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Fans of the new food fad will tell you how their Nutribullet has changed their life and rave about how much more energy they have. Others have signed up to one of the blossoming home businesses that will supply you with a week’s worth of juices - and will even match them to your health complaints or needs. Feeling tired? They’ve got a juice for that. Want to trim down a little? Yup, adopting a juicing lifestyle can help you with that too, they say.
But there’s also been a backlash, with critics saying that drinking the juice of veggies and fruit – instead of in their whole form – robs the body of potential fibre, and exposes us to more sugar (in the form of fructose) than is healthy. Here’s what the experts have to say about this juicy topic.
The fruit and veg that make their way onto our plates have lower nutrition levels than they did in the past due to over-farmed soil and longer storage and transport periods. Plus stress and our polluted environment mean we need higher levels of antioxidants.
“The truth is that the 5 a day recommendations only scratch the surface when it comes to optimum antioxidant intake. Active people should ideally aim for 8-10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, predominantly vegetables. But that's impractical, which is where juicing comes in,” nutritionist Kyla Williams told The Telegraph.
It’s true that a fruit juice that has been stored in a supermarket for months has little nutritional value his high in sugar. This rapid release of glucose into the bloodstream is what leads to an insulin spike, encouraging fat storage. Instead, look for juices that contain raw, cold, pressed vegetables and low sugar fruits – think: kale, celery, spinach, pear, lemon, and ginger. Also, you want these ingredients to be organic – no point in consuming juice that’s laden with pesticides. If you’re buying them in from a home supplier, the juices should be made fresh every three or four days – you don’t want to fill your fridge with a batch for the whole week. A quality product will also be produced using the whole fruit or vegetable – for example the pith and skin of a watermelon, along with the juicy good stuff inside.
Williams explains that our livers are perfectly designed to rid the body of toxins, and doing a “juice detox” is not magically going to rid our bodies or harmful traces. However, she says your digestive tract can benefit from the “break” a juicing programme of a few days can give it, and will also give it the antioxidants it needs to work optimally. To really detox however, fibre is essential, she warns, so add plenty of whole fruit and veggies to the programme too, she suggests. The action of chewing and digesting a whole product actually burns calories, so by going the juice route you’re depriving yourself of this mini sweat session.
Do it in moderation. "I think it's healthier to eat the food and get the fiber and other things, but there's likely no harm in jump-starting an effort to eat healthfully with a one-day juice regimen,” Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center told The Telegraph.
Choose veggie-heavy juices. Avoid juices high in apple, oranges and other sweet fruits. You ideally want to be consuming veggie juices, not fruit juices. Adding herbs and spices can up the flavour factor and give you unexpected benefits. Ginger, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties.
Go for cold pressed. "A masticating juicer has several advantages: Juice retains more nutrients because fruits and vegetables aren’t shredded with blades, which exposes the produce to air and speeds up oxidation. You get more juice from your produce. A centrifugal juicer doesn't extract as much juice ounce per ounce, and therefore using a masticating model can save you money on produce. When using a masticating model, the juice you end up with retains more pulp. Because of this, pressed juices have more fiber and even a little protein," nutritionist Robyn Youkillis told Men's Fitness.