Juicing has become a huge trend over the past few years. Is it another fad diet or is it actually healthy? A juice cleanse isn’t as simple as just drinking some green juice every day. The juice acts as a meal replacement on days you essentially have to fast.
Here are come drinking juice myths on what juice will not do for you.
Myth 1: Juicing is better than eating whole fruit and vegetables:
This drinking juice myth is one of the biggest reasons people drink juice.
When you juice fruit and veg, the skin, seeds, and pulp are removed. When you blend the same fruit, the seeds, skin, and pulp are still in the drink. Juicing strips the fiber as it is largely in the skin and seeds, and around 10% of the nutrients are left in the pulp which isn’t consumed.
The skin in fruit and vegetables are also full of flavonoids which can help protect against free-radical damage, as well as lowering the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.
While drinking more juice may be beneficial for those who struggle to eat enough fruit and veg, it’s not healthier than simply eating more vegetables. If you need an easier way to consume more fruit and veg, it’s better that you drink a smoothie instead of juice.
Myth 2: Juice is easier to absorb
One of the bigger drinking juice myths is that juice is easier to absorb. Juice takes away a lot of the work our stomach does in physically breaking down food.
Juice is easier to digest, which means that it ends up in the bloodstream quicker than a whole piece of fruit would. For example, an apple ranks lower on the Glycemic Index than apple juice. They’re high in sugar as there’s often a lot of fruit in juices. This means that drinking juice will raise your blood sugar higher and faster than eating a piece of fruit. You’re more likely to experience a sugar rush and crash after fruit juice, than a piece of fruit.
Foods that are easy to digest tend to be low in fiber. Easily digestible low fiber foods are suitable for people who are suffering from flare-ups of conditions like diverticulosis, or IBS, and a temporary solution to nausea and diarrhea. Fiber is the part of food that can’t be digested properly, so for those with these conditions, it can cause gas, constipation, and bloat.
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. There are two types of fiber; soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber dissolves in water whereas insoluble fiber doesn’t. Most fiber-rich foods contain both. Soluble fiber creates a gel as it dissolves which can help slow down digestion and reap more nutrients from food. Insoluble fiber helps digestion by attracting water making stools softer and easier to pass. Both types of fiber can help reduce the risk of diabetes and maintain good gut health overall.
As many vitamins such as A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, the lack of fat in juice means these vitamins are not as well absorbed.
Myth 3: A juice cleanse is good for IBS
There’s no research to suggest that drinking juice is good for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Generally, a Low Fodmap diet is prescribed for those with IBS. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These foods can cause more gas and increase fluid retention in the bowel. A low FODMAP diet is low in:
- Lactose, ie. dairy products
- Fructose in fruits such as apples, cherries, pears, and watermelon and high fructose corn syrup
- Sweeteners like honey and agave nectar as well as sugar alcohols like maltitol, isomalt,, and sorbitol
- Vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, garlic, and onion
- Grains like wheat and rye
- Added fiber such as inulin
- Soy, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans
While there are plenty of low FODMAP fruit and vegetables such as carrots, bananas, oranges, and cucumbers, people with IBS find it difficult to find juice recipes that are entirely low FODMAP.
Myth 4: drinking juice is good for weight loss
While you do actually lose weight on a juice cleanse, it’s only temporary.
The only way to safely lose weight and keep the weight off is to have a healthy balanced diet and an active lifestyle. However juice cleanses are appealing because they offer a quick fix.
To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. The best way to go about this is to eat healthy nutrient-rich foods and burn off the calories by exercising, not to severely restrict your calorie intake.
Juice cleanses are very low in calories, and tend to stay below 1,000 calories per day, which is unsustainable.
The average Basic Metabolic Rate for American women is 1,400 calories and 1,800 for men. Your BMR is the number of calories you need to stay alive. This doesn’t take into account the number of calories you need to move, exercise, and perform everyday tasks, it’s the bare minimum needed to keep your body functioning if you’re sedentary. This is why the average amount of calorie intake per day is 2,000-2,500 because it takes into account the fact that we also need the energy to move around.
As there’s no protein in juice you also lose muscle mass and water weight. When we lose muscle our metabolism also slows down which makes it easier to gain weight after the cleanse is over. As muscle burns more calories than fat, when you lose the muscle mass you burn fewer calories throughout the day as before which causes weight gain.
As you are missing out on these macronutrients you’re more likely to binge eat as the low-calories will make you hungrier.
Myth 5: drinking juice should stop your period
One of the most dangerous drinking juice myths is that losing your period, if you’re not pregnant is a good thing. This myth is particularly prevalent on social media, with some users sharing that periods are a sign that your body is full of “toxins”.
A regular period is a sign that your body is functioning as it should. Period blood is actually the cleanest blood in the body as it’s role is to nourish a developing fetus, which is why it’s shed once a month when you’re not pregnant. Some contraceptives will stop a period however, naturally losing your period as a result of diet change is a worrying sign.
In fact, amenorrhea is a very common symptom of eating disorders such as anorexia and orthorexia. When the body goes into starvation mode, it prioritizes essential functions. So non-essential functions such as reproduction are the first go to.
It should also go without saying, that juice cleanses are not safe if you’re pregnant. As you need to nourish both yourself and your growing baby. In fact, pregnancy is not the time to try to lose weight at all.
Myth 6: Drinking juice detoxes your digestive system
The overarching drinking juice myth is that it detoxes your body.
Our bodies naturally detox. If you have a healthy digestive system, you don’t need to “help it” with juice cleanses or detox teas. Even if you don’t have great digestive health, the first port of call should be to see a doctor, not try to fix it with juice.
Our body has its own detox system. Our liver is essentially a filter as it produces metallothioneins which are proteins found in the kidneys. These proteins help to metabolize minerals like copper and zinc, as well as neutralizing heavy metals such as mercury and lead so they can be safely removed from the body. Our kidneys filter out waste in our urine while holding onto the nutrients that we need. The small intestine is full of lymph nodes which catch foreign bodies and parasites before our colon absorbs nutrients. Overall, our immune system recognizes threats and foreign bodies and deploy mechanisms to remove them from our bodies.
The bottom line
If you struggle to have 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day, try drinking more smoothies or juices, however, going on a full-blown juice cleanse doesn’t have any proven health benefits. These drinking juice myths are six things juice won’t do for you, and that’s a good thing because we don’t need to juice cleanse.