Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear about one, or several, of the common misconceptions about juicing. Unfortunately, they often come directly from health professionals, such as registered dietitians or doctors, thus making it very confusing for the general public to understand what’s right or wrong. I’m going to directly quote a few of these false assertions and then respond to each of them with facts.
Misconception #1: “Juicing is not a good idea because it removes most of the fibre.”
FACTS: Juicing removes the majority of insoluble fibre while retaining soluble fibre and, most importantly, an abundance of nutrients and enzymes that can more easily enter the bloodstream.
If you are on a proper whole foods plant-based diet, you can easily consume a few juices per day and still DOUBLE the 25-38 grams of fibre that dieticians typically recommend. Just a cup of lentils on its own provides you with 59g of fibre (235% of the recommended daily value), and only 678 calories. If the remaining 1000+ of your calories have just 16g of fibre you will have tripled your recommended fibre intake. So just by looking at the math, the concerns about not getting enough fibre are for people on poor, animal-heavy diets. The rest of us are quite alright and we don’t ever need to discuss how to get enough fibre from our diets. In fact, if you have this concern you probably have bigger problems that require a more complete examination of your food choices. When it comes to drinking juices, the more of the tough fibre we remove the better it is for our digestive system and overall health. In fact, even people with extremely weak digestive systems- and more likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies- can digest and absorb the nutrients in a properly prepared juice. Furthermore, resting our digestive system with a one day per week juice fast is an excellent way to maintain good health.
One final point that I will touch on briefly is the fact that digestion of whole foods, especially plant-based, begins in the mouth- this is why it is so important to chew our vegetables well. Even if we blend our produce into a smoothie, the fact that all the fibre is still present challenges our digestion and absorption of nutrients. On the other hand, a well strained juice with less fibre allows our digestive system time to rest, and it contains a significantly higher amount of nutrients. The rule of thumb I tell my clients is as follows: drink juices, chew whole foods. Blended vegetable drinks can be easy and fun, and may serve as a bridge to eventually doing something better, but, when it comes to our health, they fail in comparison to cold-pressed juices.
Misconception #2: “There is an unbelievably high amount of sugar in what is marketed as healthy juice”
FACTS: Actually, that’s correct depending on the juice. Most commercially sold juices, including the ones that sound the healthiest, contain too much fruit and are quite high in fructose. However, this is about bad products being sold on the market and not about the benefits of juicing when done correctly. Simply put, not all juices are created equal. It’s true that we should eat fruits whole and not juice them in large quantities. The same goes for sweet vegetables such as beets and carrots- better to eat them and not juice them in abundance. I discuss this issue in my article on reversing type II diabetes:
“High sugar natural juices are also a concern. Soon after buying a juicer, the first mistake that most people do for their health is to juice carrots, beets, and fruits. Just one cup of beet juice contains a whopping 26g of sugar- this means that the calories in beet juice are over 80% sugar- it’s sugar juice! A cup of carrot juice is also high enough in sugar that the Harvard School of Public Health recommends that you limit yourself to no more than one glass per day. However, if suffering from a health issue such as diabetes, it would be best to completely avoid high sugar juices. Beets and carrots are very healthy just as long as you enjoy them in their whole form. If you do juice beets, carrots, or fruits, it is best to dilute your juice with water or, ideally, with green juice that consists of micro greens and leafy greens. For example, we sometimes include a small amount of green apples in the juice fast that we prepare for our clients. Children can have more sugar than adults because their organs are still functioning well, and so you can add a bit more fruit juice in their drinks while sneaking in the leafy greens!”
Misconception #3: “Juicing is just the latest trend endorsed by celebrities.”
FACTS: Nothing could be further from the truth. Large health institutes have been reporting on the importance of juicing for over 6 decades, and Dr. Norman Walker has been known since 1910 for his research on the benefits of raw juicing. This is NOT a trend. I enjoy celebrities as much as the next person but, with all due respect, we shouldn’t care less about what they choose to do in their private lives. Thank goodness that many health professionals, including medical doctors, nutritionists, and even psychologists are beginning to understand and speak out about the benefits of juicing. Almost a century of research shows us that there is nothing, in the field of health and nutrition, that has ever shown to be more beneficial than intermittent fasting along with a proper plant-based diet. Juicing is simply a great tool to boost our consumption of beneficial foods in order to accomplish our most important health goals. Is it so bad that celebrities are in on it as well? They work in a highly competitive industry dominated by good looks, healthy looking skin, and an abundance of pressure to have plastic surgery, so choosing to take care of their looks from the inside-out by boosting their health is a step in the right direction.
Misconception #4: “You can always obtain all of your nutritional needs through your diet alone.”
FACTS: This is no longer true in today’s world. Nutrient levels in the foods we eat are much lower today due to poor farming practices that have depleted our soils, and the fact that most produce purchased on the market is already past its prime. These are simply non-negotiable facts of our modern world. Furthermore, our environment is becoming increasingly more polluted, and we experience high levels of stress on a daily basis- both of which increase our need for better nutrition.
The solution to protecting our health is to increase our consumption of vitamins, minerals and especially antioxidants. There are two ways that we can best achieve this goal. The first is to include lots of sprouts and microgreens in our diet because they contain the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie of any food, and are especially rich in enzymes and antioxidants. The second way is to juice and drink a large amount of produce that we would otherwise not normally consume in one day. And if you really want to do what’s best, include microgreens in your juices such as sunflower and pea shoots. When we prepare juices for ourselves and for our clients, we understand that most of the nutrients come from the microgreens, and the rest of the produce is there mainly for taste. Furthermore, our one day per week juice fast is a remarkable program that helps to rest our digestive system while strengthening our liver, thus allowing our body to stay strong in a challenging environment. (Learn more about the environmental challenges we face every day).
Misconception #5: “Juicing is very expensive and it’s only for the rich and famous.”
FACTS: This is a common error in judgement that some people make. Let’s forget about juicing for a moment and examine a regular 12 ounce can of diet soda: it takes 600 calories of fossil energy to produce the soda in the can, and it takes another 1,600 calories to produce the aluminum can itself. That’s a total of 2,200 calories of fossil energy that we are burning up in order to consume a product that gives us ZERO calories. But it gets worse because the can is filled with chemicals that harm our health while also increasing our cravings for even more processed food. And so we pay for it not only with our hard earned money but also with our health and the health of our environment. That’s not a very good investment. Still, many people consider this can of soda, along with other processed food, to be very affordable while juicing, despite of its benefits, to be expensive. The worst culprit behind our personal health issues as well as the destruction of our planet, including our air, our water and our soil, is our consumption of processed and animal-based food. It is no wonder that industries work very hard, spending huge sums of money, to deny individuals the truth about the real costs of their products.
If we all became more conscious in how we evaluate our purchases, it would literally change our lives, end our healthcare crisis, and mark the greatest step we’ve even taken to ensure the health of our planet. But we’re not completely there just yet. A few of my clients, far from being financially rich, routinely receive thoughtless comments from people questioning how they spend their money. It’s sad to say, but if you update your cell phone every year you are among the majority, but when you invest in your health you are somewhat ridiculed for it. The good news is that people are changing. We are becoming more educated and conscious than ever before- and the food, pharmaceutical, and even medical industries are feeling threatened. That’s a good sign.
Misconception #6: “Juicing is too time consuming.”
FACTS: There’s some truth to this statement but, once again, it comes down to perspective, long-term vision and priorities. Here is where we have to come to terms with one simple fact, and I won’t sugarcoat it: sometimes what is best is not the most convenient. For example, as a business, it would be great to fill our juices with sugar, reduce our costs, cut corners, and offer our clients an inferior product that sells better to the masses that are addicted to sugar. But I believe in a different paradigm. I believe that it’s okay to educate my clients, to empower them, to show them how to reduce bad food cravings, and to help them realize that they need to invest the time and energy it takes to achieve the results they desire. There’s no magic pill here, I don’t have it and we don’t sell it. But I will make you this promise: you won’t ever regret investing in your health.
I encourage you to learn more about the benefits of wheatgrass juice and about the ingredients that we use in our juice fasts.
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist
By the way, here’s another anti-sprout article:
It’s more alarming than the prior one I cited from Dr. Weil.
Also, there’s even a law firm posting about sprouts:
Have you ever experienced any illness with sprouts? Have any of your clients reported any such problems?
As you can imagine, this makes me want to avoid sprouting. How does a person find confidence and proceed?
Hi again Dominic,
I understand your frustration and confusion with such conflicting information. Please read my response to your previous comment below and also watch the video I recommended to understand how confusion is often manufactured from thin air.
For many years our clients have consumed sprouts daily, no concern whatsoever and no issues to report other than improvements in their health.
To better understand the fear over raw produce, including sprouts, one must fully appreciate the political and economic factors at play. But first, a bit of science: sprouts don’t poop, lettuce doesn’t poop, plants simply don’t poop. They don’t have intestines. Therefore, the real source of E-Coli contamination is always animals, and, more often than not, factory farmed animals fed an unnatural diet which makes them more prone to developing bacterial infections. Studies show that over 50% of beef samples test positive for fecal matter, and 92% of poultry.
When was the last time someone told you to handle raw spinach or lettuce very carefully, and to properly disinfect your cutting board after chopping produce? Never. We do that with meat because we know it’s contaminated. And the more we raise animals for meat the more we pollute our environment. If we’re not careful, we will continue to infect our soil, water and air to the point that we won’t have access to clean produce anymore, and eating raw greens that provide essential nutrients will become a health hazard.
The solution is to consume less animals. How come this doesn’t make the headlines? Instead we are told to fear the lettuce and the sprouts. That’s because the meat industry has the funding – and thus the lawyers – to control what gets said regarding outbreaks. And when it is determined by lab tests that an outbreak was wrongly blamed on produce, the media’s retractions are tiny in comparison to their initial accusations.
Buying seeds from an organic farm and sprouting at home is extremely safe. So safe that I don’t believe there has ever been a contamination case recorded from homegrown sprouts. Mix sprouts with animal products and you are in trouble. Our seeds are organic, tested for pathogens, and are stored properly. Our clients sprout at home- away from any animal products. Very safe indeed! Safer than most produce bought at a grocery store.
Lastly, nothing in nature is sterile- not even breast milk- and that’s what makes it so healthy. Trying to reproduce the health benefits of these “non sterile” foods is impossible. Instead of moving away from foods that bring us health, we should face the real issues that cause contamination in our world.
Sprouts are simply the most nutritious foods we can ever consume, as well as being the most affordable. Sprout with confidence.
Thank you for the information. I’ve been busy with work and forgot to check back until now.
I see your point about plants not pooping.
In the article and comments on the AmazingRibs website, they were asserting that sprouting at home can be dangerous because the conditions needed to sprout are the same conditions that are favorable to growing bacteria and that sprouting at home “…is only slightly safer.”
“Sprouts are seeds that grow on plants that live outdoors where animals roam. There are deer, mice, rabbits, boars, and birds in sprout fields. There is bacteria in the water that irrigates them. And there are worms and bugs in the dirt. And then they are put in bags and stored in warehouses and shipped in the holds of ships where they can easily be exposed to rodents. Take seeds that are contaminated, soak them in warm water and they grow, and so do the bacteria. At home or in commercial sprout operations. Many growers, universities, and gov agencies who test seeds and sprouts, commercial and home grown, often find them to be teeming with bacteria.”
There was another argument that organic seeds aren’t guaranteed safe, because…
“…many organic foods are usually grown in manure, but they attempt to pasteurize it with heat. Ideally it would be heated in a furnace room or retort, but in most cases it is “cooked” like compost by allowing a pile to heat up outdoors. Unfortunately, this method is less than perfect…”
Anyway, this is not meant as an attempt to refute your informative responses. It’s simply to provide context to why I asked the question.
It would seem that sprouting is likely safe, if one has uncontaminated seeds, uncontaminated water, a sterile preparation area, sterile jars/screens, and clean hands.
#2 question, since we’re discussing sprouting.
Can ANY grain, seed, and/or legume be sprouted and eaten raw? Kidney beans? Or, is it easier to list things that should NOT be sprouted and eaten raw?
In one of your articles, you cited some information on Loren Cordain’s website where he surprisingly (to me) acknowledged that sprouted grains and beans can be consumed on his fantasy “Paleo” diet.
“Yes, sprouted grains and beans are a much healthier option. When we ‘sprout grains’ we are allowing the seed to germinate and a shoot will emerge from the seed. This is the part that is cut off and eaten. Therefore, the seed itself is not actually consumed (as is the case with whole grains and wheat flours where the seed proteins and starches are milled and eaten).
One can consume sprouted grains and beans without fear of anti-nutrients. However, keep in mind that these are still nutritionally poor in terms of micronutrients. Leafy greens and other vegetables contribute high fiber AND a higher concentration of nutrients-grains are still ‘nutritional lightweights’.”
However, he seems to have backpedaled on eating sprouted legumes:
“I would like to amend my earlier statement: We can consume GRAIN sprouts without fear of anti-nutrients. However, legume sprouts still appear to contain considerable concentrations of saponins–the secondary compounds responsible for increasing gut permeability. Alfalfa sprouts (which are actually in the pea family) have an especially high concentration.”
Just so I’m clear, it’s your view that eating the ENTIRE sprouted grain, seed, and/or legume is safe and there’s no need to cook any of them?
Je vous remercie.
Yes, whole sprouts are ideally eaten raw, with a few exceptions. Sprouts are nutritional powerhouses, with benefits that far exceed typical produce purchased at a grocery store.
There is a lot of junk information on the internet, and it’s unfortunate because it confuses the general public, often discouraging people from adopting simple dietary habits that can significantly improve their health. This is why during my consults I prefer to empower people by educating them on the science behind certain claims, as opposed to simply giving them the answer.
Learning how to become a better consumer of health and science information is important, and it is what allows us to interpret the evidence with confidence. As I mentioned in a previous response to you, my video, entitled “Nutrition Scam 101: When Doctors Abuse Your Trust“, is a good start for explaining how bogus claims are made to sound convincing to the public. Watch the video! Thank you.
I’ve been thinking about sprouting and found your website mentioned in the comments section of a blog. You have a great website.
One of the articles I read by Dr. Andrew Weil suggests not eating legume sprouts. Would you be able to comment on his remarks?
“The only sprouts I advise against eating raw are legume sprouts because they contain natural toxins that are only broken down through cooking in water. These include mung bean, lentil, chickpea, and alfalfa sprouts. (The toxin in alfalfa sprouts, canavanine, can harm the immune system. Since cooking turns these delicate sprouts to mush, I advise against eating them at all.) The FDA warns against eating raw sprouts because some outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella have been traced to contaminated seeds. If the bacteria are in or on the seeds, they can flourish during sprouting even under clean conditions. I think that’s unlikely, but I suggest you ask for sandwiches and salads in restaurants and delis to be served without alfalfa sprouts, and if you do eat other bean sprouts, be sure to cook them. Raw broccoli sprouts are fine.”
I found that article at https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/better-boost-from-broccoli-sprouts
When my girlfriend was pregnant she ate raw sprouts (homegrown) every day, and my almost 3 year old daughter also eats sprouts daily- as have our clients for many years. So, in short, no I do not have any concerns. Yes, I am aware of the research that these faulty claims are based on- and have reviewed the research in detail.
For example, the so-called toxin in alfalfa sprouts – L-canavanine – has been shown to be an active anti-cancer- that’s a good thing! Theoretically, to have any negative effects, according to marginal animal studies conducted using L-canavanine itself and not on the actual sprouts, one would have to consume a ludicrous amount of alfalfa sprouts, over 15kg per day! In short, anybody that looks at the research on L-canavanine and concludes that alfalfa sprouts are toxic should have no business reviewing science or influencing the public.
People being discouraged to eat sprouts due to a misrepresention of scientific evidence is, in my opinion, a sad and unfortunate circumstance. My advice to you is to watch my video entitled Nutrition Scam 101… to understand how to become a better consumer of health information in order to make better decisions about your health. You are definitely on the right path, otherwise you wouldn’t be here asking these questions.
I have been reading all your articles since I found your site. I’m looking for recipes for my family and myself. Can you provide that?
we have a recipe page on the website, it’s up on the main menu. The juicing recipes are under the Living Foods section, just click on Markito Nutrition Juices and below you will find a menu for the juices. Let me know if you have any questions.