The Promise and Perils of Juicing
Juicing is the process of extracting the fluid content, or liquid part, from plant tissues such as fruit or vegetables. Commercials for juicers show people dropping fruits and vegetables into the device, and a delicious liquid pours out. It's promoted as a way to improve nutrient absorption.
The research doesn't back up the claims. Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. However, fruit and vegetable juices? Not so much. Here's what we know.
For more than 100 years, children are taught, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In one small study, volunteers were given either whole apples or clear apple juice. Then they had things like blood pressure, waist-to-hip ratio, weight and cholesterol measured.
The volunteers who ate the whole apple saw their cholesterol levels drop. The group that drank clear apple juice saw no such benefit.
The researchers pointed out that “Apples are rich in polyphenols and pectin, two potentially bioactive constituents;” But when you juice an apple, those things are separated out and discarded. The researchers believe that the “fibre component is necessary for the cholesterol-lowering effect of apples in healthy humans and that clear apple juice may not be a suitable surrogate for the whole fruit in nutritional recommendations.”
It's an interesting theory. But let's face it, there were only 23 subjects in the study, and it lasted for just five months.
In 2013, one year after that was published, the BMJ released a bombshell report. 187,382 people were followed for an average of 20 years. Three huge and independent studies were combined to determine what was helping people live longer, healthier lives.
In the BMJ study, 12,198 participants developed type 2 diabetes. The risk INCREASED for any participants who regularly drank fruit juice. However, the risk DECREASED significantly for anyone who ate whole fruits.
You read that right. Drinking fruit juices increased the risk of diabetes while eating whole fruit significantly reduced the risk. There are a couple of reasons why this happens.
The typical juicer removes up to 90% of the fiber (seeds and pulp) from whole fruits and vegetables. Some soluble fiber remains, but the majority of insoluble fiber is removed. Juicing advocates claim that removing fiber makes the nutrients easier to absorb.
Unfortunately, removing fiber is precisely the opposite of what we should be doing. Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by an astonishing 40%. Researchers also found fiber can help reduce the incidence of diverticular disease, and it can even help prevent obesity. To get the full benefits of the fruit, the fiber content is critical.
Another problem with juicing fruit is how much you eat. Consider a single medium orange and a 12-ounce glass of orange juice. The whole orange has about 12 grams of sugar. The glass of orange juice has 30 grams of sugar. That's more than half the sugar an average person should eat in an entire day.
When you eat a piece of fruit like an orange, your liver takes a little time to process everything. The fiber slows down digestion. Chewing each piece slows it down some more. Even the act of peeling and separating the slices slows down how fast the sugar in that orange hits your liver.
When you drink a glass of orange juice (or any fruit juice), things are different. The sugar hits the liver more quickly, in greater volume, and your body has less time to process it all. With more sugar coming in and less time to deal with it, your liver turns much of it into fat. Over time, constant sugar shocks to your system induce a condition known as insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is believed to be the fundamental problem in obesity. It's also been implicated in type 2 diabetes, heart disease and may be the underlying trigger for as much as 30% of all cancers.
When fruit is juiced, you're stripping away the healthy fiber, concentrating the sugars, increasing your risk of diabetes and weight gain. It's the exact opposite of what people usually want when they start juicing. Eat fruit whole or mixed in a blender with a protein drink. But don't strip away the health ingredients with a juicer.
What about vegetables? Click Here to learn more about Juicing Vegetables.
Learn More Here:
Intake of whole apples or clear apple juice has contrasting effects on plasma lipids in healthy volunteers - Published: 28 December 2012
Gitte Ravn-Haren, Lars O. Dragsted, Tine Buch-Andersen, Eva N. Jensen, Runa I. Jensen, Mária Németh-Balogh, Brigita Paulovicsová, Anders Bergström, Andrea Wilcks, Tine R. Licht, Jarosław Markowski & Susanne Bügel
European Journal of Nutrition
Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies - Published online 2013 Sep 28. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f5001
Isao Muraki, research fellow, Fumiaki Imamura, investigator scientist, JoAnn E Manson, professor of medicine, Frank B Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology, Walter C Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, Rob M van Dam, associate professor,1,6 and Qi Sun, assistant professor
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on June 2, 2021, gave more details on the benefits of whole fruit over fruit juices.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Western Australia looked into the health of 7,675 adults. The participants in the study were all 25 or older, had undergone blood tests, completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1999-2000 and at the time of the original survey, did not have diabetes.
Fast forward a few years, and the researchers found that participants who ate two servings of fruit a day, but NOT fruit juice, had 36% lower odds of developing diabetes within five years. That's compared to people who ate less than half a serving of fruit a day.
It's important to note, researchers did look to see if fruit juice intake could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and their data showed it did NOT. Just the whole fruit contributed to the 36% drop in risk.
A single serving in the study is 150 grams, about the size of a medium apple, orange or banana.
You can read the original study here: Associations Between Fruit Intake and Risk of Diabetes in the AusDiab Cohort
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