So, You've been "Juicing"...
So, you’ve been "Juicing"…. Ummm,Congrats?!?!
Juicing has quickly jumped in popularity both in the health conscious community and in the trend seeking folks looking for the latest and greatest diet and fat loss remedies. It seems good for you, too, right? I mean, veggies and fruits in mass quantities….Who couldn’t benefit from more of those? Words like DETOX and CLEANSE…toxins are bad, cleansing is good. So, that has to be good for you!
But is it?
Let’s start with the obvious stuff. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables in a large rainbow of colors is, undeniably, good for you. Plant foods provide phytonutrients that produce an antioxidant effect in the body. Interestingly, they don’t actually have many antioxidants in them, but rather create a slight stress on the body which causes the body to ramp up its own natural antioxidant defense to repair and restore. Think of it like weightlifting for your insides. When you lift to failure, you create a little damage which sends the message for the body to repair even stronger than before; it’s called Hormesis. I like lifting weights… so I really like the idea of my cells flexing their “guns” in little cellular mirrors! But, we can’t just jump on the bandwagon based on this fact alone.
For starters, to do juicing right, all the ingredients would need to be organic. I mean, the whole point is to rid the body of toxins. So, it doesn’t make sense to use mass quantities of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables covered in pesticides, waxes, cleaners, and more. Do you realize how much spinach it takes just to make a shot of spinach juice? If all that was covered in chemicals, it’d be quite a big chemical load at once considering how much you have to use. You would probably never sit and eat that much spinach in one sitting…. And that’s just for a 2 oz shot. This helps us arrive solidly at our next issue: cost. To create an 8 oz glass of juice requires A LOT of produce, and since it has to be organic…. You get where I’m going. The number one complaint we get from people seeking help to get healthier is cost. The amount of produce used in a glass of vegetable juice could make 2 meals! Unless you cheat and use a bunch of fruit, which is exactly what most “juices” are, glorified fruit juice. I’m not hating on fruit here. I love fruit and it is undoubtedly part of a healthy diet, not to mention satisfying and delicious. But, a hit of fruit juice works just like any other hit of sugar to the body. The fiber (the part juicing removes) helps to damper that glycemic effect to some extent when the fruit is eaten whole, but fruit is nature’s dessert and should be consumed as such. Many juices have more calories and sugars than a can of soda (see picture) and that calorie consumption isn’t even registered by the body as food! Eating, in order to be satisfying, is a whole body experience- smelling, tasting, chewing, savoring. Liquid calories surpass many of these necessary experiences that aid satiety and digestion. That’s why you get hungry again so quickly, even though the caloric load was equivalent to a meal. And worse, because the drink is composed almost 100% by carbohydrates (aka sugars), the hunger that strikes is hard, fast, and begs for another hit of sugar. Can you see a vicious cycle starting here?
From an economic and globally responsible standpoint, I simply can’t ignore one more important point; the amount of waste. When you juice fruits and vegetables, all the fiber is left behind as waste. We’re talking about pounds and pounds of wasted food just to make a drink. Meanwhile, children are literally going without meals and no one wants to fork over a little extra money to put something fresh on every lunch plate in every school. I am absolutely guilty of being wasteful, but if you’ve seen how much beautiful, fresh food is used just to make a simple drink… It just seems backwards to me. Of course, a lot of things seem backwards to me.
But maybe, like me, you really enjoy a glass of fresh juice. What’s a health conscious person to do?
Here’s a few ways to make juicing work for you:
- If you must have a liquid meal, go for a smoothie. At least with a smoothie, the whole fruit or vegetable is in there and they often have fats added (like coconut oil, flax, or nut butters) to help them have more staying power.
- When you do juice, go organic. This is a place where it’s definitely worth it to spend the extra money.
- Get the small size and have something else with it. Let the juice serve as a part of a meal… a small part.
- Choose juices that use fruit as an afterthought. Cucumbers and celery make great bases for your juice because they provide volume without all the sugar. See my favorite juice recipe below!
- If, like me, you have your own juicer, please put the waste to good use. Sprinkle it in your potted plants as fertilizer, add it to your compost bin… heck, maybe this natural fertilizer can help you grow your own vegetables and complete the circle!
Becca’s Fave Juicing Recipe
¼ of a green apple
2-3 handfuls of spinach
A wedge of lemon
And a tiny sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt