2016 was the year of debunking 2015’s health crazes. And I love it. Unfortunately some myths die hard (take anti-vaxxing for example), and so we must persist in the battle against bad diet advice for all.
As a yoga teacher, I am surrounded by other yogis all the time. I love them and their weird habits. But I am tired of hearing them tell me that juicing will cure cancer. Or coconut oil will prevent Alzheimer’s, or kale will create world peace. It’s bullshit. And its time to knock these myths out for good so we can help our students/patients/friends/family/colleagues/blog-readers make the most out of nutrition so they can carpe the f*** out of every diem.
Myth # 1: Juicing
Imagine this. We take all the water and sugar out of our fruits and vegetables and leave behind the fiber. Then drink the colored sugar water. That is juicing.
But its green, so it must be healthy, right?
Fibre helps promote beneficial bacteria in the gut — vital for preventing constipation and reducing the risk of bowel cancer. It’s also thought to play a major part in keeping our immune systems healthy as well as preventing conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, bowel cancer and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Fibre also helps you to feel fuller for longer — handy for those on a diet — and aids the absorption of nutrients, especially minerals such as calcium, into the body. Take fibre away and you remove these benefits. – DailyMail.co.uk
In addition to loss of fiber, the more you process a fruit or vegetable, that is, the further it is from its source in the ground, the fewer nutrients the piece of fruit or veggie has. Antioxidants found in fruits are some of the first to denature and break down, almost immediately after juicing.
So we have stripped out all of the fiber and a lot of the nutrients. Whats left, anyways? Mostly sugar and water.
Plus, lots of Americans are purchasing their “juice” pre juiced form the grocery store. Meaning it has been sitting in a refrigerator for god knows how long. So it has even fewer nutrients than juice made fresh at home. Not to mention, a lot of these store bought juices are LOADED with preservatives and ungodly amounts of sugar. It is much easier to drink the sugar from 3 oranges than it is to eat 3 oranges…
If you want to get “micronutrients,” take a fucking multivitamin. Truth is though, it is hard to be deficient in most nutrients, given that you are getting enough calories. Do some research…I guarantee you juicing is the most expensive, least effective solution to your issue.
But that isn’t all…
It is notoriously difficult to clean the blades of a juicer properly. You probably aren’t. Which means your juicer (like your Keurig) is full of harmful bacteria which can pass into your drink during processing.
So are smoothies any better? Sort of….but not really.
Here is the thing. If you are drinking smoothies rather than juice, you are preserving the fiber. But you still have preprocessed it. This makes it easier to digest (by essentially cutting out the first level of breakdown), which defeats the purpose of fiber (fiber/roughage being difficult to digest is what makes it bulk-forming for your stool).
You also have upset the delicate balance of hormone release which occurs when you actually chew the food, sending messages to your brain that you are eating and will soon be full/satisfied. These chemicals are not released in the same way if you let your blender do the chewing for you. As a result, you’ll end up eating (or drinking) more, consuming more calories.
In addition, fructose, the natural sugar found in plants, is normally bound up in a web of fibrous matter. As you chew and then digest, your body slowly breaks down the fiber, causing a delayed release of fructose into your bloodstream. This results in a natural plateau of blood sugar, which we know is good for preventing hunger and insulin resistance (leading to Type 2 Diabetes).
But pureeing your fruit and veggies is like chewing the plant matter to death before it enters your body, unlocking the sugar, and making it much more accessible as soon as it crosses into those little capillaries lining your digestive tract. This causes a spike in blood sugar, and therefore insulin. You do that enough, well, you’ll end up seeing an endocrinologist. It also means you will be hungry much sooner than if you had just eaten breakfast the old fashioned way.
But wait…there is more!
Those fruit juices are just as acidic as sodas. So they are damaging your teeth as well.
I am not saying never drink juice. Just like anything else, moderation is key. I myself like a glass of OJ with breakfast now and again and I like a smoothie on a hot day. But please stop going on these juice fasts or smoothie cleanses. They are doing nothing positive for your body and they may even be harming it.
As Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Mostly Plants.”
Eat food. Stop drinking it.