Lifestyle

Stop juicing. Start eating.

Juice is not the health miracle you’ve been told it is.

Juice is all the rage these days. My friends stand around the playground discussing juicers and comparing the odd foods they convert daily to liquid form. Every vegan café I pass has a chalkboard featuring encyclopedic lists of fresh juices for eyebrow-raising prices. Juice bars are popping up in health food stores, gyms, malls, and spas. There’s even a brand-new juice bar in my small rural town of only a few thousand people.

Why is everyone so crazy about juice?

People think it’s healthy, which is a reasonable assumption. If fruits and vegetables are so good for us, then it would make sense that consuming greater amounts would bring increased benefits; but the form in which fruits and vegetables are taken into the body matters a lot.

In an article for the Washington Post, called “People think juice is good for them. They’re wrong,” three professors of medicine explain why drinking juice is not the same as eating whole fresh produce:

“When you make juice, you leave some of the healthiest parts of the fruit behind. The skin on your apple, the seeds in your raspberries and the membranes that hold the orange segments together — they are all good for you. That is where most of the fiber, as well as many of the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, are hiding.”

Our bodies need that fiber. It fills us up, warning us not to continue swallowing calories. It slows the absorption of the sugars that pour into us from all the fruit used to make the juice, resulting in a smaller insulin spike and a liver that’s not so overwhelmed by the sugary deluge.

The fact that two oranges, a banana, and a generous handful of strawberries can be crammed into a single glass isn’t necessarily a good thing. Few people would eat that much fruit for breakfast in whole form, and many of those nutrients will get lost because the body cannot absorb it all at once. You might just end up “enriching the vitamin C content of the sewage system,” as Susan Barr, nutrition professor at the University of British Columbia, told the National Post.

The authors of the Washington Post article want people to start viewing juice as a treat, both for adults and kids. It does not belong on the breakfast table, in a lunch bag, or as a post-workout drink. Juice is better thought of as liquefied dessert, equivalent to an occasional, pleasurable glass of soda.

Still skeptical? Take the advice of one prescient commenter: “Enjoy your food while you still have teeth.”

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