When you think of juicing (the fruit and veggie kind, not the illegal steroid kind), the first thing to come to mind may be a healthy active lifestyle or an easy way to lose weight.
But when you give up the other foods your body needs on a daily basis, it can become harmful to your health.
Juicing shows up a lot in celebrity diets, health detox programs and organic lifestyles. And to be sure, there are positives to be had.
Yet, there are negatives to juicing, too, and juicing at the expense of eating real meals must be approached with caution and common sense.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2010, 35.7 percent of the United States population was obese.Â Such news often sparks a new flood of quick-and-easy diet schemes, many of them incorporating juicing or juice fasting.
“I think the term is used interchangeably,” said Heather Sylvester, registered dietician at Kennedy Hospital. “Both can mean a liquid diet of juice and water for a short period of time.”
There are people who should not juice fast, such as people undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, those struggling with nutritional deficiencies such as iron depletion, and those with kidney disease.
According to Sylvester, juicing or juice fasting for those with diabetes could send blood sugar levels through the roof. For those with kidney disease, high levels of potassium and minerals can build up in the blood to hazardous levels. And for people undergoing chemo, juicing is not recommended because of high levels of antioxidants and low levels of protein.
But juicing for a short time, as opposed to an extended juice-only fast, may be used by otherwise healthy people. And, drinking juice in place of one meal to lose weight may work for those without health concerns, especially if it’s part of a balanced diet.
Of course, with juicing can come with loads of sugar. If you are looking to lose weight, but still want to include juicing in your diet, Sylvester advises limiting to just one meal.
“Breakfast or lunch is the easiest (meal to replace), but any meal works,” Sylvester said.
For breakfast, you could combine fresh fruits and vegetables with water or ice and no sweeteners. If you want it to be more balanced, turn that juice into a fruit juice smoothie by adding low fat yogurt or skim milk.
This way, your breakfast not only fills you, but gives you a well-balanced, healthy breakfast.
April Schetler, registered dietician at Virtua Health & Wellness Center, points out that juicing eliminates much of the fiber that fresh fruits and vegetables carry. However, juicing does provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits and veggies. It also hydrates.
“Juicing can be a great addition to a health diet when used in moderation, Schetler said by email. “Instead of reaching for a soda to beat the afternoon slump, a glass of freshly squeezed juice may be a better pick me up.”
Juicing has many positives when it is done in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle, says Anthony Gentleski, owner of Animo Juice & Burrito Bar in Haddonfield.
“If you allow yourself to eat whole, raw fruits and vegetables . . . . it is more satisfying, and will likely allow you to stay with it for a longer amount of time,” Gentleski said.
Gentleski, his brother Joe and sister Maria created Animo with the aim of providing healthy, quick-serve foods and juices free of preservatives and synthetic ingredients. Their web site boasts: “We don’t believe in artificial preservatives, processed foods, GMOs, empty calories, deep fryers or microwave ovens.”
From personal experience, Gentleski believes including juicing and whole fruits and vegetables in a diet along with exercise and no processed or artificial foods is the way to go.
At one point, Gentleski tried a three-day juicing diet. “Now I’m more likely to do a one day juice fast once in a while to give my digestive system a break,” Gentleski said.
If you hate the taste of veggies, juicing vegetables with your favorite fruit will help you consume your daily intake of veggies, he says.
Slowly weaning your taste buds away from fatty foods and a mass amount of sugar will turn cravings towards healthier foods.
“Slowly, your body will adapt to your new, health- conscious way of eating, and you will begin craving fresh fruit and vegetable juice, instead of greasy, fat and sugar-laden foods,” Gentleski said.
At Animo, a popular juice drink is Simply Delicious. This concoction is made up of fresh squeezed carrots, apples, lemon and orange juice.
Studying the food pyramid (recently changed by the FDA to a plate), most of us know that a healthy diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and dairy.
According to Schetler, Sylvester and Gentleski, juicing is only one component of a healthy diet.
“If you fuel your body with a healthy diet, you will be rewarded by looking and feeling great,” Schetler said.
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