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The Skinny on Juicing

July 31, 2013 | Christie Carlson

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Juicing is a popular trend in dieting these days. But with all of its promises as a health solution, is it really all it's cracked up to be? Some registered dietitians and doctors seem to think not.

Advocates of juicing claim that it cleanses the body of harmful toxins, but Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor at Boston University, points out that we already have an amazing detoxifier in our bodies—our livers.

Going out of your way to rid your body of toxins by limiting your food intake is redundant. A better way to cleanse your body is to increase your water intake and eat more fruits and vegetables in lieu of processed and junk foods, says Stella Volpe, a professor and chair of the department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University.[1]

If you truly want to rid yourself of gunk building up in your body, take a hard look at what you're eating on a daily basis. Eat fresh, whole foods and drink lots of water, and you will feel more energized and healthier in no time.

Another issue with juicing is the healthy fiber you lose out on. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which help with satiety, the feeling of being full. If you remove the fiber by juicing your fruits and veggies, you probably won't feel full and you'll be more likely to want to eat something later, says registered dietitian Rachel Griehs.[2]

Fruits and some vegetables also contain large amounts of sugar. It's not refined, like white sugar, but it's sugar nonetheless. In my experience as a personal trainer and a strength and conditioning coach, clients on juice fasts are easily fatigued and rather grouchy. Much of their fatigue and irritability is the result of a lack of necessary calories, while a part of it is due to blood insulin spikes and subsequent drops they experience due to subsisting mainly on fructose (the sugar found in fruit).

One last thing to worry about with juicing is the freshness of the juice. Juice that has been sitting around for too long can be an excellent place for bacteria to grow, and it can make you sick. Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer K. Nelson suggests making only as much as you can consume in one sitting, and if you buy your juice at the store, choosing a pasteurized brand.[3]

Many nutrition experts agree that replacing all or most of your daily nutrition with juice is a recipe for disaster. It can make you tired and irritable, and although you may lose a few pounds, you're likely to gain them back as soon as you begin eating whole foods again.

There is one upside to juicing. If you don't enjoy eating fruits or veggies, many of the experts I checked out agree that consuming them in juice form is better than not eating them at all.

[1] Chan, A. (2011, March 23). 5 experts answer: Is there such thing as a healthy juice cleanse?. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/35561-5-experts-answer-juice-cleanse.html

[2] Roncace, K. (2013, May 2). N.J. nutritionists weigh in on the pros and cons of juicing. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/indulge/index.ssf/2013/05/area_nutritionists_weigh_in_on.html

[3] Nelson, J. K. (n.d.). Is juicing healthier than eating whole fruits or vegetables?. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/juicing/AN02107

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Christie Carlson
- Christie Carlson is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a personal trainer. She earned her Master of Science degree in Exercise and Sports...
Christie Carlson
- Christie Carlson is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a personal trainer. She earned her Master of Science degree in Exercise and Sports...
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