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: 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 benefit from 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 the fibre is still present challenges our digestion and absorption of nutrients. A well strained juice, on the other hand, is easy to digest within minutes, contains lots more nutrients, and does not require chewing, or even a well functioning digestive system. 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.
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist