You’ve likely been confronted with the juicing craze in one way or another. There’s a lot of talk about it — some good, some bad. But what’s the verdict?
Well, it’s a little mixed, if we’re being honest…
So today, we’re going to list the pros and cons of juicing, so that next time you fire up the juicer, browse the juice aisle, or visit a juice bar, you know exactly what you’re in for!
But first, just so we’re clear, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of juicing. Because there’s more to it than you may think.
Types of Juices and What to Look Out For…
Juicing can — and certainly does — get more in depth than buying a carton of orange juice from the grocery store. For starters, you need to look at how the juice was made. Because depending on how the juice was processed, it might not be as good as you think.
What’s in it?
The first important thing would be to look at the ingredients of the juice you’re buying. Does it contain stuff you want to put inside your body?
If the nutritional value states that the juice is high in sugar, don’t be alarmed. Due to the high sugar content in fruit, all of them will be high in sugar.
But you should check if there is added sugar. This includes sugar syrups and sweeteners. You want a product that is just juice. Which can be somewhat difficult to find in the grocery store. It’s best to either make the juice yourself, or go to a local juice bar/restaurant that offers their own house-made juice.
You also want to look at what kind of produce is being used. Is it organic or conventional? Some state that juices made of conventionally grown produce may also contain traces of harmful pesticides or other chemicals, which will be more potent once juiced. Though not much research confirms this, studies have shown that organic juices can be slightly more nutritious.
But even then, you need to be wary of how it’s made…
We’re about to cover various ways that juice is commonly produced, but an important thing to consider within all of them is this: how long ago was it juiced, and how quickly was it sealed?
Once the fruits and vegetables are broken down and the cells are exposed, they begin to oxidize. This depletes the juice of nutrients, and can even create free radicals within the juice!
In juices that are mass-produced and shipped to grocery stores, this means that they’ve gone from fruit to juice long before they were packaged and placed on the shelves. This can end up leaving you with nothing more than a bottle of sugary water, and not the nutritious drink you were looking forward to.
You’re likely familiar with the term from concentrate, since so many of these juices fill the grocery store shelves. But do you know what it means?
Juices from concentrate are juiced, then they have their excess water removed, thickening them. This allows for easier storage and shipping. Once the product is ready for packaging, water is re-added, and it is shipped out to retailers. If you’ve ever purchased those frozen cans of orange juice that you have to add water to — that’s frozen concentrate.
But there are a few things to keep in mind here:
- How old is the juice? — Because juice from concentrate can keep for so much longer, it’s possible that the juice you’re pouring into your glass is months old.
- Nutrient density — If it has been frozen or refrigerated, how old the juice is may not be much of a problem until you factor in nutrient density. How many of those nutrients were lost in the manufacturing process? How much has the juice oxidized?
- Treatment — Most juices from concentrate undergo a process called pasteurization (which we will get into in a moment). This is meant to rid the juice of potentially harmful bacteria, or bacteria that may spoil the juice. But, this often destroys the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and enzymes you likely want in your juice.
- Additives — Most juices from concentrate add sweeteners, sodium, or preservatives that might not be a part of the health kick you’re looking for.
Pasteurized juice is juice that has been heated to a really high temperature for a short amount of time in order to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. However, as previously mentioned, this may kill or ruin the good things in the juice.
Most — if not all — juice made from concentrate is pasteurized. The concern is that any bacteria on the produce at the time of juicing may end up in the final product, where it can swiftly be digested with the juice.
To mitigate this, produce should be washed well, and the juice should be consumed sooner rather than later.
Keep in mind, however, that some nutrients are more vulnerable to heat than others. Though pasteurization does degrade some of the vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t remove all of them. Even pasteurized juice contains a nice boost of nutrients.
While most juicers use blades to cut the produce, cold-pressed juicers use various methods — such as slow grinders — that meet a certain requirement: they don’t create heat.
When juicers with quick spinning blades cut up produce, the machine eventually heats up, and so does the juice. This kills nutrients and enhances the process of oxidation. To get the freshest possible juice, cold-pressing for raw juice is a great option.
It’s called cold-pressed because in most cases, the produce is grinded up into a straining bag, where it is then squeezed tightly by two metal plates. This presses the juice out sans heat!
High Pressure Processing (HPP)
High pressure processing (HPP) is another method of reaching the same goal as pasteurization.
In this case, the freshly squeezed juice is sealed into plastic bottles. Within these bottles, they undergo a treatment of being placed under intense pressure. This kills the potential harmful bacteria, but can also ruin the nutrients.
Again, not all of the nutrients are destroyed. But they are diminished, and analyses of juice that has undergone HPP are found to have a decreased volume of certain vitamins and enzymes.
Most cold-pressed juices undergo HPP, however it is important to note that not all cold-pressed juice is put through HPP. This tends to be a misconception among consumers.
Raw juices are exactly what they sound like — untreated juice, fresh from the juicer. Unless you are in a vulnerable demographic — a young child, pregnant, a senior, or have an autoimmune disease — there should be no concern consuming fresh raw juice. Especially if the produce has been cleaned properly.
This is why it is best to either make your own juice at home, or to buy from a local shop or restaurant that frequently makes their own juice.
Bonus points if the produce used is local and/or organic.
The Pros and Cons
Now that you know the ins and outs of juicing, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Generally speaking, when people talk about juicing, they’re referring to either adding the healthiest juice possible (raw, cold-pressed) to their diet, or doing a juice cleanse.
Juice cleanses are certain periods of times — typically ranging from one day to one week — during which you only consume juice and water. Though, some do include nut milks and/or soup broth to help sustain yourself.
If you ever decide to do a juice cleanse, and you begin to feel ill, immediately have some solid food. At that point, you’re doing more harm to your health than good.
Juice cleanses are definitely the most scrutinized, and you’ll see why when we go over the pros and cons.
So, without further ado, here they are:
You consume far more servings of fruits and vegetables. It’s an easy and tasty way to get the many vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients that fruits and vegetables have to offer.
There’s no doubt that fruits and vegetables positively affect our health and well-being. If you think you may not be getting enough, a quality juice every day may be a great idea!
You get the fruits and vegetables without the fiber. Fiber helps slow the digestion of the sugars in fruit, but without it, juice will likely spike your blood sugar. This and other potential negative effects of having the juice without the fiber is why juice cleanses may be taxing on your body.
However, having a juice every day with a meal shouldn’t pose the same negative effects, as you’re digesting it with food.
Increased intake of phytonutrients. These nutrients are created by plants, thus they are in your fruits and veggies! They are great supporters of the immune system.
Potential negative impact on the microbiota. There’s been some speculation that juice cleanses can disrupt the gut flora because certain microbes feed on fiber. And if there’s no fiber, these microbes likely won’t last through your juice cleanse.
Again, it would be best to add juicing to your regular diet instead of fasting with juice, as this can help keep your gut flora as regular as possible.
Decrease in health complications. This is most likely due to the increased intake in nutrients from the fruits and veggies, but studies done on juice intake have found that juicing can lower the risk of certain health problems.
It’s expensive. Depending on the brand and quality, juice can get awfully expensive. This is especially true for locally prepared juices that tend to be healthier. And though juicers are the most cost-effective option in the long-term, they’re still quite expensive.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, it’s a great option to add to your daily diet. Most of the health concerns stem from juice cleanses. But usually, too much of anything can have negative effects — even if it’s generally good for you.
Make Sure You’re Getting What You Need
Of course, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as-is would be the best way to get everything you need. It’s just not as convenient or fun as juice. But health maintenance is important. However you choose to do it, make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need so that you can live your best life!
If you don’t know if you’re getting enough, or just want to make sure your body is getting what it needs, supplementing is a great option!
But just like juicing, you need to make sure your supplements are prepared right, and are of good quality, or the nutrient density gets diminished.
Here at PuraTHRIVE, we’re aware of this, which is why we offer a range of quality products. Made with absorption in mind, all of our products ensure that the nutrients get delivered to your gut for optimal absorption, giving you the most out of every dose!