Body & Soul

Juicing has become the latest diet trend, but does it really work?

Dr. Luiza Petre

Medi-Weightloss' Dr. Luiza Petre, cardiologist and nutrition expert, shares her thoughts on juicing. 

Juicing has become a chic viable contender in the diet industry over the past several years. Controversial because it’s not as healthy or sustainable as eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. So if your diet includes only fresh fruit and vegetable juice, without other food for several days, that’s an extreme approach that can do more harm than good.JuicesA nutritious juice can be beneficial for your health. Limiting your diet to strictly juices for weeks is not the magic solution the fanatics are claiming it to be. Moreover, there is very little research to support the health claims made by juicing companies.Juicing is the process that is blended instead of pressed, which extracts out most of the healthy fiber and some antioxidants found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables. For instance, the white pulp in an orange provides flavonoids (antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and immune system boosts) that are left behind.Fiber has a significant role in the body. It is the indigestible component of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Juice doesn’t offer fiber, and the body absorbs fructose sugar more easily, affecting blood-sugar levels. Fiber moves quickly through your digestive tract and helps it function properly. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Meeting the daily recommended fiber intake may reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and help lower your cholesterol.JuicesResearch shows that whole fruits are more beneficial than juice for preventing diabetes and help satisfy daily fiber requirements. Substituting juice with a banana, apple, or orange resulted in a 25% to 32% increase in fiber, research suggests.Many juice diets involve consuming no protein at all, or at most a minuscule amount which is not sufficient for the proper body functioning. Your body needs a daily supply of protein to build healthy immune cells and regenerate muscle tissue. Reputable nutritionists believe that juicing diets are not harmful for a few days, but someone may get sick due to the lack of fiber and protein. This could affect older adults who are more susceptible to infections because they may already have lowered protein stores.While juicing is probably low-calorie compared to chips and sodas, it is still a very concentrated source of calories. For example, a cup of pineapple is about 83 calories, but a cup of pineapple juice is 120 calories. You might not realize how much sugar you’re consuming when you drink fruit juice. In fact, 8 oz. of apple juice contains 29 grams of sugar, whereas 8 oz. of cola contains only 27 grams of sugar. The truth is that juicing diets load you with empty calories.

Allowing too many calories can fill you up without supplying the nutrients your body needs to function properly. When done for ten days, the empty-calorie intake could send the body into starvation mode, meaning it will try to conserve calories by slowing down your metabolism, resulting in difficulties losing weight in the long term. When people exclude their favorite foods from their diet for a period, they tend to reward themselves afterward, which can often lead to overeating. The vast majority of calories taken off during the juicing diet are mostly water weight, and will probably be gained once your everyday eating habits resume.

In other words, you cannot simply drink your way to health and your dream weight.  ■

DR. LUIZA PETRE: Cardiologist and medical director of three Medi-Weightloss® clinics, a physician-supervised weight loss program. She lives and practices in New York.
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