To juice or not to juice? In the past few years, the craze has swept across the world with more and more people hopping on the juicing bandwagon. There is an almost cult-like following that of people that believe in the health-giving superpowers of liquidized fruit and vegetables. As its popularity grows, it has become increasingly difficult to sort out the difference between the juicing facts and myths.
What is the juicing diet?
Before we get into debunking the myths of juicing, let’s begin by explaining what the juicing diet is. Juicing is the process of squeezing fruit and vegetables to remove the fiber, making juice. Unlike smoothies, which blend the entire fruit, juices do not contain pulp.
While many people include homemade pressed juices in a balanced diet, the juicing detox diet consists of cutting out all food and living on juice for 1-3 days. Sometimes, people juice for up to two weeks.
Juicing health myths
There are more and more juicing “facts” swirling around the internet: Juicing cures cancer! Juicing speeds up metabolism! Juicing helps your body’s healing processes! It would be easy to get swept up in these seemingly remarkable claims and hop on the bandwagon with everyone else. Let’s investigate some of the most common myths about juicing and sort out the fact from the fiction once and for all.
Myth #1: Juicing is great for weight loss
Most people who embark on a juicing diet do so with hopes of shedding a few pounds quickly. It is commonly believed that the diet is able to provide necessary nutrients while drastically reducing calorie intake. To lose weight, the body needs to burn more calories than it takes in.
So, it makes sense that a drastic calorie reduction will result in weight loss, right? Well, sort of.
A juicing detox diet involves a temporary reduction in calorie intake, which usually results in an immediate and drastic loss of weight. A 2017 case study found that most people will lose an average of two pounds after a three-day juice detox. However, as with most fasting-based diets, this weight loss is almost always temporary if you simply revert to what you were doing beforehand.
While a juice diet can provide immediate weight loss results, if you are hoping to see long term changes in your body, it is important to make lifestyle changes. Juicing results in the short term will show weight loss, but the pounds you shed usually come back as soon as the detox is complete.
Myth #2: Juicing is better than eating whole fruit and vegetables
As much as we would love for this to be true, this is frankly just a fallacy.
When you juice fruit and vegetables, 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 #3: Juicing can reduce your risk of cancer
One of the most extreme juicing health myths is that it has the power to prevent or even cure cancer. Many people claim that the antioxidants in juices can help to fight cancerous cells.
There is no evidence to suggest that juice has any real impact on cancer. While antioxidants are great for the body’s overall health, they are simply part of a healthy diet. In fact, it’s usually best to get them from whole fruits rather than from juice.
Juicing is a great way to add extra nutrients to a diet, but it shouldn’t be used to replace fruit and vegetables unless absolutely necessary. For some cancer patients, eating whole fruits and vegetables becomes difficult. They can have trouble swallowing and digesting whole fruits. Juicing is a helpful way to ensure these patients are still getting the nutrients they need.
Myth 4: 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. 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, juicing them is probably not a good idea as it strips foods of magnesium, which people with IBS need as it helps soften stools.
Myth #5: Juicing helps skin problems
Many fans of the juice diet hope their juice will act as a liquid skin elixir. There are hundreds of recipes for juice that will give you glowing youthful, perfect skin. But do these recipes actually work?
Beauty influencers claim that including juices in their diets gives them naturally radiant complexions. They claim that juice provides the body with crucial nutrients that help the body to flush out toxins and build healthier skin cells.
Drinking juice regularly will help provide the skin with more nutrients. However, if you are replacing solid fruits and vegetables with juice, you won’t notice any difference. If you are already eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet, you are already giving your skin all of the possible benefits from these nutrients anyway.
It’s also important to note that fruits and vegetables will never be magic skin-savers. Skin ages over time. The nutrients in juice or whole fruits and vegetables provide the body with the support it needs to keep the skin healthy. This doesn’t mean they have to power to reverse the aging process, but only keep it at its natural rate.
Myth #6 Juicing gives you energy
Claims of superhuman energy levels from juicing are not uncommon. Many juicing fans claim that because the body has to break down whole foods, this takes up energy - if you liquefy these foods, the energy will not be used.
An extreme juice diet can in fact lead to a loss of energy because of the loss of glycogen stores of energy in the body. The body burns through these stores when it fast. This process can result in low blood sugar which can lead to low energy, shakiness, headaches, and fatigue.
If you already suffer from low energy and you hoped juicing might help you, instead make sure you are eating enough fruit and vegetables in your diet. If you are, adding more nutrients to your diet with the occasional glass of juice will help boost your energy by adding healthy sugars into the bloodstream.
Myth #7: Juicing cleanses the body
Many people are attracted to the idea of cleansing and detoxifying the body. We live in an age of air pollution, processed foods, and chemical overload - it’s unsurprising that many feel the need for a cleanse. Celebrities and influencers alike have all proclaimed the cleansing benefits of a juice detox. But how much truth is there in their claims?
The idea behind the term ‘cleanse’ is that by limiting yourself to a diet of juice alone, the rest of the toxins built up inside the body will be released and you will be left with only natural, healthy nutrients. The truth is, the human body detoxifies itself through a natural process, regardless of what you eat or drink. This process occurs in the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.
The body rejects toxins that it can’t physically process already. There is no proof that a juice diet helps or speeds up this natural process. So, the idea that juice cleanses after a weekend full of alcohol and fatty foods will somehow reverse the effects of what you’ve already eaten is a fiction.
Myth #8: There are zero proven health benefits of juicing
While most myths of juicing are about juice’s myriad of superpowers, some myths are more negative. Because there are so many ill-founded claims out there, some people assume that juicing is a complete hoax. You’ve probably heard a few people claiming that there aren’t any proven benefits of juicing.
While many of the fantastical claims are not true, this doesn’t mean there are no health benefits. Freshly pressed juice is one of the healthiest things you can drink. Most beverages have loads of added sugars and preservatives. Fresh juice only contains natural ingredients, making it an excellent alternative to water.
Juice is also very beneficial as it can provide the body with nutrients that it might not be getting from your diet. If you hate eating apples, for instance, but enjoy pressed apple juice, including this juice in your diet will be hugely beneficial.
Most myths about juicing stem from scientific truth - facts about the health benefits of eating a balanced diet are blown out of proportion and re-applied to juicing. While the original facts are not incorrect, they have been exaggerated and endowed with too much power. For instance, yes, drinking juice will give you antioxidants that are found in the fruit, however, this doesn't mean that the juice is better than simply eating it. There is no evidence to suggest that juicing is superior to eating fruit and vegetables in the first place.
This doesn’t mean that drinking juice in moderation is a bad thing. If you include a glass of freshly pressed juice in a healthy, balanced diet, you will infuse your body with more nutrients and you will reap the benefits. However, if you follow a strict juicing diet in the belief that your weight and health will improve, you will likely be disappointed.
As with most things, health and wellbeing is all about being balanced - we recommend consuming a variety of nutrients in moderation. We hope that by clarifying the origin of some of these common juicing health myths, you will be able to make informed decisions that are based on scientific fact.