To juice or not to juice, that is the question. While some say juicing is the second coming, I say it’s a trend that’s best embraced lightly. Although it might surprise you, I think of a tall glass of fresh-pressed veggies and fruit as an occasional treat — like an indulgent dessert — rather than an everyday lifestyle choice.
As with most quick-fix health crazes, there are always at least a few downsides to consider, so here’s some food for thought to help you consider how to juice smarter — or whether to do it at all:
Your Juice Is a Sugar Bomb
Most bottled juices have enough sugar to stand toe-to-toe with a can of Mountain Dew. It doesn’t matter if they’re organic and refrigerated or conventional and off the shelf. Juices made from fruit as well as veggies like beets and carrots can add up to liquid dessert that can send you on a blood-sugar roller coaster. Granted, with some very fresh, minimally processed juiced drinks, you’ll get some quickly absorbed nutrients, but the sugar spikes and troughs that come with the package aren’t worth the ride.
Juicing Is a Fiber-free Zone
Juiced fruits and veggies are virtually fiber-free — all that good fiber gets left behind in the base of the juicer and tossed out. That’s a problem because fiber helps boost gut health and facilitates waste removal. Although some think of juicing as a digestive aid, many people on juice cleanses often have a problem with constipation!
You’re Going to Get Hungry – Quick
OK, so we’ve established your juice has a ton of sugar and not a lot of fiber. It’s also missing fat and protein, both of which are key to feeling satiated. Without fat, protein and fiber to fill your belly and signal to the brain that you’re done eating, you’re going to get mighty hungry, mighty fast.
Your Juice Doesn’t Have Long to Live
How fresh is that bottled juice? The ‘sell-by’ date will certainly give you a clue, but it’s not going to tell you how potent the nutrients in the bottle still are. Unfortunately, the nutrients that you hope to imbibe with every sip start degrading the moment they are exposed to light and air. In other words, if that drink has been sitting on your desk all afternoon, you may be getting far fewer antioxidants than you think.
Lots of Food…But Not a Lot of Juice
Not to get up on a soap box, but taking an armload of food that could feed a small family and pulverizing it down to liquid form is, to say the least, wasteful. To be a bit kinder to the earth, you might want to consider eating the majority of your produce instead of juicing it.
BE WELL SOLUTIONS
In a perfect world, I’d say lay off the juices and eat as much whole food as possible. However, if decide you are going to drink a juice, below are some tips to follow:
Make it yourself! That way, you can control the ingredients, portion size, sugar content and freshness. When juicing, be sure to:
- Skip high-sugar fruits (e.g., pineapples, mangos, bananas, etc.).
- Go heavy on greens.
- Use lemons, limes, green apples, ginger, mint and turmeric to add guilt-free flavor.
- Keep in mind that juicing for weight-loss or detox is not a healthy approach, nor is it sustainable. Instead, try an elimination diet or try our nutrient-rich, no-starvation-required Be Well Cleanse.
If you’re buying an off-the-shelf juice drink, read the label:
- Check how many servings there are per bottle. Some bottles have two to three servings, and you can wind up drinking far more sugar than you intended.
- Check the grams of sugar per serving. If it’s more than 6 grams, skip it altogether or cut some of the juice with seltzer or water.
- Check the grams of fiber. Many bottled juices — even the high-end organic ones — have none at all, which is bad news for your body, particularly if you’re trying to keep blood sugar stable.
- Be sure the drink is made with certified organic, minimally processed ingredients.
If you’re ordering at a juice bar, be sure to:
- Look for organic ingredients, so your drink is as free of chemical pesticides as possible.
- Ask the barista not to sweeten your drink with fruit juices like apple, orange, grape, etc.
- If you prefer a sweeter drink, add a little stevia or touch of raw honey.
To blend up a healthy, green ‘juice’ at home, try this delicious Green Juice ‘Mojito’ recipe.