Thankfully, the juicing obsession of the 80s disappeared a few years ago but there is still plenty of people that think that juicing fruit or vegetables is good for their health, in fact, some of them think it is extremely good for you. I can’t count the number of patients (most of them living with diabetes) that come to see me and tell me very proudly that they have a fruit or vegetable smoothie every day.
I just wonder what makes them think this is a good idea or even desirable to achieve a balanced diet.
I grew up with the concept that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. In fact, for me it was. I loved my breakfast. An addiction to a piece of bread with olive oil, which I managed to overcome, a glass of milk and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. The last one done by my mum, with incredible effort, every morning without fail. And it wasn’t that I didn’t eat fruit. I loved fruit. Our diets were incredibly healthy compared to what the average child eats daily now. But it was just “known” that a glass of juice every morning would give you the total amount of the very important vitamin C for the day. In fact, it was so important that my mum always tells the story of the one time when I didn’t want to drink it and she threw it over my head.
I think most parents now know that bottled juices and cartoon juices are not particularly healthy, they might know how unhealthy they are, but what most of them don’t seem to know is that there are no health benefits in juicing or squeezing fruits at home, in fact, there are plenty of negative consequences.
All fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates that our body convert into sugars. Fruits contain mainly fructose, a type of natural sugar, and some fibre and vitamins. Although vegetables do not contain fructose, they have a lot of fibre and vitamins. When we squeeze or process fruit to produce a juice or a smoothie, we destroy all the fibre and liberate the sugar which will be absorbed much faster and will create a spike in our bloodstream. Also, when we eat a piece of fruit we normally just stop there, to have a full glass of juice we probably will need several pieces which will make the amount of natural sugar we consume double, triple, or increase by 10-fold, depends on the type of fruit. In addition, a lot of the vitamins will denaturalise with sunlight or heat which can occur while we do our juice or smoothie. Although vegetables are safer with respect of spiking the sugar in your blood because they do not have any fructose, by doing a vegetable juice or smoothie you lose the benefits of eating the fibre. In summary, no benefits plenty of negatives.
It is true that some parents find that this is the only way their children will eat certain things but by feeding them smooth drinks with fruit and vegetables we are not teaching them to get use to the textures and flavours. It is more effective and less damaging for their health to just ask them to have a bite of one new food every day until they get used to it, than giving them a smoothie full of sugar with hardly any fibre or vitamins.
The same goes for adults, if you feel you need to eat more fruit and vegetables just bite them. Do not process them into drinks that destroy fibre and liberate sugars. Your body and teeth will do better if you chew a full orange than if you squeeze six into a glass of juice.