I’m often asked why I juice so flipping much… with the main arguement being: “aren’t you just removing all the fiber”? So I thought I’d post a very brief summary addressing this issue, to help clarify why I believe juicing is enormously beneficial to our health, and why it has become a daily staple amoungst nutrition and health experts worldwide.
The fiber issue:
Yes fiber is important for maintaining bowel health, amoungst other things, but removing the fibre (via juicing) has some serious health advantages:
- Potential to increase lifespan
Research shows time and time again that mortality rates from all causes reduce as we increase fruit and vegetable consumption. In fact a review of several large prospective studies1 found an average reduction in mortality risk of 5% for each additional serve of fruit and vegetables a day.
One large glass of fresh juice (400mls/14oz) can provide between 51/2 – 71/2 serves of fruit and veg2! Now try putting that in a smoothie and blending it! You’d end up with a heavy, fibrous, unpalatable cold slop, that would fill you up before you were 1/2 way through. Yet we can get all of that goodness in one glass of juice BECAUSE the fiber is taken out. And when only 1 in 4 New Zealanders achieve their ‘5+ a day’3 i’d say that glass of juice is a pretty good insurance policy to start the day with.
- It’s the easiest way to get vegetables into picky eaters (which when it comes to vegetables, means men and children!)
Try feeding up kale, cucumber and celery to your child (or husband) for breakfast! You know the response right! But I can almost guarantee if you give them a small glass of juice, made from the same ingredients (disguised with a little apple and lemon), and nicknamed ‘The Hulk’ or ‘The Green Lantern’, and they’ll suck it down like a softdrink. Wham O! There’s 3+ before they’ve even walked out the door, with no idea what’s hit them ;-). Believe me, it works….
- You’ll actually absorb more nutrients than from the whole food
Phytonutrients are compounds found only in plant foods that are thought to be responsible for the numerous health protective, and potentially disease reversing effects of these foods.
But our bodies need to be able to extract and absorb the phytonutrient from the food first. This is where fibre can be a disadvantage, and may actually interfere with the absorption of phytonutrients4. Cold press juicing takes care of this, blending on the other hand doesn’t, as the fiber is retained and precious enzymes can be damaged by the blades.
- Greater variety and wider reaching health benefits
Most of us only cook a few types of vegetables each week, but when you juice, you tend to buy a much larger variety of produce (partly because you know none will get wasted), giving you a greater range of phytonutrients. As each phytonutrient has a specialist protective area in the body, variety is key. Many phytonutrients give food’s their rich colour, so mixing up colours can help ensure a range of nutrients: b-carotene from carrots, lycopenes from tomatoes, glycine betaine from beets, lutein from kale, plus thousands more natural health compounds.
- Less digestive stress
We bombard our digestive tract with food constantly these days, rather than the old feast/famine of our ancestors, and sometimes it just’s screaming for a break! Bloating, discomfort, belching, are all signs we are struggling to deal with the food we’re eating.
Removing the insoluble fiber, means our digestive system (including the liver) doesn’t have to work so hard to extract and absorb the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in abundance in fruit and vegies. This can be particularly helpful when people are recovering or healing, suffering with an illness, or are fatigued or stressed. It may also provide a welcome relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as insoluble fibre is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, which then produce gas, causing bloating, flatulence and discomfort in susceptable individuals.
- Faster delivery of nutrients
Removing the fibre also means the absorption of these health-giving nutrients is much more rapid than when we consume the whole food4. This can be particularly useful post-training, to replenish lost nutrients fast, as well as promote rapid absorption of antioxidants to help neutralise free-radicals formed during intense or prolonged exercise.
Of course not all juicers are created equal, and I would always suggest buying a slow press juicer over a blade mechanism to maximise yield (reducing wastage and saving you money), whilst minimising nutrient damage. Slow pressing juice also provides greater shelf-life and a vastly superior taste. I use award winning Hurom Juicers.
- Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2014; 349: g4490. Published online 2014 Jul 29. Xia Wang, Yingying Ouyang, Jun Liu, Minmin Zhu, Gang Zhao,Wei Bao,Frank B Hu.
- Juicing data from a 1 week personal juice fast, using the Hurom H26 Alpha Juicer.
- Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), July 2013 – December 2013, n= 6142 New Zealanders 14+
- The role of dietary fiber in the bioaccessability and bioavailiability of fruit and vegetable antioxidants. JFoodSci. 2011 Jan: 76(1): R6-R15. Palafox-Carlos H, Ayala-Zavala J F, Gonzalez-Aguilar G A.