First, let’s clarify what we mean by juicing. This is not an extended diatribe on the cream, the clear and needles in buttocks. That juicing works. Just ask Lance Armstrong. We’re talking about the kind of juicing that involves fruits, vegetables and presses. That kind of juicing, my friends, is BS.
Scan the marketing materials on popular juice drinks, diets, and cleanses, and you’ll see repeated claims about “toxins”, and how juicing helps rid your body of them. But there’s really no data to back up these claims, says Alexandra Caspero, RD, a nutrition coach and founder of Delicious Knowledge.
“Most proponents of juicing discuss it as a way to detox, which is really misleading and confusing,” she says.
First of all, you’ll notice the specific toxins juicing supposedly removes are never named. Caspero says it’s not clear what those toxins are, or how they’re bad for you.
Even if you could identify said toxins, there’s no research that shows pumping yourself full of carrot water or cucumber drippings will somehow flush bad stuff away. (Worth noting: You already have a liver, kidneys, and other built-in organs designed to deal with the unhealthy components of the stuff you eat.)
What’s more, by tossing the pulpy, pithy parts of fruits and vegetables in favor of the juice, Caspero says you’re stripping away one of the healthiest parts of your produce: fiber.
Fiber helps slow your digestion, which keeps you feeling full longer while allowing your body time to process and absorb all the healthy antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals housed in your kale or kiwi, Caspero says.
Along with those healthful nutrients, fruit also contains lots of calories in the form of fructose—or fruit sugar. Without the fibrous portions of your orange or apple, those concentrated sugars flood your digestive system and bloodstream with nothing to slow them down, Caspero says.
Health experts are still debating exactly how your body responds to a big, sudden hit of fructose-sans-fiber. But there’s no doubt you’ll feel less full drinking your fruits and vegetables instead of eating them whole. Lots of research shows consuming food slowly decreases the total number of calories you consume.
“Think about the ingredients in a typical green juice,” Caspero says. She mentions kale, a green apple, olive oil, and lemon. Squeeze all those into a glass, and you’ll have them down in a few swallows. But eating the same things as a salad would take you a lot longer to finish and fill you up much more, she says.
There is one potential benefit of juicing: If you’re the type who hates eating fruit or vegetables, and would find it easier to swallow a glass of their juices along with your normal meals, doing so could help you get some good nutrients into your diet, Caspero says.
But even if that’s the case, making a smoothie with whole fruits and vegetables is going to go down just as easily while giving you the filling, digestion-slowing benefits of fiber that juicing squeezes out.
Bottom line: Skip the waste and expense of juicing, and eat your carrots and apples the old-fashioned way. Your body will thank you.