You Asked: Is juicing healthy?
It’s a new year full of new possibilities—and for the majority of society—January is a month focused on healthier living. Juicing has become a staple in many households as an easy way to consume more fruits and vegetables and detox the body while shedding those extra holiday pounds. But, while an all-juice diet may make you a healthy eating trendsetter, it may actually do your body more harm than good.
Dietary guidelines recommend eating seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day and our busy schedules often don’t leave time for the meal prep our bodies deserve. “The biggest benefit of juicing is it’s a way to squeeze more fruits and vegetables into our diet,” said Lisa Mallonee, BSDH, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietician and associate professor in the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.
Juice cleanses are heralded across different health channels as a great way to detoxify the body. Mallonee stressed juicing to cleanse your body is actually a complete myth. “This can be dangerous,” she said. “Our bodies already have built in detox systems: the kidneys and liver. Instead of treating juicing as a ‘cleanse’ we need to eat a more balanced diet. Start by eliminating sugar, refined carbs and processed foods and cleanse in that perspective. Modification of our unhealthy habits is the most important change we can make.”
Juicing separates the fiber of fruits and vegetables from the juice, and this fiber is essential to increase satiety and regulate our blood glucose levels. When fiber is missing, there is greater fluctuation in blood sugar levels. “This is why so many people gain weight after trying a juice ‘cleanse’,” Mallonee said. “Since juicing does not fill you up, people tend to overeat later in the day.”
According to Mallonee, juicing should be limited to one meal per day. “It’s extremely unhealthy to treat juicing as a replacement for every meal,” she said. “In fact, it’s recommended that you consume no more than 8 to 10 ounces of blended produce per day. With juicing, you are losing the pulp of fruits and vegetables—this means vital nutrients your body needs are lost in the juicing process.”
“If we’re looking at juicing from an oral health perspective it can also be harmful to the teeth,” Mallonee added. “Mastication and the act of chewing our food is important. Daily juicing can actually be erosive on your teeth. The acidity of fruits and vegetables increases when liquefied. The cleansing action of whole foods is important for the disruption of plaque biofilm on the teeth..”
Juicing for weight loss has become one of the most popular health trends, but Mallonee warned that juice diets can be counter-productive to your weight loss goals. “Juicing is certainly a better alternative to fast food but it isn’t necessarily considered ‘low-calorie’,” she said. “It is recommended combining a 3-to-1 ratio of vegetables to fruits when juicing, but often that ratio is swapped. Fruit juice is a much more concentrated source of calories and sugar.”
Mallonee said the biggest takeaway for those who juice to lose weight is to remember juicing won’t fix bad food choices. “You can’t solve a lifetime of mistakes in a short time frame,“ she said. “When people try these juicing diets they often return to old habits once the diet is over. Society needs to understand that you don’t lose fat cells, you only reduce them in size. And, when normal habits resume, they come back, bigger and better than ever–resulting in extra, unwanted pounds. Using juicing as a magic bullet won’t make you healthy—only a lifestyle change can do that.”