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Take health claims about juicing with a grain of salt

AIESHA BANKS • May 21, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Freshly squeezed and freshly bottled juices have become a popular way to get the health benefits of fruit and vegetables and are also favored by dieters looking to “cleanse” their way to weight loss. But do juicing’s health claims hold up?

According to those claims, juicing is an excellent way to get a bounty of fruits and vegetables, and it’s easier to absorb nutrients from juice than whole foods. That’s only partly true. While you can literally squeeze out many of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables by juicing them, you also lose the fiber — a component of fruits and vegetables (and other whole plant foods) that adds to satiety and helps improve heart and digestive health.

If you are looking to cut back on sugar, look at more of a veggie approach— kale, cucumber, and celery are low-sugar vegetables that are delicious options for juicing — or sticking to a 4-ounce serving of fruit juice (that’s the amount equivalent to a serving of whole fruit). Check out Healthy Kingsport’s website at www.healthykingsport.org for some delicious juicing ideas.

Juicing is also a good option for those who suffer from stomach issues, as the juice is more easily digested than whole fruits and vegetables. It also has the benefit of combining different fruits and veggies in one sitting. Juicing may take larger amounts of fruits and vegetables to make a glass of juice than you typically would eat in a sitting, you will get higher doses of micronutrients and phytochemicals, but you'll also get more sugar and calories, without the fiber that helps to slow the absorption of that sugar.

While juicing has many pros, it also has some cons. It is also vital to be aware of food safety concerns when preparing fresh juice. Harmful bacteria may be present and become part of the finished product, hence the importance of washing your produce before each use, keeping your utensils clean, and avoiding cross-contamination with unwashed produce.

Unless pasteurized, fresh juice should be consumed immediately to prevent bacterial proliferation. Sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and people who have significant health problems, or those whose immune systems are weakened, risk serious illness or even death if they drink juice contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Just remember, you don’t need to detox. Ever. Your body is designed to eliminate toxins naturally. If you have a functioning gut, liver, and kidneys, you are continually detoxing every minute of every day. Drinking at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit in a day will help the body do what it needs to do. Juice can be one way to up your intake, but whole fruits and vegetables should still be a part of your daily diet.

Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure, and influencing policy.

Aiesha Banks is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at [email protected]

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