Heat.  Barbeques. Patio Dining. Vitamin D. What do these four words have in common? Summertime! Summer is the time when many of us indulge in foods (e.g. ice cream sandwiches, hot dogs) and cool beverages (e.g.  Daiquiris, margaritas, Caesars) that might not be a part of our regular diet or at least not that often! It’s also the time in which people turn to juicing as a “quick-result” diet plan. Juicing is the method in which nutritious juices are removed from fruits and vegetables. Although there are various ways to juice (e.g. hand squeezed or motor-driven), the two main reasons for juicing are to cleanse/detox the body or to supplement a diet. The two most familiar juicers (centrifugal and cold-pressed) both act to extract the juices of fruits and vegetables; however, cold-press juicers crush and press fruits and vegetables gradually with no heat production. This is advantageous over the centrifugal juicer as it reduces the disintegration of important nutrients and enzymes.

 

Most of us are aware that consumption of whole fruits and vegetables are important as there is abundant evidence to support their role with reducing the risk of various diseases. For many of us, the challenge lies in consistently consuming enough fruits and vegetables. Juicing to supplement ones’ diet can be an easy way to increase the intake of various nutrients, but my recommendation is that juices should NOT replace all of your meals (i.e. juicing diet). Why?  Juices, when consumed on its’ own, is not nutritionally balanced – they are limited in two important macronutrients (fat and protein). Depending on what and how much fruit is used, juices can also become high in sugar and calories. Excess sugar and calories not only contributes to weight gain, but can increase the risk of various health conditions (e.g. type 2 diabetes). Fibre is removed with juicing. While the amount of fibre removed depends on the juicer utilized, it can become challenging to meet your daily dietary fibre needs. Protein, fat and fibre can be added to juices, but if inadequate amounts are consumed, individuals run the risk of not meeting their estimated energy and nutrient needs.

 

Juices are often marketed as an avenue to detoxify our bodies to promote healthy intestinal bacteria, weight loss and to enhance energy and metabolism. There is no hard evidence to suggest that juicing is necessary for detoxification. Our bodies are equipped with highly functional organs (the liver, kidney, intestines, and lungs) that work together to remove accumulated toxins from the body. For some individuals (e.g. those who have kidney disease), juicing can actually do more harm than good due to dietary restrictions of certain vitamins and minerals. Short-term weight loss is typically seen with juicing as calorie restriction builds the framework for juice diets. This is typically unsustainable, may reduce your metabolism in the long-term, and there is the potential for macro and micronutrient imbalance - especially when juicing for longer time frames or back to back.

 

Bottom Line: Fresh juices contain essential vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial to the body and can be a convenient way to supplement your diet with fruits and vegetable. Juicing to detoxify the body is not necessary. Instead, focus on consuming a well-balanced diet full of fresh and wholesome foods, engage in regular exercise and limit the consumption of alcohol.

Devika Sharma

Devika is a registered dietitian, and is certified in health and fitness studies. She currently holds a position as a renal dietitian and nutrition consultant for Synaptitude Brain Health and is the founder of One More Bite - a Vancouver-based nutrition consulting company that aims to provide evidence-based dietary information to assist with nutrition impacted diseases. She is a strong advocate for health and nutrition and firmly believes that embracing the concept of moderation contributes to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

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