The Juice on Juicing

photo: ThinkStock via Tri County Health

photo: ThinkStock via Tri County Health

If someone handed you a magic potion that would give you flawless skin, a perfect figure, and a guarantee of impeccable health, would you take it?  Juicing is one of the latest diet crazes that promises all of these things. Terms like “cleanse” and “detox” are thrown in the promotional mix to make people feel that they are doing something “good” for their bodies, to get rid of all of the “bad”.  The documentary “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” touts juicing as that “magic potion”.  Further investigation reveals some nutritional flaws in the argument.

Juicing is the extraction of juice from whole fruits and vegetables.  Consuming only juice eliminates entire food groups and many important vitamins and minerals.  “The Reboot”, the juicing plan based on the documentary, completely eliminates whole grain, dairy, and protein foods.  Result: drastically reduced intake of protein, calcium, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, selenium and other nutrients.

WE NEED PROTEIN!

Fruits and vegetables contain some protein. But the amount of juice needed to meet protein requirements is ridiculously high!  For example, an average 25 year old woman weighing 140 pounds needs at least 51 grams of protein daily. That adds up to 10 cups of kale, 10 cups of spinach and 6 large beets. Your stomach may rebel at the thought.  Low protein intake can cause the breakdown of muscle and other body tissues. Who wants that to happen?

Where’s the fat?  Contrary to popular belief, we need it, and juice has very little. Fats provide essential fatty acids, assist with absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and are a good source of energy when our body needs it. Healthy adults should consume 20-35% of total calories from healthy fats. Day one of the three day juicing plan from “Reboot with Joe” only provides 2% of total calories from fat.  While an extremely low fat intake might not be a big deal for just 3 days, it’s not a good long term diet plan.

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE:

Consuming a diet of only juices is not nutritionally sound and opens the door to unpleasant experiences such as fatigue, headache, constipation, diarrhea, and irritability. With that said, making juice from fresh fruits and vegetables can be a part of a balanced diet. That’s the key: “PART OF A BALANCED DIET.” A couple of examples might be: Combining fresh juice with yogurt or a low fat almond milk, or try a vegetable based juice, warm and eat with a spoon; adding a small sandwich to make it a balanced meal.

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