Chances are that at some point, you’ve heard about (or seen) someone trying to use juicing as part of their health routine. Juicing is currently seen as a good way to eat more fruits and vegetables. This in turn makes juicing seem like a good way to support healthy diet changes for weight loss. The trend is so popular that the global fruit and vegetable juices market was valued at $154 billion in 2016.
Here’s the problem - when it comes to losing weight, juicing just isn’t the right tool for the job. Not only can juicing create concoctions that are more caloric than a full meal, but it’s also been scientifically connected to some serious and unhealthy side effects.
Juicing, as the name implies, extracts the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables. The resulting liquid then contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit. While that sounds great, there is a big difference between drinking these nutrients and eating them. And that difference is the fiber content.
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. Since it’s not digestible, fiber simply travels through our digestive system, absorbing water and easing our bowel movements. It sounds simple and even mundane. But according to research, diets that are higher in fiber have been connected to a multitude of health benefits*, including:
*Note that fiber content alone does not provide these benefits. Rather, eating a high-fiber diet protects health through both the intake of fiber and the consumption of healthy foods that contain other essential nutrients.
Fiber is certainly an important part of a healthy diet. The problem is that our favorite juices frequently lack their original fiber content. This allows the fructose in juice to be absorbed more quickly than the fructose in a whole piece of fruit would be. As a result (unlike when we eat whole pieces of fruit), the fructose in fruit juices counts as ‘free sugars’ - just like honey and the sugars added to foods.
This is especially problematic because sudden spikes in blood sugar (which occur when we consume high levels of fructose) cause the pancreas to release insulin. Our body responds this way in an effort to bring our blood sugar back down to a stable level. Over time, however, this mechanism can “wear out”. This increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes - a disease where the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or has become resistant to it.
As far back as 2013, researchers found that fruit juice consumption is linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. And as if these sugar-related concerns weren’t bad enough, there are other hidden dangers to juicing. The high vitamin content in the average blend (which we wouldn’t experience if we filled up on whole foods) can actually be a bad thing. For example, high vitamin K levels can actually be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications. And high amounts of potassium can be problematic if the juicer has kidney problems.
Research and biology both indicate that juicing, like so many other fad diets, is not a healthy and viable option for individuals looking to make healthy dietary changes. Ultimately, rather than eating one food group or relying on liquid fad diets, it’s best to eat whole, healthy foods. That means lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, as well as complex carbohydrates!
Feeling frustrated about your weight loss efforts? Consider making an appointment to meet with our team. Right Weight Center is a physician-directed medical weight loss program that offers affordable help. We provide straightforward weight loss solutions that help people achieve their weight loss goals. With our board-certified staff, custom plans and FDA approved tools, our team can help you stay focused and achieve your weight loss goals - the right way.
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