To Juice or to Blend? That is the question.
Tis the season for juice fasts, weight loss shakes and all matter of detox programs. Don’t we know it! We do it every January…
A question that I get asked very often is: ‘Is it better for me to juice my fruit and veg or to blend it?’ and of course like with most things in life and nutrition, there is no black and white answer.
So I’ll share with you some pros and cons of both and you can decide what fits into your lifestyle. And if you can’t decide, come and see me for a consultation:)
-Juicing is good for a fast uptake of nutrients. Once fibre is removed, vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the body at a faster rate and some argue this provides superior nutrition
-Juicing is great for those with compromised digestive systems. The removal of fibre allows the person to access the nutrients without upsetting their system (ie: without multiple trips to the loo). There were many times when my digestion was so poor I could never tolerate a smoothie, but a juice was ok
-Juicing is great for those who are very sick: Gerson cancer therapy employs multiple juices per day as part of treatment. This enables vast amounts of nutrients to reach the body very fast
-Juicing is great for kids that struggle to eat fruit and especially veg.
-Once the fibre is removed, the natural sugars in the fruit and veg are absorbed at a faster rate also- there is no fibre to slow down the sugars release. In the case of fructose from many fruits, this is not a good thing as fructose is shunted to the liver for metabolism (this is also what happens to toxins….so you need to think of fructose the same way. Yes, I know it’s ‘natural’).
-The sugar absorption issue is less important if your juice is made from 100% veg, however, we usually overuse sweet veg like carrots and beets because the greens taste so bitter! Keeping the percentage of sweet veg to 1/4 or maximum 1/3 is a better way to go
-Juices pile up a lot of sugar calories. I’m not a proponent of calorie counting, in fact this is never a part of my nutritional protocols, however, too many calories from sugars, no matter how natural it is can add up, especially in people who are challenged when it comes to digesting carbohydrates. If you have trouble losing weight, juice is not a great option
-The removal of fibre means there aren’t any prebiotics to feed the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut. If your diet is rich in vegetables and tubers like sweet potato you are probably getting enough prebiotics, however, if juice is your only source of fruit/veg then this isn’t doing much for your gut health
What about juice fasts?
Some very clever marketing person must have come up with the idea of selling people lots of juice bottles for exuberant prices and convincing them to eat nothing for days and just drink juice and calling it a ‘juice fast’ or ‘juice detox’.
The main reason I would never recommend a juice detox is that in order to detox your liver needs protein. It’s essential. No protein = muscle wasting as that is where the liver will go to for protein. So a fast or detox that only includes juice can never benefit physiologically. You might feel lighter for a couple of days from water loss, but real fat loss is extremely unlikely.
How to do it best:
The best juicing is done by slow, cold press juicers. Brands like Hurom or Kuvings sold in major department stores or online are best. Of course only use organic fruit and veg unless you want to be ingesting high quantities of pesticides.
-Blending fruit and veg allows fibre to be preserved, so you are ingesting the whole plant as naturally as possible (keeping in mind that hunter gatherers didn’t have blenders:). Fibre feeds good bacteria, slows down sugar absorption and makes you feel fuller (which a juice never does)
-A smoothie can be a complete meal if blended with fats (eg: coconut oil or avocado) and protein (nuts and seeds). In fact, I recommend you always blend a bit of both into your smoothie so you can absorb the nutrition from the vegetables: most vitamins from fruit/veg are fat soluble, meaning they need to be eaten with fat to be absorbed
-A smoothie allows for hundreds of variations- you can blend with water, nut or coconut milks, or my favourite: coconut water kefir. You can add greens and fruit/berries, nuts, seeds, oils, cacao, protein powder, raw egg yolks, variations are endless
-A smoothie is a good way to consume more vegetables: I aim to eat an absolute minimum of 6 cups of non starchy veg (the ones that grow above the ground) per day, which can be tricky especially on busy days. Throwing 3 cups of greens in a smoothie is easier.
-Can’t think of any, except it takes a bit of time to put it together! I usually put everything into a big glass the night before and blend in the morning.
How to do it best:
Any fast speed blender will do. I recently was given a Nutri-bullet as a gift and I’m surprisingly quite impressed. Despite the cheesy and over the top marketing, it’s actually very easy to use and the smoothies come out very….smooth! If you are on the go, look for a blender with a detachable cup so you can take it with you to work, etc.
What I do:
I use my juicer for making juice for my kids (60% veg/40% low GI fruit) and husband. Their metabolisms are much faster than mine and they are able to handle an occasional sugar boost that a juice provides while benefiting nutritionally. I make a juice on average 2-3 times per week. The best thing about my juicer is that it makes great nut milk! and the pulp goes into grain free baked treats.
I use my blender for making smoothies (for the family and myself). My smoothies are: 70% leafy green veg, 20% low GI fruit (usually berries) and 10% seeds/nuts/cacao/maca/protein powder. This makes a nice mid morning snack and goes towards my 6+ cups of vegie intake per day. The fibre of leafy green veg and their amazing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are so easily absorbed in a smoothie form. This form of nutrient drink is highly recommended.
Do you juice or do you blend? What do you love about your method? Do share in comments below:)