Almost every health authority recommends that we get 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, yet very few of us actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to guarantee that you will reach your daily target. Juicing is extracting the juices from fresh fruits or vegetables and drinking the resulting liquid, which retains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals.

There is debate about whether juicing is as healthy as eating whole fruits and vegetables, but it is a convenient way to add them to your diet if you’re not going to eat them. Just keep in mind that whole fruits and vegetables have healthy fiber, most of which is lost during juicing.

Is juicing the same as blending?

Juice comes from a juicer. Juicers, which can be purchased in stores and online under various brand names, are not the same as blenders. A blended drink, also known as a smoothie, yields a lot more because the pulp is mixed right into the drink. Some people like that, but others find it difficult to drink. With a juicer, you discard most of the pulp and drink only the juice.

What about fiber?

Fiber, sometimes known as roughage, is the indigestible part of plant foods that works through the digestive system, absorbing water as it goes, and easing bowel movements. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Here’s the difference:

• Soluble fiberdissolves in water. It changes as it goes through the digestive tract, where it is fermented by bacteria. As it absorbs water it becomes gelatinous
• Insoluble fiberdoes not dissolve in water. As it goes through the digestive tract, it does not change its form.

When you make a smoothie in the blender, you retain the pulp, which is insoluble fiber. With juicing you still get fiber, but it’s in the form of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs digestive bile made by cholesterol, which creates even more digestive bile, which then helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. So, while you can’t rely on juice for your insoluble fiber, it is a healthy beverage.

Other benefits of juicing?

Those who juice faithfully tout its many benefits. Some contend that juicing is better for you than eating whole fruits and vegetables, because your body can absorb the nutrients better, and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber. Others point out that juicing can reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immune system, help remove toxins from your body, aid digestion and help you lose weight. While there’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are more healthful than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself, juicing is a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn’t eat.

What about calories?

Depending on what’s in your juice, the calories can start adding up. If you have only fruits in it, calories will be a concern. If you use vegetables, the calories are a lot less. If you use mainly vegetables, you can add an apple or kiwi for some flavor. You can also balance out your juice by adding protein—Greek yogurt, ground flaxseed, peanut butter, and almond milk are all good sources.

A word of caution: If you decide to try juicing, make only as much juice as you can drink at one time. Fresh squeezed juice can quickly develop harmful bacteria. And when juicing, try to keep some of the pulp. Not only does it have healthy fiber, but it can help fill you up.

If you would like to learn more about juicing and healthy eating join us on Thursday April 14th at 6:30 pm for a free event at our office.  Certified health coach and Vegan Luke Davis will be sharing insight on gut health followed by a healthy happy hour with juices and smoothies.  Call us at 610-741-6700 to schedule a consultation!