To Juice, Or Not To Juice? Here’s What We Know
I spent my entire childhood, and a large part of my early adulthood, drinking fresh squeezed juice every day. Standing in queue for a glass of “mixed fruit juice” at the local juice walah was almost a daily affair. Orange and watermelon juice were my favourites, but I also enjoyed an occasional dose of apple, carrot and beetroot juice (appropriately named ABC at my favourite juice bar as an adult). I also had a brief fling with aloe vera juice - much to my own dread, the bottled kind.
What can I say? Juice is a quick, convenient, palatable and tasty method of consuming fruits and vegetables. For my mother - and for any, I’d image - it was an easy and enjoyable way of making sure that we got our nutrients. And indeed, juice does have its benefits.
Over the years, every mother’s favourite trick of making sure her child gets the vitamins and minerals that nature has gifted us, became every wellness enthusiast’s favourite meal. Or, at least a snack. Yep, juicing has replaced eating. Now, we juice up everything from apple to spinach, celery to even cucumber. With every new fruit or vegetable added to the blender, something began to feel off. I mean - why do you need to juice up cucumber, of all things?
The juicing trend has been around for years, and in the last few, we have witnessed an upsurge of cold-pressed juices delivered in reusable glass bottles, juice meals, juice diet plans… and worst of all, “juice detox.”
The variety of detox foods, juices, and waters out there, not backed by science, points to one thing - that eating healthy is the cornerstone of being healthy. Think about it - detox water, with infused cucumber, lemon and mint, may or may not have added benefits, certainly doesn’t cleanse your body from the inside out, but it does the job of ensuring that you drink enough water; detox salads give you a much-needed break from the daily dose of greasy parathas and whatnot; and detox juice - it seems like a clever way of encouraging people to consume fresh fruits and vegetables. I doubt there’s more to it.
Just a couple of years ago, I would drink a bottle of cold-pressed juice from one of the new, “cool” health food joints that deliver across the city. Every. Single. Day. Until, they introduced Charcoal juice, well in time for the charcoal health revolution. A colleague ordered it, and sang praises as she sipped on it reluctantly. “It’s super healthy for you,” “They’re putting charcoal in everything these days,” so on and so forth, all the while, flinching ever so slightly with every sip. I was intrigued. I wanted to try this magical black coloured charcoal blessed juice. I had a sip. It was disgusting.
Now, activated charcoal may have its benefits, sure. But, does it replace other nutritious foods that are available to us? I wonder, because that is what juicing seems to have become - a replacement for everything else. We don’t believe in eating anymore - we just want to sip on our tumbler of juice. It all seems lazy to me, honestly. But, that is not the real problem here.
The problem is that juice is not as healthy as it’s made out to be, and that’s not me, or others who don’t like charcoal or prefer cucumber sticks, saying this. It’s science. According to Sheela Shehrawat, founder and chief mentor Diet Clinic Healthcare Pvt Ltd, “Juices are highly concentrated, meaning that it is not only the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that you are adding up into you, you are adding the sugar also, and particularly when it is fruits. Because, fruits are naturally sweet and when you juice them you accumulate more than normal sugar.”
Maybe the feel-good factor that follows gulping down a bottle of juice is, after all, a sugar rush. Shehrawat further adds that when we juice up fruits and vegetables, we break down and lose out on the fiber content: “Fiber is lost when you choose juicing over whole fruits and vegetables. Fiber is crucial for proper bowel movements, aids prevention against some critical illnesses like cancers, heart diseases and diabetes.”
Okay, but what about juicing for weight loss? The general perception is that a liquid diet is less in calories than a solid diet, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable that juicing vegetables and fruits is better than eating them whole, if you are trying to lose weight. But, that’s not true. Shehrawat says, “A glass of fresh orange juice contains about 1/10th as much fiber as compared to a whole orange and twice the amount of calorie. Too much of juice is not advised for diabetics and those who are trying to lose weight.”
Doctors and nutritions across the board concur. A few months ago, I attended a workshop by a rehabilitative cardiologist, who helps patients recovering from heart surgeries. He was telling us about the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables, which ones to steer clear of, etc. I already knew that juicing is not all that it’s made out to be, but I hadn’t yet started researching on the topic, so I asked him. He responded, “Juice is just sugar. It’s not good for anybody!”
So, what is one to do?
It’s simple! Eat your fruits and vegetables whole!
Eat a banana. Cucumber sticks. Make a bowl of salad. Dice up a mango. Eat strawberries whole, and celery with a delicious dipping sauce. Stop being lazy!
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