Fruit juice is a staple of so many people’s diets, that it’s not funny. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s full of vitamins as it’s a concentrated version of a healthy food and it saves actually eating a real piece of fruit. That has been the opinion of many people for years. I drank heaps of it when I was growing up. But really what can be so bad with it and what is a good alternative?
When we look at most fruit juices, the amount of sugar in them is ridiculous. A glass of fruit juice can have the same amount of sugar as a glass of coke! 11-12 teaspoons is not unusual. A good reason to avoid both! But don’t get me wrong, I like fruit and eat a piece or two a day. One good thing about fruit as a whole, compared to juice, is the fact it contains plenty of fibre. With the fibre present, digestion is slowed down so the big sugar hit does not happen. But when you juice a food, the fibre is no longer present and all you are getting, for example, is the sugary part of 10 oranges! That’s a lot by anyone’s standards. Would you ever consider eating that many oranges?
Store bought products are even worse than fresh juices. When we juice fresh fruits, they start to degrade very quickly. Think about how quickly an apple browns after you bite into it. Juice is no different. So it needs preserving. What needs to happen is not dissimilar to pasteurisation, where the heat destroys the vitamins and they add antioxidants or preservatives, with most being a synthetic version. Not good. Also most juices are just watered down concentrates!
But don’t panic, there is a great alternative to fruit juice. It may not be as sweet, due to the obvious fact that the sugar levels aren’t present, but vegetable juice is great. I’m not talking about the store bought stuff that says it’s vegetable juice, as it’s really just fruit juice with a bit of vegetable juice added for good measure. What I’m talking about is a good mixture of vegetables from your leafy greens (kale, spinach, cabbage), to things like celery, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, beetroot, ginger. The list goes on. Just google “juicing vegetables” for tons more ideas.
The reason vegetable juicing is so good, is similar to fruit juicing without the negatives of so much sugar. It’s just packed full of nutrients. A win win situation. If you have ever wanted to go on a fast to lose extra weight, cleanse after an Easter or Christmas binge or just boost your health, a juice fast lasting anywhere from 1-7 days once a year will do you wonders. This is where you just have vegetable juice for all meals. I would suggest backing off on any hard training during these periods, just keep the running to an easy intensity and moderate distance as you may feel a bit off. The reason being, any toxins stored up in your body will be released back into your system for excretion, so headache and fatigue is not uncommon depending on the state of your body. Vegetable juice is very alkalising which I spoke about in a previous blog.
Most juicers out there are high speed ones that juice just about any food in a matter of seconds. The problem with these are that they can destroy the enzymes and some vitamins present in the juice. The type I prefer is more like a screw or an auger which presses the vegetable juice out slower than the high speed ones but without the heat. They are more expensive to purchase, but a good one should last years where some of the cheaper ones I have seen, you would be lucky to get a year out of them.
Try it for yourself, even just a glass for a morning snack would be a great addition to most people’s diets which, due to our busy lifestyle and convenience foods, tend to be vitamin deficient. Let me know if you have tried it, what you have tried and any differences you have noticed in your health after juicing.