the rage these days. There are juice shops on every corner and everyone's going on a juice cleanse. But these cleanses are not all they are cracked up to be and juicing may not be the best thing for you. Here's why:

1) Less Fiber = More Sugar

The beautiful thing about a piece of fruit is the way the fiber, the sugar (fructose), and the nutrients work in harmony to create a perfect food. Unfortunately juicing a piece of fruit removes a key part of that perfection: the fiber. Fiber is immensely valuable for regularity, digestion, and feelings of fullness. In addition, the fibrous parts of many fruits are the skin and the pulp, which are also where the carotenoids and flavonoids reside (these are healthy parts!) and they are stripped in the juicing process as well. Because fiber is key in slowing down your digestion when you eat fruit, removing it speeds everything up and your body is left to quickly digest a concentrated amount of sugar. Without the fiber, this sugar gets absorbed quickly causing a massive spike in blood fructose levels, and your liver is left to deal with that burden alone. Because your liver can't process it that quickly, a lot of that fructose will end up as stored body fat. This can have obvious long-term implications- all because we are missing our friend, fiber!

2) What about Protein?

Yes, leafy greens can be a good source of protein, but when it comes to juicing, that's about as close to protein as you are going to get! Protein is an important and necessary part of our diet and juice cleanses all but remove it. Protein is the primary way our bodies build and repair tissue. Without it, we subject ourselves to all sorts of problems including feeling dizzy and weak, a decreased immune system, hair loss, and even increased sugar cravings! None of which sounds very good for you.

3) Healthy Fat Please

The other big deficit to our diet from juicing is healthy fats. Fats are also vital to our body's proper functioning for a number of reasons, including transport of fat soluble vitamins (those are Vitamins A, D, E, and K). These vitamins play major roles in our hormonal system our bone health, and our nervous system. So, depleting your body of these vitamins can wreak havoc on your system. And, of course, that is exactly what you are doing on a juice cleanse.

4) Setting up the Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo Dieting is the all too common phenomenon of frequently losing and gaining weight. This is often a result of individuals going on and off of diets, and juice cleanses are no different. Many people do juice cleanses as a means of weight loss or as a way to start off a diet. But, like most diets, juice cleanses are not a great way to keep weight off. Yes, you may lose a few pounds but what is going to happen when you get off the juice cleanse? The same thing that happens when you go off the diet- you gain it back. In addition, because juice cleanses can be VERY calorie restrictive (sometimes as low as 800 calories a day), they can slow down your metabolism over time and cause even more weight gain. When it comes to weight loss and dieting, moderation is the key, and there is nothing that resembles moderation in a juice cleanse.

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5) Where's the Science

You may hear a lot about the value of juice cleanses, but the fact is that there is no real scientific evidence to back it up. Juice cleanses are often touted as a way to "detox" your body, but your body has a built-in detoxification system, that is our liver, intestines, and kidneys. We don't really need help in this area. If you are trying to "detox" from a period of bad eating or drinking, you can simply detox with good eating and drinking! Anything else you may have heard about juice cleanses (improves digestion, helps you focus, makes you a superhero) is solely anecdotal and there is no science backing it up. However, science does back up healthy eating, exercise, and relaxation as a way to achieve all of those benefits!

To sum up, juicing is just not all it's cracked up to be. However, there is nothing wrong with having juice every now and then. It's best to have it fresh and very vegetable heavy. If you do want to focus on fruits, opt for a smoothie instead of a juice. Smoothies still retain the fiber and skin of the fruit upping the fiber content and slowing down your sugar absorption, while making you feel fuller. A much healthier alternative to juice!