Is juicing actually good for you?

Juicing has become an extremely popular health trend in recent years. Many claim that drinking fresh, raw fruit and vegetable juices can provide a concentrated dose of nutrients, promote weight loss, boost energy levels, and more. But is juicing truly as healthy as its proponents claim? Let’s take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of juicing.

Pros of Juicing

There are several potential benefits associated with juicing:

Increased Nutrient Intake

Juicing extracts the juices from fresh fruits and vegetables, leaving behind the fiber. This allows you to consume a large amount of micronutrients in their liquid form. Depending on the produce used, juices can contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds like carotenoids.

For example, one glass of beet, carrot, and apple juice can provide:

  • Vitamin C: 50% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 120% of the RDI
  • Iron: 25% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 20% of the RDI

Juicing makes it easy to ingest a variety of fruits and veggies, allowing you to reach the recommended daily intake of nutrients and phytochemicals.

Supporting Weight Loss

Some people use juicing as a way to reduce calorie intake for weight loss. Replacing high-calorie foods and beverages with nutrient-filled juice can lead to a reduction in overall calories.

One study in 24 overweight adults found that replacing two meals per day with low-calorie vegetable juice over a 12-week period led to significantly more weight loss than a control group.

Group Weight Loss
Juice group 5.9 kg (13 lbs)
Control group 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)

However, simply adding juice as a complement to your regular diet is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss.

Supporting Digestion

Lack of fiber can contribute to constipation for some people. The fiber content of juice is very low since the pulp is removed during the juicing process.

However, the high water content in most fruits and vegetables helps add fluid to your digestive tract. This can soften stool and promote regular bowel movements.

One study found that giving nursing home residents with constipation either fresh orange juice or a placebo significantly increased bowel movements only in the group receiving the orange juice.

Juice can play a role in relieving mild constipation, but only if you aren’t getting enough fluid from other sources.

Easy to Absorb

The juicing process breaks down fruits and vegetables into tiny particles, almost like a pre-digested food. This makes nutrients easier for your body to absorb.

After juicing, the liquid contains easily absorbed micronutrients that make their way into your bloodstream to be used by your cells. In comparison, the nutrients in whole fruits and veggies have to move through your digestive system first before being broken down and absorbed.

For those with certain digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, juices may be easier to digest and less likely to aggravate symptoms.

May Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is believed to be the underlying cause of many diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The fruits, vegetables, and herbs used in juices are filled with antioxidants that may help fight inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in your body.

One study found that drinking juices made from beets, apples, and carrots for two weeks reduced inflammatory markers in overweight and obese people.

Cons of Juicing

Although juicing has some health benefits, there are also some downsides to be aware of.

Less Filling Than Whole Foods

Juicing extracts the liquid from fruits and vegetables, leaving the pulp and fiber behind. As a result, juices are much less filling than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

Fibers play an important role in appetite regulation by slowing digestion and release of sugars into the bloodstream. This helps keep blood sugar stable and prevents hunger and cravings.

The liquid form of juice means you can easily consume a large amount of sugar very quickly. Drinking sugary juices could lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can increase hunger.

Potential Sugar Spike

Even with only natural sugar from fruit, juice still contains a lot of sugar without the nutrients and fiber found in whole fruit:

Food Total Sugars
1 cup (240 ml) apple juice 24 grams
1 large apple 19 grams

Fruit juice can contain just as much sugar and calories as a sugary soda. Be mindful of portion sizes when drinking juice, especially if you have diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

May Contribute to Overeating

Liquids pass through your stomach more quickly than solid food, which can decrease feelings of fullness and lead to overeating.

One study found that drinking a glass of water with a meal decreased calorie intake by 75 calories. However, drinking juice with a meal increased calorie intake by up to 119 calories.

If you choose to include juicing in your routine, try drinking the juice as a snack between meals rather than with meals to prevent overeating.

May Lack Protein

Most fruit and vegetable juices lack protein, an essential nutrient. A protein intake below 15–20% of total daily calories may compromise muscle mass over time.

Vegetable-based green juices often provide a small amount of protein, but fruit-based juices contain barely any.

Make sure to incorporate other protein sources like nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, or seafood into your diet if you drink juice regularly.

Not a Long-Term Solution

Drinking pre-made juices long-term is very expensive. Making your own juice at home requires you to invest in a good juicer, purchase large amounts of produce, and spend time juicing every day.

Most studies on juicing did not evaluate effects beyond 12 weeks. The time, cost, and adjustment required makes it difficult to stick to juicing diets long-term.

Juicing may be best suited as a short-term cleansing regimen or quick health boost lasting 3–7 days rather than a permanent diet.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating some juicing into your diet can provide beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals. However, juices lack protein and fiber and may spike blood sugar.

Enjoy juices in moderation alongside protein sources and whole fruits and vegetables for the best health results. Juicing works best for short-term regimens lasting 3–7 days.

Keep portion sizes reasonable since juices are not very filling, and avoid substituting juices for meals whenever possible.

Overall, juicing can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet for most people when done right.

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