Is Juicing Healthy? Pros And Cons Of The Process

There is a good chance that one or more of your new year resolutions have something to do with health, possibly in the form of a gym membership or a vow to drink less. Or perhaps, you have decided to include juicing in your daily routine.

As the name suggests, it simply refers to breaking down fruits or vegetables into beverage form with the help of a juicing machine. Some people follow a "juice cleanse" of sorts, consuming extracted juice from fruits and vegetables as a replacement for their meals.

As denying yourself food can increase your risk of eating disorders and a variety of other health problems, this is not recommended by most nutritionists. There is no such thing as a juice-induced "detox" or "cleanse" as the human body already performs these functions on its own.  

In a less extreme version, drinking juice is a good way to introduce new fruits and vegetables to a diet. While the vitamins can provide an antioxidant boost, just make sure you do not depend on juice as your main source of nutrients — major ones like protein and fat will need to come from other sources.

It is important to remember that juicing eliminates insoluble fiber. "It’s a valuable nutrient that aids in digestion and helps you feel satisfied," said Abbey Sharp, R.D., a nutritionist based in Toronto. 

Another problem with low fiber content is a faster spike in blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that high consumption of fruit juice is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

This can be worsened in the case of store-bought juice which contains added sugar in addition to the natural sugar from the fruit. "When you stick with fresh-squeezed juices that aren’t packaged, you can avoid a bunch of added sugar," Sharp added.

On the other hand, vegetable juices can provide benefits without the rapid release of glucose into the bloodstream. Juicing the likes of kale, celery, and spinach could "provide a host of antioxidants without that insulin spiked," noted Kyla Williams, a top nutritionist in the United Kingdom. One drawback is the taste, she said, especially if you are used to drinking fruits juices with high sugar content. 

It helps to consult a doctor before juicing, especially if you certain health conditions, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism. This is because certain nutrients can lead to complications when consumed in excess — high amounts of potassium can be harmful to patients with kidney disease, for instance.

Ultimately, most nutritionists agree that consuming the whole fruit or vegetable is usually better than juicing. Follow the aforementioned precautions if you would like to opt for the beverage.

Do not use juice "for hydration and drinking large amounts," cautioned John Sievenpiper, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. He added that sticking to around 150 ml of fruit juice per day, an average serving, is reasonable.