Although juicing is all the rage among proponents of alternative living, alarm bells are sounding from the medical community about how this strict liquid diet of vegetables and fruits can actually be dangerous for our health.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the practice, juicing involves a process of stripping all solid matter from raw fruits and vegetables by squeezing out their juices. Proponents hawk a variety of different blends which they say provide a person with a super-charged concoction of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc. People are encouraged to juice as a supplement, or as their main diet for a specific period of time, which has resulted in a booming industry of juicing-related products and regimens.
But is it safe?
According to this article, published by the Daily Mail, experts are warning the public to use caution when juicing because it is not only ineffective in “cleansing” the body as advertised, but it could also cause long-term harm to the body.
In particular, studies cite the use of whole citrus fruits in juicing blends which have been linked to migraines. A 2004 study found that when orange juice is squeezed with the rind on, it releases synephrine which is a vasoconstrictor meaning that it narrows blood vessels. Citrus fruits also cause a deficiency in magnesium deficiency and a deficiency in this mineral has been linked to migraines.
But the problems with juicing diets can be even more serious.
“In the longer term, health consequences could be serious, including problems with fertility, metabolism and even liver damage,” explained Sioned Quirke, a lead specialist dietitian in obesity and diabetes. “Fruit and vegetables contain plenty of essential vitamins and minerals but they are low on important amino acids, fat and protein. The link to sub-fertility and juicing diets is not clear but it is true that women who want to conceive a child need to have optimum health to have peak fertility which you may not have if your on a restrictive diet,” Ms Quirke said.
Even though a juicing diet can result in weight loss, there can be unpleasant side effects like high sugar levels on blood.
“Without adequate intake of protein, you can’t maintain muscle mass, so long term juicing can lead to muscle wastage,’ Ms Quirke said.
Juicing recipes use algae like chlorella to boost protein levels, but these are low compared to other food sources, she added.
Juicing is also said to cleanse the body of toxins, but the idea of cleanses – whether by juicing diets or other means – has been thoroughly debunked by science. This is because the body already has a built-in cleansing device – known as the liver and the kidneys. As long as these organs are in working order, no additional “detox” is needed.
In addition to the physical dangers, there are many advocates of juicing who attach a very New Age spiritual aspect to this diet.
For example, this proponent of juicing writes: “Another interesting by-product is that when the brain has nothing to chomp on, it becomes really quiet inside your mind naturally. This opens you up spiritually to experiencing a more enlightened state of consciousness.”
This proponent feels the same way. “Today’s cold-press juices, nut milks and probiotic supplements promise not only glowing skin, but also a path to enlightenment. Here’s how to find your life force in a bottle.”
This is not to say that we can’t whip up a cup full of fresh fruit and veggie juice when the urge for a healthy snack strikes. It’s also a great way to get in your daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables if you’re not particularly fond of plant foods. Just remember that juicing eliminates all the fiber in these foods which means it won’t do much to quench your appetite.
The bottom line is that there hasn’t been enough research done on juicing to back up the claims being made about its benefits. While there is research linking juicing with a boost in the immune system, any benefits are believed to be coming from the fruits and vegetables, whether they’re in the form of juice or whole fruit.
Consumers should avoid long-term juicing regimens and be sure to consult with their doctor before starting one of these diets.