The realities of juicing

Juice cleanses usually involve replacing meals with juice.
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Google “juicing” and the great health debate of 2016 will hit your laptop. 

To make sense of the juicing craze, it’s best to think of this health trend as existing on a spectrum of anti-juicing to extreme-juicing. 

At one end, you’ll find extreme-juicing, or in other words, juice cleanses. These usually involve consuming only juices for a certain number of days to rid the body of “toxins.” Many nutritionists are speaking out against juice cleanses, citing the lack of protein, fat and fibre as a health risk. Others have expressed concern that the popularity of cleansing or detoxing may exploit those struggling with eating disorders.

While it’s often pitched as a weight-loss solution, juicing does little in the diet department. In fact, most dieticians advise clients looking to lose weight to stay away from juice. If weight-loss is your goal, you’re better off eating, rather than drinking your calories.

That being said, juices can be a good alternative for those who struggle to fit vegetables and fruits into their daily diet and are missing out on vitamins as a result — but they shouldn’t take the place of a meal.

So the best place to find yourself on the juicing spectrum? Probably somewhere in the middle.

In this case, there are a couple of terms you’ll come across if you choose to incorporate some juice into your diet.

A lot of juicing revolves around cold-pressed juice, but what the heck does “cold-pressed” even mean? You’d be surprised to hear just how “pressed” the ingredients are. I’m talking a process where a machine applies pressure equal to five times the amount at the bottom of the ocean.

Some juices will be labeled “HPP”, which is short for high pressure processing, or pascalization. 

Many of you will be familiar with the term “pasteurization”, which is when liquid is heated to extremely high temperatures for a short period of time and then cooled down again. While pasteurization uses heat, pascalization uses pressure, both with the purpose of killing off any possibly harmful bacteria to improve shelf-life. But these processes also kill off good bacteria. 

This can be misleading for juicers, as good bacteria is essential to a healthy diet. 

In order for a juice to be considered “raw” or healthy it can’t have gone through pasteurization or pascalization. Raw juice needs to be consumed soon after the juicing process.

In addition to the process of juicing, one bottle of juice can require a whopping 1 to 2 lbs of fresh produce to make. It’s no wonder the price of a single bottle of fresh juice (250 mL) can get pretty steep, running anywhere from $6 to $12. 

All in all, the verdict on juicing is that you’re probably better off drinking them as a nutritious snack rather than your holy grail. Your health and your wallet will thank you.

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