Remember the comforting feeling of sipping a juice box as a child, clenching the small, squeezable pouch with tiny fists and indulging yourself with a fruity burst of deliciousness? Although not in box form, many of us still crave either the tartness or sweetness of infused juices, especially when transitioning into warmer weather. Within the past few years, juicing has transformed into the latest craze, advertised as a tactic to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the American diet. Quite often it is difficult to read any nutrition and fitness magazine, journal, or website without spotting a juice or smoothie recipe. For people who find fruits and vegetables unappealing, juicers and blenders can combine several ingredients in order to mask undesirable individual fruit and vegetable flavors while combining an assortment of essential vitamins and minerals. The variety of juices in the market today has expanded immensely, yet the simplicity of juice-making caters especially to college students in search of on-the-go snacks and energy boosters.
The natural blending of fruits and vegetables with limited additives and sweeteners presents itself as a healthy snack option. However, there are a few drawbacks to this growing phenomenon that the media fails to address. For example, juicers eliminate the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables. When juice is extracted, the pulp, which contains all of the fiber, a carbohydrate that can lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and prevent colon cancer, is left behind. In addition, it often takes several fruits to produce an abundant amount of juice. Often, people making pure fruit juice can use up to four whole fruits, forgetting that the calories are still adding up. Preventative measures include producing mainly vegetable juices sweetened with a single fruit or balancing a juice with protein derived from Greek Yogurt, almond milk, peanut butter, or flax seed for a thicker, heartier beverage. Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of purchasing a $400 blender or juicer, despite exposure to convincing advertisements. Although some powerful equipment can impressively grind the core, rind, and seeds of fruits and vegetables, there are several other cheaper ways to develop a favorable product from even the simplest blender. Adding water to the mix can produce a smoother, more viscous juice if the consistency is not right after the first whirl.
As a result of the juicing fad, juice-only diets have gained significant popularity status. Hollywood celebrities have taken up these extreme diets, viewing them as a quick and easy weight loss strategy. These toxin-flushing cleanses can last anywhere from three days to three weeks. One regimen, called the Master Cleanse, involves daily drinking of six to twelve glasses of a lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and water mixture for ten days. Sound easy? The extremity of this diet can tempt even the most disciplined eaters to eat unhealthy foods such as cake or French fries. In addition, the resulting “cleanse” of juice-only diets is not exactly necessary. “There are detoxifying enzymes in the liver that break down alcohol and other drugs, and the kidneys handle water-soluble toxins,” says Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. The absence of solid foods can also deprive individuals of protein, calories, and other nutrients. Any weight loss results are also not likely to last when transitioning back to a solid foods diet.
Juicing can innovatively improve a person’s health if portions are correctly monitored and if it serves only as a component of the overall diet. Creative minds enjoy pairing different combinations of ingredients, even some they would never expect to taste good. If it sounds like a good idea, join the juice craze, but join with caution.
By Allison Milch