Is Juicing Helpful or Harmful?
If you love juices, there’s just one thing you need to ask yourself. Do you enjoy your juice as an occasional energy boost, or are you using juice as a form of food? The most common way of juicing is to have only juices twice a week, or sometimes more or less. Some of the popular juicing plans including having different juices on a day, and advise doing this twice a week. Juicing has been controversial. Recently at a talk that I gave, someone saw my chart on juicing causing blood sugar challenges and asked me what I meant by juice. She assumed that I was talking about canned juices loaded with sugar, but I clarified that I also meant the trend of healthy juices.
Juicing has been targeted at those searching for the eternal perfect weight, those on the hope of cleansing out their body of all the toxins and those wanting an extra boost of energy. The thinking behind juicing is that it is meant to give you huge amounts of vegetables or fruit or a combination of both, a rich supply of vitamins and minerals in one boost. There is also the idea that it is meant to alkalise the body which is now the magic word for all things healthy. Vegetable juices do alkalise your body. It does give you a boost of energy, in body and mind. It is a way to allow your detoxification to work powerfully, but definitely not if you eat terrible on the other days. It can counter the effect of pollution and toxic waste from all around you, as some ingredients can act as binders to draw out toxic overload within your body. It is supposed to give you glowing skin and shiny hair. It really is being sold as the magical quick fix to all the toxins that you take in, both consciously and unknowingly. A lot of this is true. What are the areas requiring your concern then?
As I said, a lot of the thoughts are true. You do need to eat more fruits and vegetables in a day. So why is it a problem then? However many excellent ingredients juice contains, the fact is that it is robbed and stripped away of fibre. Even if the bottle claims to have retained its fibre, in orange juice for example, it is only the inner fibre. The juicing process has taken away the fibre in each segment of that orange. What this does is speed up the rise of blood sugar, causing that spike, and then subsequently a crash. If your blood sugar spikes and crashes in that manner, it also upsets your adrenal function, thyroid hormones and sex hormones. Below your neck, your body does not know the difference between white sugar and a load of sugar. Juices without fibre can become a load of sugar, and your body reacts in the same way that it will to any form of sugar.
When does it creates havoc? The first problem with juicing is that you’ve stripped away all the fiber and concentrated the sugars into one serving. This means that digestion occurs more quickly, and blood sugar can spike and crash, which is why you need to keep drinking so often. Even when they have vegetables and greens, they can be low in protein, fat and fiber, making them impact your blood sugar. While this might be working for a few people, many people have different stages of adrenal dysfunction and are overtraining, making juicing a dangerous trend that is leading towards cortisol dysfunction and many more interlinked problems.
It can also impact you with certain medication that you are taking. Those on blood thinners, should exercise a lot of caution before drinking huge amounts of green juices where the Vitamin K can become life threatening. And the juice might be way more dangerous than eating a bowl of sauteed greens. Those with hypothyroidism should be careful when they drink juices as some juices can impact the thyroid. You might be fooled thinking that greens are loaded with goodness, but certain people with specific challenges, especially adrenal issues, must try this with caution that it can upset their adrenal function badly.
If you are really sensitive to picking up infections and your immune system is compromised, raw juices can be very unsafe. it can be the source of microbial infections. If your microbiome is weak and compromised from excessive antibiotics, while juice can be alkalising, it can also make you pick up those infections easily. One of the ways that you can work around this is to make your juice at home, where you know that you are cleaning the ingredients well, and making it hygienically.
So if you do enjoy your juice, here are some ways that you can have them safely:
- Have your juice after a meal with enough fat, fibre and protein.
- Avoid having a day full of juices where you get an overload of sugar, greens or cruciferous vegetables.
- Have it occasionally to boost your energy when you have a day of low energy
- Make sure that you eat something after juice, or chances are, the sugar crash post the spike will trigger hunger and when ignored, headaches ot mood fluctuations.
- Make your juice with one sweet ingredient and one low glycemic vegetable
- Avoid excessive greens if you are on blood thinners
What should you do instead? Eat balanced meals and get your required amounts of phytonutrients from vegetables and greens along with good fats, fiber and protein. This allows you to balance your blood sugar. Stabilise your system and build, rather than try to detoxify and cleanse, especially when you have health challenges. Get your fruit as fruit, or as a smoothie, where you don’t lose the fiber. If you do enjoy juice, keep it as a treat along with a balanced meal, or just before a meal where the sugar spike can be contained by a balanced meal that follows after. It can also help you as an energy boost on days when you feel you need the boost or when your digestion is weak and you are struggling to digest food. My pick would be to have it as part of a very balanced meal where the rich colours from beetroot or carrots can add some phytonutrient power to your day!