Just the facts. From the experts.

Juicing is a popular approach to getting your diet back on track, and it's certainly a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into the diets of picky eaters! But is it actually healthy? While no one can dispute that adding fruits and veggies to your meals is a win, registered dietitian, Judy Barbe, explores the benefits and the watch-outs of this interesting and delicious trend. 

 Judy Barbe, MS, RDN

Registered dietitian, Judy Barbe, gave us the skinny on juicing and here’s what she had to say. Notice, we've put all the benefits in blue, and all the watch-outs in red.

A glass of liquid crimson. A glass of goodness. Tart, sweet, fresh … can’t you just taste it?

That glass of juice can close the gap if you fall short on eating fruits and vegetables. But there is more hype to the benefits of juicing than proven results.

Juicing and cleanses - these hot topics are touted by celebrities as a way to reset your body, shrink your stomach, and get rid of toxins. While these diets may work in the short-term, they can be challenging to stick to and the weight will likely return.

Juices squeezed from fresh foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals but what’s missing is the fiber and skin. Fiber slows digestion. So, with no fiber, the quicker the juice sugars enter the blood stream and bam! – a spike in blood sugar. Those spikes aren’t good because your energy crashes when the blood sugar falls.

Fiber’s a good thing because it helps maintain a healthy digestive tract, reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer and helps maintain blood sugar levels and weight. Fiber serves as a scrub brush to move things through your system. Yet, nearly all of us fall short of meeting fiber recommendations. Men need about 38 grams per day and women need 25 grams.

Another juicing watch-out is that most juice recipes don’t include protein or fat. These are powerful components that help you feel fuller and sustain your energy longer so you’re able to put your best foot forward. Juicing results in a high-carb, low-fiber, low-protein meal that can leave you feeling hungry, moody, depressed, irritable, dizzy, constipated and weak.

Some people use a juice cleanse as a way to reboot their eating habits by stepping away from processed foods and refocusing their eating on whole food. But it's important to remember that our bodies are already in a constant state of cleanse. A significant role of the skin, liver, kidneys and colon is cleansing by regulating and removing waste and toxins from the body.

In a starvation diet, water and protein are the first things to go. So, while weight loss is likely, so is loss of lean body mass. Protein is the building block of muscle. By omitting protein, your body will use the only source available – your muscle mass. With less muscle, your metabolism slows down so you become less efficient at burning calories.

Unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding, diabetic or taking certain medications, such as high blood pressure pills, it’s unlikely that a few days of juice will cause harm. As a registered dietitian, I’m not a fan of diets that you go “on” and “fall off.”  They don’t support normal eating - what, where, when and how much to eat.

The bottom line: Juicing can be an interesting way to boost fruit and vegetable intake and can be part of a healthy eating style that also includes water, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy and whole fruits and vegetables.  A beet – ginger –cucumber – apple blend may taste delicious but healthy eating is healthy eating, not just drinking.

Judy Barbe has been bringing realistic nutrition solutions to tables since 1992. She is a nutrition communications consultant at LiveBest and serves as a food thought leader, stimulating an informed conversation about nutrition, health, and agriculture.

What color are your favorite fruits and vegetables?

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