Some people are so into juicing that they persuade others to drink nothing but juice for months at a time. On the other hand, the strictest Natural Hygienists feel we shouldn't be drinking it at all, as it's a 'fractional' (or 'fractured', or 'fragmented') food. So, yet another 'divergence of opinion', yet another raw food thing that we partake in enthusiastically, then find that, according to some 'experts', we're doing it all wrong...
So, here are some arguments for and against juicing, collected from various sources, that I hope will be of interest to all, and, at least, give those of you who are unsure just a little more information than you didn't have before, or hadn't considered, that will help you to decide whether you're going to be joining the next 90-day 'Juice Feast', eschew juice altogether, or...something inbetween?
IS JUICING NATURAL?
Sure, no electric juicers in the jungle. And doesn't sound very natural - eating one thing from a food and not the rest. So let's look at the animal world. Do animals juice?
Many bugs suck juice from plant foods.
Some varieties of moth drill holes into fruit and suck out the juice.
Fruit bats live mainly on fruit juice. They chew the fruit, swallowing the juice and soft pulp and spitting out the tougher parts.
Chimpanzees 'juice'. Stephen Walsh (Vegan Society): 'Chimps often chew fibrous foods to remove the juice before discarding the fibre.'
Gorillas juice in two ways: They chew fruit up into little balls and then dip them in water before sucking out the juice. And, they fill their mouths with a 'wadge' of leaves and fruit, using the mass of leaves to press against their teeth and palate to 'juice' the fruit, which they may suck on for a few minutes before discarding the fibre.
Clues from the animal world suggest that it might not be natural for human beings to live on juice alone, even for short periods, as we don't see mammals doing that. However, we do, as per the chimp/gorilla examples, see mammals that share physical characteristics with us ingesting juice as part of their diets. They are eating 'fractured' foods, ingesting foods that they wouldn't wish to eat whole, but rather than rejecting the food per se as (therefore) unfit for chimp consumption, they suck out the juice and discard the rest.
And, although we're not chimpanzees or gorillas, can we be sure that those living naturally in the past would never have bitten into an orange and sucked the juice? Never sucked the juice from pomegranate and spat out the pulp? Never sucked sugar cane grasses to have the sweet juice from something that was too fibrous to be chewed?
So, the pros and cons:
JUICING - CONTRALoss of fibre When the fibre 'buffer' has been removed, we can absorb sugars too quickly into the bloodstream. Ani Phyo explains: 'Fruit juices contain a lot of sugar that's been stripped away from fibre. A glass of orange juice is made from squeezing about five oranges. If you tried eating five oranges it wouldn't be easy, because the fibre would fill you up. Nature's perfect; she packages the perfect ratio of fibre to sugar in an orange. She never intended for us to strip away the fibre to take in all that sugar at once as a juice. It's the fibre that time-releases sugar into our bloodstream'. (This is certainly true, particularly in the case of fruit juices, and is why those with sugar issues should be cautious with fruit juice (and carrot and beet) and why 'juice diets' should always be greens/vegetable-based rather than fruit.) (And, re Ani's comment on eating five oranges - I hear you, 811-ers - I know it's not that difficult to eat five oranges, but I feel Ani's general point has merit.)
Loss of minerals via pulp Many foods, especially fruits, have the greatest concentrations of minerals in the skin, peel or pith. For example, most of the calcium in oranges is in the pith. And the UK National Heart and Lung Institute has confirmed that it is the red grape skin that contains the antioxidants.
Loss of nutrients via oxidisation For example, when an apple is cut it browns after a while. When juiced it browns almost immediately. (So always drink juice as soon as it's made.)Bypasses chewing Salivary juices released in quantity through sufficient chewing help alkalise our food. Teeth and jaws benefit from chewing, and so do our facial muscles (some say 'more chewing, fewer jowls'...)
We might eat more of a food than we would be attracted to eat in its whole form This can be a 'contra' argument (see earlier article 'Too Much Of A Good Thing?') as well as a 'pro' (see later!).
Juice moves so quickly through the body that we absorb fewer nutrients than we would from the food in whole form Elchanan (Natural Hygienist): 'When we juice, food moves through our digestive tract at a speed approaching that of water. Contrary to the notion that we absorb more, we actually absorb less, simply because the food moves through so quickly. We are designed to digest different foods at different speeds, based upon their water, protein, fat, mineral etc content. When we turn our food into a flood, we miss a lot. Please note that I'm not saying juicing is 'bad'. I do enjoy an occasional juice, but the whole food will be preferable in general.'
(On the other hand, even if we do lose minerals, and speed of movement means fewer absorbed, these arguments could be counter-balanced by the fact that, when we juice, we may eat more of certain plant foods than we would have eaten whole. Also see the argument in the pro section further down that juicing releases more nutrients through the breaking down of cell walls...and isn't it just the case that so often with these 'should we or shouldn't we eat/drink' arguments we can go round and round in circles...?!)
Juicing creates waste Yes, the pulp gets thrown away. Although, it could be composted. And some people make cookies and burgers from it. As to whether these are good...down to personal taste.
JUICING - PRO
Juicing bursts open the cells so antioxidants can be absorbed (not sure about this one...I'd have thought that thorough chewing of whole foods and the normal processes of digestion could do this as efficiently. However, it's true that many of us have got into the habit of not chewing thoroughly, eating just a little too quickly.)
Juicing saves energy David Wolfe: 'Juicing and blending foods saves the body digestive energy, channeling more energy for healing and detoxification'. (Certainly true - the body has to do less work to break the food down.)
Releases chlorophyll Jason Vale: 'Chlorophyll is...the natural sunlight energy trapped within the fibres of the plant. When you separate the juice from the fibres you effectively release that liquid sunlight energy: liquid energy which improves the functioning of the heart, the vascular system, the intestines, the uterus and the lungs - the same liquid energy which can help assist the body to clean the blood and liver, strengthen the immune system and reduce high blood pressure. Chlorophyll has strong antioxidant properties and it can act as a natural defence against free radicals...' (Any science boffs care to comment?).
Increases carotenoid availability from carrots, lycopene from tomatoes etc (well, yes, it would, but 'more' of a nutrient does not necessarily mean 'good', especially if it's at the expense of nutrients lost in the pulp or via oxidisation that would work synergistically with the carotenoid, lycopene, that is, an imbalance could be created. Just a suggestion - I don't know that this would be the case.)
Means of obtaining nutrition from food we can't chew, or digest easily in quantity (eg tougher green leaves) Stephen Walsh (Vegan Society): 'Humans can only partially digest some of the harder fibres found in most varieties of commercial vegetables' (one argument is that perhaps we shouldn't be eating them in the first place. However, cue the juicing chimps!).
Juicing celery is a good source of natural sodium (Although those eating cooked food, and raw fooders who add salt to their food, however Celtic or Himalayan, are not going to be going short of sodium and are more likely having far too much, celery is a good natural source of sodium for high-fruiters who don't have added salt. I tend to forget about celery when it's in stick form in the fridge, but get my quota via juicing it with apples, spinach, pears etc.)
'Dr Norman Walker (juicing advocate) lived to 109!' (Well, no, he didn't, but he did make it to 99, which is excellent for a man of his generation. Juicing was one aspect of his excellent diet, which included lots of raw plant foods.)
May protect us from pesticides in non-organic food Dr NW above said that although sprays and pesticides will enter into plants and roots they will be absorbed by the fibres (which will be eliminated in the juicing pulp).
Tastes good! (Indeed it does, and it's a big plus for juice if it encourages someone who isn't enthusiastic about greens, celery, fruit etc in their whole state to consume more of them if juiced. As mentioned earlier, my husband's a good example of this. Here are the plant foods that went into his juice this morning and, beautiful though they are, he just wouldn't have grabbed a stick of celery, lettuce leaves or even an apple before leaving for work, but he does love his juice!)
JUICE DIETS/JUICE CLEANSES/JUICE FEASTS
A 'juice diet' normally lasts from a few days to a few weeks.
A juice diet is NOT a fast.
There is no such thing as a 'juice fast' - please help me to discourage people from using this term incorrectly, as it confuses.
A fast, as has been clearly understood for the past few thousand years means total abstinence from food, so that the body consumes for energy accumulated waste material and fat reserves and, because there is nothing to digest, can devote itself to the process of healing (given sufficient rest). It also demands considerable self-discipline, as no food is taken.
Fasting is the most effective way for the body to cleanse, to heal. Fasting is documented to have achieved amazing results, and if the word 'fast' is used to describe diets that are in no way a fast, that's a pity, as some people who could benefit enormously from fasting will be led into thinking 'fasting - yeah, I've done that...'. For anyone who would like to know more about the benefits of fasting, see the relevant section at http://www.rawfoodexplained.com/. For an introduction (24-hour fasting), see my article here.
Juice is food. Hence, if you are consuming juice, you are not fasting. Those on juice diets are consuming often very large quantities of food in juiced form. Juice feast is accurate! Juice diets are sometimes referred to as 'juice cleanses', which is better, as although the juice itself does not 'cleanse' the body, it does help the body cleanse itself; it gives the digestive system a relative rest, in that it does not have to work nearly as hard as usual to break down food, thus allowing the body to divert more energy than usual into 'housecleaning'. Although not as effective as fasting, a juice diet can still confer considerable benefits.
Juice diets for healing
Here's a testimony from a forum contributor (copied and pasted many moons ago - no source - if you're reading, do tell me who you are!) to the virtues of juice in helping the body to heal: 'In just the last few months I have seen green juice put a pound a day on an emaciated woman who hadn't been able to gain weight by any other means in over ten years, completely and instantly get rid of one woman's coffee-withdrawal migraine headaches (carrot and celery), cure my own three-day-long toothache with just one giant glass (kale, cucumber, celery) and relieve one man's chronic constipation (carrot and spinach).'
(I'm going to put on my Natural Hygiene (oriented...) hat here and say that, rather than there being any specific things about these particular foods that would have healed these specific complaints, it would likely have been the general effect of ingesting raw (ie undamaged) plant foods and the general benefits of juice diets, that would have resulted in the body healing itself of these ailments. Do steer clear of taking a specific juice as a 'medicine'. Drink a particular juice for as long as you enjoy it. If we religiously continue to imbibe a particular juice when we have lost an actual desire for it, when our bodies are no longer welcoming it, just because we think it's 'good for us', or because it's going to 'cure' us of this or that, we may do more harm than good (eg skin colour change from excess carotene is not a myth!).
Short juice diets are commonly used at natural healing centres as part of a range of treatments for cancer and diabetes. However, note they are normally 'green-juice'-based diets. A prolonged period on fruit juice (stress - fruit juice - not fruit) is not a good idea, as the presence of so much fructose without the fibre 'buffer' could well cause problems for the body.
Are juice diets natural? Nothing in the animal world indicates that it is natural for us to live on juice alone for weeks at a time. But, for those who are ill, as I suggested in the last article on cancer, sometimes 'unnatural' treatments may be necessary to help the body heal itself of something unnatural living has created. And for those who may not have major illness, but are feeling out of sorts, with minor ailments, a juice diet could be a good idea. I don't see any pressing reason for a healthy person on a 100% raw food diet to live on juice for a couple of weeks, but neither do I see any particular reason not to.
A 'juice feast' has through popular usage tended to be the term for living for prolonged periods on juice alone, eg for more than one month. I can only suggest anyone considering living on juice alone for such a long period very carefully review the pros and cons. I'll come off the fence and say that I would never do this, and go with Natural Hygienist Hannah Allen's advice here: 'Habitual use of large quantities (my italics) of juiced foods is highly inadvisable. Juices bombard the body with large quantities of fragmented nutrients in much the same way as food supplements do, and the effects can be negative and even positively harmful. In addition, the body is deprived of the opportunity to chew, assimilate and metabolise the complete foods which are sources of optimal health.'
So, having said that I make juice for Leigh each morning, didn't say whether I drink it as well. Certainly do!
I used to gravitate towards the 'anti-juicing' arguments, but probably for no other reason than I didn't have a juicer. My 'views' changed somewhat after attending a course at which raw food chef Russell James made us a green juice every morning and I was...sold. Juicer in place within days of arriving home.
If you're a healthy raw fooder who doesn't juice, I can see no particular compelling reason to start doing so. On the other hand, if you're a healthy raw fooder who does juice, I can see no particular compelling reason to stop. Many Natural Hygienists do themselves drink juice occasionally - it's simply that they don't feel it's something we should do a lot of, or that it can ever be as good as eating the foods whole. Agree. For me a pear/celery juice is so much more delicious than eating a pear, then a stick of celery, and I'll happily trade that against the loss of fibre and nutrients. Occasionally.
For an earlier article on the benefits of 'green juice' particularly (and information about juicers), see 'Drink Your Greens' here.
And for those of you who are wondering what 'Natural Hygiene' actually is, see here. Lessons 1 and 2 give a good overview (note there is no longer a newsletter)