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How juicing Is overrated

Juicing. It seems like an ideal way to lose weight and get healthy, right?  After all, you’ve seen that babe holding a glass of juice, a tape measure conspicuously draped around her impossibly tiny waist. Maybe you’re tempted by the caption that guarantees that by juicing, weight loss will be ‘easy’, or‘amazing’, or even ‘miraculous’.

Here in Cuenca, don’t be surprised to see these ads on local TV, in español, of course.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could “juice” your way to a size six, without hunger, without dieting?  Wouldn’t it be great to get those recommended nine servings of fruit and veggies in just one glass, not worry about the calories, and drink yourself thin?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying 100% juice is an unhealthy food; what I’m saying is that juice is processed food, and juice won’t deliver as advertised.

Why Fiber Facilitates Health

There is a difference between juicing and blenderizing fruits and vegetables.  With juicing, important health benefits are tossed in the garbage, namely the pulp and fiber.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Most plant foods contain both types – both have health benefits, ranging from better digestion and lower risk for heart disease to lower risk of certain cancers and inflammation.

Studies show that soluble fiber is especially important for gut health and weight management, and passes through your digestive tract to nourish your friendly bacteria, known as a prebiotic effect.

Weight-wise, fiber fills you up whereas drinking juice has no impact at all on your appetite.

Article continues below the graphic.

Many say blenderizing (liquefying foods) is better, because you retain the pulp, but there are health benefits lost — more about that later.

Digestion starts in your mouth.

We underestimate the value of chewing.  Starting in your mouth, mechanically breaking down larger particles of food into smaller particles helps your stomach absorb nutrients, and chewing stimulates release of digestive enzymes in both the mouth. Saliva also contains essential digestive enzymes, as does the stomach — and the act of chewing triggers hydrochloric acid production to speed up the digestive process.

Without chewing, the whole mess lands in your stomach, which now has to work overtime to absorb the overload.

For example, consider how many oranges it takes to make just one 6-ounce glass of juice? Depending on the size and juiciness of that orange, you might need four, five…or more. Would you peel and eat more than even one or two at one sitting?

Why do they give people with diabetes orange juice when their blood sugar gets too low?

Juice shoots your blood sugar up quickly — and then it drops down — just as quickly. But the fiber in whole fruit mediates the blood sugar response.

Blending Vs. Juicing

But you may have invested in one of those “turbo blenders” like a Vitamix or Ninja that quickly pulverize whole fruits and vegetables. Since blending does not destroy fiber, yes, it’s better than a juicer, where you throw the pulp away.

But consider how much raw produce you use to create one glass of blended juice? If a cup of raw kale is one serving, how much do you use in your smoothie? Two, three, four cups…or more? Daily?

All vegetables are rich in different types of micronutrients, and in portions typically consumed they are healthful. However, more is not always better.

All greens contain minute amounts of naturally occurring substances that protect the plant. Spinach is rich in oxalic acid – too much could exacerbate kidney stones in susceptible people. Kale and other brassicas contain goitrogens, micronutrients that eaten in excess can interfere with thyroid hormones. Too much is not recommended. These substances are largely deactivated when cooked, a good reason to lightly steam or sauté in olive oil, instead of drinking mass quantities daily.

So, if you enjoy a blended smoothie, instead of blending the same vegetables and fruits every single day, mix it up — especially your greens. And remember, by blenderizing your produce, you’re taking in more nutrients than your body can use, so you’ll (hopefully) excrete the excess.

If you’re throwing the whole fruit into your blender, yes, you’ll get the fiber, but beware; some fruit seeds and skin are not meant to be eaten.

For example, apple seeds contain amygdalin molecules, which produces cyanide. Consuming lots of appleseeds often causes stomachache or even worse. The skin of the cherimoya fruit and its seeds are toxic — the seeds have been used for insecticides and eating the skin can induce paralysis for 4-5 hours.

Variety is the spice of life — in all things. Since kale and bok choy are in the same brassica family, rotate your choices to include arugula, or chard, or beet greens.  Check out the vegetables with the highest amount of fiber here.

Fasting Fallacies

Ignore the recommendation for “juice fasts”, “detoxes”, or other pseudo-medical abstractions designed to lighten your wallet. I’ve seen ads for “retreats” or juicing regimens proclaiming “rejuvenation” by “detoxing” the digestive track.

Well, I’m not a religious person, but the human body is one darn amazing machine that daily performs miracles of chemical and biological processes. You’re not going to undo a lifetime of poor eating in seven days — and your body needs the right balance of nutrients and nutrition to perform … every single day.

I like to use analogies with my clients – what’s your dream car? A Dodge Dart or a high-performance sports car? Fuel your engine as if it were a Ferrari. We’re designed to chew and swallow, not merely sip.Your engine can’t run properly by excluding whole groups of nutrients, namely protein and fat. And it’s absolutely not necessary.


Fuel up with whole, fresh foods, avoid processed foods, and drink water — your body will detoxify itself! That’s why we have a liver, kidneys, lungs, and intestines — to naturally digest, absorb, and detox daily.

Try this simple “detox” plan for a week and see if you don’t feel great — just by eating naturally, and not overeating. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and healthy fats from plant and/or lean animal sources. Drink water, or herbal or black tea, all shown to help your engine run optimally.

Wash all produce (even pre-washed) before you eat it, including fruits and vegetables that you will peel (bananas, pineapple, carrots). If you can buy organic, then it’s good to know that by eliminating certain chemicals and pesticides used in conventional farming we’re helping not only our bodies but the environment too. The studies show that organic or not, there are significant health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, daily.

Finally, people with diabetes and those taking medication for diabetes should never juice fast…ever. And fasting is never recommended for pregnant women or for children.

Sources Fiber can help you lose weight, but only a specific type. Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. High-Fiber Vegetables. An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food.


24 thoughts on “How juicing Is overrated

  1. There are two types of juicers, centrifugal and masticating (also called a slow juicer). Your article doesn’t even mention this.

    Centrifugal juicers are essentially worthless, the heat created destroys much of the benefits. This is also the only type of juicer you’ll find for sale in Cuenca.

    Masticating juicers are a whole different story. I suggest you do a little “more” research and learn the difference.

    1. Hi Richard,
      You are missing the point of my column. Chewing promotes definite health benefits in digestion and absorption, as well as weight management not realized when you drink your fruits and vegetables. If you have any studies that show that ‘centrifugal juicers…destroys much of the benefits’ of juice, please share. I have seen no research that shows that high speed juicers get hot enough to “cook” the juice, and nothing that shows that enzyme activity has been compromised. So, why don’t you share your research from a credible source? Looking forward to seeing it. Susan

          1. “Juices and smoothies are food and not meant to be poured straight down
            your throat. When you eat solid food the process of digestion starts in
            your mouth. As you chew, enzymes in your saliva get to work on the food
            to ensure nutrients are delivered to your cells. The same is true when
            juicing. I know this might sound a little strange but try to chew your
            juices before you swallow them. Moving the juice around your mouth will
            help it mix with your saliva and allow your digestive enzymes to start
            working so that your body can digest your juice faster.”

            He (or she) who laughs last, laughs best (smile)

            1. “Juices are not meant to be poured straight down your throat?” “Chew your juices before you swallow them?” “Move the juice around in your mouth?” “The correct way to drink juice is to Chew it?” “Juicers know this?” WTF ! You’re joking, right? Why not just eat the food instead of juicing it?

            2. You remind me of the guy that goes to the mirror and laughs at what he sees and thinks he’s smarter than the guy in the mirror.

              You were asked for references to support your nonsense and you gave a link. I went to the source you cited and the entire body of that “reference” was no more than the quote that you have pasted above. Nothing more. Even down in Vilcabamba, when they’re asked for a source, they’ll at least cite some pseudo science publication like Natural News, but you come up with an article of 103 words (most of which are conjunctions and articles) and you try to pass that off as scientific research.

              1. Your straw man, mentioning “Natural News” is exactly that. And I never said what I quoted was from a “scientific article”.

                Put in another quarter and try again.

                1. First, Richard, you need to learn what a strawman is. This should help:


                  Don’t worry, it is short and even you can master it.

                  You were asked to provide a reference by the author of the article. Here are her exact words:

                  “If you have any studies that show that ‘centrifugal juicers…destroys much of the benefits’ of juice, please share. I have seen no research that shows that high speed juicers get hot enough to “cook” the juice, and nothing that shows that enzyme activity has been compromised. So, why don’t you share your research from a credible source?”

                  In response to that request for “research from a credible source” you provided a link to a 103 word blurb that said nothing. Hardly scientific. You can deflect all you like, but you can’t bluff me into submission, no matter how many quarters you use trying to do so.

            3. Dear Richard,

              As anyone that has had high school biology knows, the two enzymes found in the mouth are lipase and salivary amylase (known as ptyalin) Lipase begins the process of fat digestion and ptyalin begins the process of carbohydrate digestion. However, the amount of actual digestion that takes place in the mouth relative to that which takes place in the stomach and small intestine is minimal under the best of circumstances. I say “under the best of circumstances” because what you are suggesting when you tout juices is far from optimal. I have read your notions about “chewing” what is basically a liquid and they are pretty much off the wall. However, if you were to suggest that juice should be swished around the mouth and retained for several minutes before swallowing, you would approach achieving the same digestive result that you would if you just ate (by chewing) the fruits and vegetables you would make into juices. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone willing to do that, but if you choose to, go for it.

              Here are a few elementary scientific references that will help you understand the digestive process, beginning in the mouth. It would serve you well if you took the time to understand the basic, underlying science in matters you are discussing and to develop and ability to cite actual scientific references to support your beliefs.



              Although the burden of proof to support ones beliefs always lies with the person making an assertion, I have taken the time to do your research for you regarding your notion about centrifugal vs masticating juicers. I can find nothing that supports your claims. If you know of some source that in fact, supports those claims, by all means, post it here and I will be glad to read it with an open mind. Until and unless you can do this, all you have written falls into the category of myth, urban legend and pseudo-science.


              Kenneth A. Merena Ph.D.

      1. Masticating juicers employ a slow-geared grinding mechanism. A cheaper and faster alternative uses centrifugal force to achieve separation. The slower speed of the masticating process is held to protect the vegetables from oxidation and heat (from friction), reducing nutrient breakdown.

        A recent UC Davis study found that drinking vegetable juice daily significantly increased drinkers’ chances of meeting the daily recommended number of vegetable servings. Having an easy source of vegetables encouraged drinkers to incorporate more vegetables into their diets. Children who refuse whole vegetables may find vegetable juice, when blended with fruit juice, a palatable alternative.

        1. Richard, I realize you will fool many lazy people into believing that because you have provided a link to a source, that they don’t have to read the material your link presents to see if it actually supports your claims. However, I am a trained scientist and I take the time to evaluate any evidence I am presented. Not only does the link you have presented not support your beliefs about the health benefits of drinking juices, it contradicts them. Further, you have strayed from providing support to your notions about juice from centrifugal vs. masticating juicers.

          Here is a direct quote from the Wikipedia source you just provided a link to. I invite you and all readers to read it directly from the source you have provided. It is right from the portion of the material you sent that has the header : NUTRITION

          “In general, vegetable juices are recommended as supplements to whole vegetables, rather than as a replacement. However, the actual nutritional value of juices versus whole vegetables is still contested.

          USDA guidelines for Americans states that 3/4 cup of 100% vegetable juice is equivalent to one serving of vegetables.[2]
          This is upheld by a 2006 study, which found that juices provide similar health benefits as whole vegetables in terms of reducing risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer although the authors noted “a lack of human data and contradictory findings hampered conclusions”.[3]

          Another study has found that drinking vegetable juice reduces risks of Alzheimer’s Disease by 76%.[4] However, the British Nutrition Foundation holds that although vegetable juice counts as a serving, it can only
          count as one serving, regardless of the amount of juice drunk.[5]

          Kenneth A. Merena Ph.D.

  2. Thanks again, Susan, for addressing some of the latest pop dieting. This is all about chemistry and most of us don’t know it all–appreciate your educating us on something so important.

  3. thanks Susan, you just helped make space in the kitchen, Nutribullet stays, juicer goes, LOL. I agree with you and really rarely used the juicer, but love the bullet, that combined with other healthy foods seems a good balance, even the occasional steak LOL

    1. BILLY! “…the occasional steak”? Really? You are the most carnivorous person I know and trying to pass yourself off as an omnivore is comical.

      Still waiting for the invite you promised me to your next barbecue. I know it has been raining, but really, we can deal with that. Did you ever go to that butcher I directed you to up on Lamar?

      1. I could not find it, please let me know again. I am in Vermont at the moment, back in the fall, but if you let me know I will take notes for my next visit. I have struggled to find good meat in town, but I did discover Jomar which is pretty nice.

        1. Isn’t Jomar 100% frozen sea food? The butcher place is very close to Jomar and I’ll take you there when you get back. When do you return?

  4. I’m entirely in favor of mastication of juices as well as other fluids and rank it second only to onanism for sheer entertainment value. Personally, I prefer to gnaw on a smoky bourbon although spiced rum will do in a pinch. I’m told there’s a fellow in Vilcabamba so skilled at chewing on water that he’s able to separate the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The only problem is that it gives him terrible gas.

    1. You are brilliant. You get it. May we have more of your humor in the future? Be assured that the message in your sarcasm is way above Richard’s head, but for those that understand, it is much appreciated.

  5. If I take a bite out of an apple I’m certainly not going to chew it “for several minutes” so your statement is ridiculous.

    And once again, “chewing” juice isn’t “breaking news” to juicers.

    1. Great reply, Richard, you “almost” addressed one of the scientific issues Dr. Merena introduced.

      You are really stretching here and with every new post, your credibility further diminishes. Too bad you just can’t seem to realize how pathetic you appear to others.

      Juice on, Richard, juice on…

  6. Thank you again for a well-researched article on a popular eating trend. Glad to know I don’t need to a juicer to eat healthy. I’m old fashioned — peel and eat my fruit & veggies.

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