Juicing is a common method of consuming nutrients without having to eat large amounts of fruit or vegetables. You may juice in a variety of ways, including by hand, although juicing is often easier with special machines that separate the juice from the “roughage.” However, the fruit or vegetable roughage left behind in the form of skin, seeds and pulp contains beneficial nutrients, especially fiber. Furthermore, fruit juice contains a fair bit of sugar and can provide the medium for bacterial growth. Juicing certainly has its benefits, but there are also some negatives to consider.
Juicing involves extracting mainly the liquid from fruit and vegetables, which is in contrast to blending them together to make a smoothie. Depending on the types of fruit or vegetable you juice, fresh juice is usually rich in at least a few vitamins, minerals or antioxidants, which are easily absorbed because they are in liquid form. Drinking only fresh juice for a few days is a relatively common method of fasting and is thus often referred to as a “juice fast.” Those who juice fast claim it’s an effective method of detoxifying tissues, especially the liver and kidneys, although there currently is no scientific research to support this claim.
Convenient and Nutritious
Getting lots of essential nutrients, without having to chew on any fibrous material, is an obvious benefit of juicing. In a sense, fresh squeezed juice is like an extract of the fruit or vegetable, which has concentrated vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and sometimes even enzymes, as is the case with pineapple and papaya juice. A variety of juices may be easily mixed for enhanced flavor and to attain the full-spectrum of nutrients. Juice is also easy to transport in a container, especially for busy people on the go.
Lack of Dietary Fiber
Although fresh juice contains numerous nutrients, it’s relatively devoid of dietary fiber, which people usually discard after juicing the fruits and vegetables. Dietary fiber is the term for both soluble and insoluble forms of fiber. Soluble fiber, such as pectin, is important for health because it makes you feel full longer and it helps to control glucose and cholesterol levels in your blood. Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose, bulks up the stool, cleans out the large intestine and promotes regular bowel movements. A high-fiber diet is linked to reduced risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer, according to “Public Health Nutrition.” Without fiber, the high fructose content of some fruit juices, such as apple juice, can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and insulin release.
Concern for Raw Juice
Eating raw produce and drinking fresh juice are arguably the best methods of getting the most nutrients from fruit and vegetables, but there is always a slight risk of contamination. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, juicing can lead to food-borne illness such as E. coli bacterial infection. Fresh juice is not pasteurized, which is a high-heat process meant to kill potentially pathogenic microorganisms. On the other hand, opponents of pasteurization claim the method also destroys many nutrients and friendly bacteria. Washing produce thoroughly and drinking juice immediately after it’s made can minimize the risk of contamination.
- Nutritional Sciences for Human Health; Stanislas Berger et al.
- Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism; James L. Groff et al.
- Public Health Nutrition: From Principles to Practice; Mark Lawrence and Tony Worsley
- Textbook of Functional Medicine; David S. Jones
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.