Q: I’ve been getting clients asking about juicing and juice cleanses.  Do I dig them?  

A: In general, I feel that fruit juices are a glorified way to receive mega doses of sugar.  First off, there are myriad recipes to use when making juice.  An apple-pineapple-orange juice is going to be very different in sugar than say, a cucumber-kale juice.  If you are going to juice, make a green veggie juice with a few strawberries tossed in for a hint of sweet.  Even better, drink a smoothie instead, full of yummy protein, greens, and healthy fats.

Q: But isn’t fruit sugar good for you?

A: Sure fruit sugars are “natural”, but their components are fructose and sucrose.  Sadly, the same two components of table sugar.  From a blood-sugar perspective, this means fruit sugar is sugar.  Of course, the argument is that fruit has vitamins and minerals that cane sugar does not.  I agree with this, but rather than drink juice, I recommend you eat the entire fruit, and guarantee a nice dose of fiber to slow the glucose spike, and increase fullness.

In addition to the sugars / carbohydrates, fresh fruits and veggies are amazing complete whole foods that contain a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and digestive enzymes (the fabulous living cuties that help us digest the very food they are found in, smart eh!?) that all work in symbiosis when raw and unadulterated.  When we make a fresh juice, we’ve manually masticated the food(s), and this process helps breaks down the cellulose (plant fiber) and makes the nutrients more readily available than even the most avid chewer in town (momentary pause to picture a person known as, “The Most Avid Chewer in Town”.  Let’s just hope he has friends.) Aka: Blending helps us get more out of our food.  Juicing does as well, however, it also extracts the fiber that we need to keep things slowly metabolizing.  This can mean an increase in insulin (our sugar mobilizing and fat storing hormone) and thus, weight gain.  Readily available energy, Carbohydrates and sugars, are quick to be used but also quick to be stored as fat.

Q: Is juicing ever good?

A:  Again, not all juice is created equal.  A green veggie juice for a healthy person who isn’t dealing with weight issues, is a total health elixir.  I recommend including a handful of almonds along with the carbs.  It’s also important to keep the juice as low-sugar as possible, using veggies low on the glycemic index.  That said, I think juice with a little fruit can be good in times of illness and serious health conditions when solid food is not possible.  Then, juice can deliver nutrients in a gentle way that is very easy on the stomach (carbohydrates/sugars are the only macronutrient that actually begin their absorption in the mouth) with little to no work.  As a daily habit for most of us, I keep fruit juicing to a never and veggie juicing to on occasion, as long as it’s mostly veggies.  If it’s all leafy green veggies, you could make it a weekly habit.  Make sure you also have some type of fat or protein like a handful of almonds to accompany the green juice, to add a little slow-burning fuel to slow your carb-only fire.

Q: What about all the bottled juices that are sold?

A: Avoid them!  Firstly, most of them are just fruit (SUGAR alert!).  Second, they are almost all pasteurized (aka: sent through a high-heat process to kill all bacteria) and thus all the living enzymes are nuked in the process.  Also, with the nature of the plant-cell-walls being shattered open, the juice is then very susceptible to oxidation.  Vitamin C is also the most heat-volatile vitamin, so that bottled OJ that is your favorite source of Vit C, is actually not delivering the amount said on the label.  Again, go eat an orange, friends!

Some brands claim to be “cold pressed, but are not clearly stated as “unpasteurized”, and there is a debate if the HPP process is just as damaging to nutrients.  If you MUST drink fruit juice, I would only drink raw fresh-made, and add in some fresh lemon to slow oxidation.  You can also cut it with water to make it last longer and reduce how sweet it is.

* A note on organics: juicing is a way to get all the nutrients “out in the open”, so to speak.  It’s also a sure-fire way to blend in all those creepy pesticide and chemicals when you include the peel of non-organic produce.  When juicing, either peel everything, or even better honey buns, choose Organic!