Juicing and juice fasting can be a really healthy way to fill your body with nutrients and kickstart your health (especially in the new year after all those cookies!), but there are a lot of misconceptions about juicing out there. Let’s clear some of those up, shall we?
Myth: Everyone should drink a juice every day.
While a good green juice has tremendous nutritional merit, not every juice is good for every person. You need to be very careful about which foods you juice, especially if you have blood sugar issues. Drinking only high sugar fruit juices—orange, mango, pineapple, apple—will cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket. It’s just too much sugar and there is no fiber, fat or protein to slow its absorption into the bloodstream.
If you are trying to have a healthier, cleaner body, limit fruit juices and focus on greens. While a little less tasty, drinking green juices cut with a small amount of fruit fill the body with nutrients with throwing off blood sugar. Hint: tossing in a little apple or carrot and half a lemon is great for giving the illusion of sweetness.
(Another cautionary note: those with thyroid issues should be aware that juicing raw cruciferous veggies, like kale, can impede iodine absorption and harm thyroid function. The thyroid-concerned should always lightly steam these greens before juicing, or choose other veggies.)
Myth: I can make juice in my Vitamix, right?
Your Vitamix cannot make juice. I know there are those out there who believe that the Vitamix can do anything and everything. I mean, it could probably grind your smartphone into a fine pulp if you wanted it to. But there is one thing it absolutely cannot do. It can’t make juice. When people are putting fruit and greens into their high speed blender and calling it a morning juice, this is inaccurate.
A Vitamix is a very powerful blender, which means it leaves the fiber intact and makes smoothies. A juicer filters out the fibrous pulp, which means it makes juice. Your Vitamix can make a killer smoothie, sure, but not juice. Juicers and blenders are different.
Myth: Isn’t fiber good? Wouldn’t a smoothie be healthier than a juice?
Yes, fiber is great and we all need it, however most of us get plenty of fiber through our consumption of grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds throughout the day. Fiber isn’t a difficult thing to get more of. But there are benefits to consuming something as nutrient-rich as a juice.
Since a juice has no fiber, its nutrients are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream and utilized in the body upon consumption rather than having to slog through the long digestive process. Smoothies are great and fiber-rich, but they are more of a meal and require digestion.
Consider a green juice more like a really tasty, energizing supplement. You don’t skip out on breakfast because you took a multivitamin, right? So don’t skip out on a healthy, fiber-rich diet just because you had a green juice this morning. Although they are often lumped into the same category, smoothies and juices serve totally different purposes.
Myth: Juice fasts are silly because our digestive system doesn’t need a break.
There is the argument that the human body doesn’t really need a break from the digestive process; there are few benefits to going without solid food for a handful of days. On the other hand, juice advocates claim a juice cleanse allows your digestive system to take a break and for your body to focus on other housekeeping tasks that generally get swept under the rug. So who is right?
They both are, kind of. The human body is an incredible organism. It is designed to multitask—to digest and detox at the same time. We really don’t need a juice cleanse to kickstart detoxification. But, juice cleanses can load our bodies with plant foods that assistthe liver in detoxification, which is important. And since most of us are overloading our digestive system with constant snacking, unnatural foods, too few veggies and poor chewing practices, allowing the digestive system to catch up and reset isn’t a bad idea either.
That’s right. The vast majority of us are not chewing food thoroughly. So who do you think has to pick up the slack? The rest of the digestive system. Chewing is the first step of digestion, but most of us are doing a pretty bad job of it. If you are chewing your food thoroughly with each bite, your digestive system probably isn’t working on overdrive and doesn’t really need a break. But since most of us don’t chew properly, short, veggie-intensive juice fasts can actually have a beneficial effect on the body by giving the overcompensating digestive system a breather to reset.
Our bodies are incredible, but they are not infallible. A rest is never a bad thing. So go ahead, do that 7 day juice cleanse. But do it healthily, and make sure that you use it as a lifestyle kickstart to encourage healthier habits rather than a cure-all to atone for your dietary sins of last year.
Myth: Bottled juices are as healthy as fresh, just more convenient.
Unless the juice is cold-pressed in a vacuum and never touches oxygen, all fresh juices begin to break down immediately upon juicing due to oxidation. So the sooner you drink it, the more nourishing it will be. Does that mean your bottled juice is nutritionally worthless? Probably not, but if you have the option of getting one that is fresh, you’ll be rewarded with a peak product that is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and more.
Once you’ve finished your imminent New Year cleanse, whatever it may be, keep up with the juicing. Drinking a veggie-heavy juice everyday is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, since most of us don’t eat nearly enough plants. That doesn’t give you an excuse to ditch whole veggies, though. Keep eating veggies, whole and juiced, and you’ll notice an immediate and stark improvement in your health and overall energy levels.