The Benefits of Juicing: A Look at the Latest Fad Diet

Nutrient-dense juice can enhance your diet and your health. Discover the benefits of juicing with this inside look at the latest fad diet.

| May/June 2013

Juicing has blossomed into a major diet craze. In cities throughout the U.S., juice bars have seemingly popped up on every corner. Juice cleanses for detoxification and weight loss are all the rage among celebrities. Big chains like Starbucks have even announced their intention to get in on the action with the launch of a new chain of juice bars. But is juicing really good for us? As with many health fads, juicing is a healthy habit that can go wrong when taken to the extreme. But as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, juicing can offer a major dose of antioxidants and vitamins.

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Juice the Facts, Ma’am

Let’s get right to it: Does juicing offer any real health benefits? Well, imagine sitting down to eat a bowl of raw kale, four celery stalks, a few carrots, an apple, a beet, a lemon and a hunk of ginger. Sound tasty?

We’re not likely to ingest that many raw veggies  and fruits in one sitting, regardless of their health benefits. But if we throw all of these nutritious veggies in a juicer, we get all the vitamins and minerals in a delicious drink we can happily sip anywhere. By extracting most of the plant fiber, the juicing process allows us to get a boatload of nutrients that would otherwise be nearly impossible to consume in one sitting. Of course fiber is also a crucial component of a healthy diet. When sacrificing fiber for the plentiful vitamins and minerals of raw juices, juicing enthusiasts should conscientiously incorporate fiber into their diet throughout the day via whole vegetables, fruits and grains, too. (That rules out juice fasts.)

Is there anything superior to the nutrients from juice versus whole plants? The short answer is no. But incorporating liquid nutrient consumption into your diet may offer some unique benefits: While there is no scientific evidence for the superiority of nutrient or enzyme delivery through juicing, digestion is one of the most energy-consuming functions in the body. In fact, according to Yuri Elkaim, nutritionist and author of Eating for Energy, digesting a meal—especially an unhealthy one—can expend up to 80 percent of our bodies’ energy and take from 24 hours to as long as nine days. “Consider that every time your digestive process is impaired your body can end up spending 80 percent of its energy on digesting the meal that you’ve just eaten,” he writes on his website, “When this occurs the last thing you feel like doing is going for a walk or even being lightly active. How many times have you eaten a meal only to feel tired and lethargic thereafter?”

According to Norman Walker, author of Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices, when we drink raw vegetable juices, “the situation is entirely different as these [micronutrients] are digested and assimilated 10 to 15 minutes after we drink them and they are used almost entirely in the nourishment and regeneration of the cells and tissues, glands and organs of the body…The entire process of digestion and assimilation is completed with a maximum degree of speed and efficiency, and with a minimum of effort on the part of the digestive system.” Supplementing the diet with raw juice and smoothies has anecdotally produced increased energy and tremendous health benefits for many people, but the best evidence is whether it works for you.

12/30/2013 2:16:09 PM

I use some of the pulp (fiber)on my night grain (quinoa, brown rice) to add some spice and flavour.

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