The juicing vs smoothies debate rages on! This is a question I get asked at least once a week in email, and while I do have some biases, which we’ll get into shortly, my standard answer is, “whatever works best for you.”
Some people are disappointed by this answer and I guess I can understand why, so I want to go further into depth than I ever have with this topic in an effort to help people understand the merits and drawbacks of each so they can make an informed decision.
Who among us doesn’t love fresh juice? It’s delicious, and when done right it can be a great additive to a healthy diet.
I say additive, because all too frequently I see people using juices in what I think is the incorrect way.
Benefits of Juicing
The proponents of drinking fresh juice claim it has many tremendous benefits. Check out the list below:
By looking at this list, it’s easy to see that juicing has many benefits that could lead to an increase in your overall health.
Oh, if it were only that simple. In the interest of fairness we need to discuss the other side of the coin.
Please see the list below for some of the points that the detractors of juicing would like us to consider.
As you can see, there are plenty of pros and cons regarding juicing, and also plenty of confusion to go around.
So what’s a person who wants to lose weight and get healthier supposed to do?
Stick around, my friends. We’ve only just begun!
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Perhaps you’ve heard of juicing’s little brother, the smoothie?
Smoothies have quickly gained in popularity dues to number of factors. They’re pretty easy to make, they lend themselves to our on-the-go lifestyles, and they are the closest thing to a meal-in-a-glass that you can get.
And just like juices, we need to examine the smoothie from every angle to uncover its good and not-so-good properties.
So it seems that smoothies would be a perfect addition to your daily routine, and if done right, could even be viewed as a meal replacement.
Whoa there, my friend. Not so fast.
Of course you know that we here on the Holistic Health Path absolutely must examine things from all angles, so let’s do that now.
See below for just some of the reasons why smoothies have earned the ire of some of those in the health community.
Again, both sides of the coin are represented so you can make an informed decision.
That’s what we’re all about here!
The Science of Juicing
All right, let’s get into the weeds now.
There’s a huge amount of scientific theory behind the scenes when it comes to juicing, and most of it is boring and tedious to investigate.
But hey, that’s why I’m here. I geek out on this stuff so you don’t’ have to. I’ll distill things down to just the essentials to save you time and a serious headache.
In the world of health and nutrition, information, and misinformation, abounds.
Anyone can do a Google search turn up plenty of stories of people that have successfully used juicing to cure all sorts of ills, from diabetes to cancer and everything in between.
It’s pretty damned hard to argue with Joe Cross.
These stories are encouraging and I couldn’t be happier for the people who have had their lives changes through proper nutritional choices, but for me and my health, both mental and physical, we must back up these stories with science.
There are many doctors and other health care professionals that will tell you juicing is not any healthier for you than consuming whole fruits and vegetables, and in fact it could end up begin less healthy.
An article on the esteemed Mayo Clinic website starts out with that bold statement and continues to support its point throughout the short piece.
Don’t believe the Mayo Clinic? Here’s another popular piece that explains the theory about juicing very well, and also covers both centrifugal and “cold press”, or masticating juicers.
These articles are both short reads and definitely worth your time, but please do come back here. We’re not done yet!
The Juicing Bottom Line
Ok, here’s the way I see it.
We know that juicing strips away the fiber from fruits and vegetables, no one will argue that fact.
If you think that’s okay, and that you get plenty of fiber from elsewhere in your diet, I would urge you to think again.
This article explains what the role of fiber is in your diet, and how critical it is not only to digestive health but overall health as well.
Why Fiber Is So Important
There are basically 2 types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Without getting too granular here, soluble fiber can be absorbed in water, while insoluble fiber cannot.
They both do different things in the body, but one of the major functions is making you feel full. Remember the satiety we talked about earlier?
That’s where fiber comes in. It can also sweep away cholesterol and plays a role in keeping your blood sugar stable.
In short, make sure you get the recommended dosage of 25 grams for adult females and 38 grams for males.
If you’ve ever juiced on your own and have been left with a big pile of leftover pulp afterwards, you’re probably wondering what to do with it.
Juicer aficionados are quick to recommend tossing this lump of leftovers into your muffin mix or into the soup you’re making for dinner.
It’s been my experience that those of us who have good intentions will at best refrigerate the pulp for a few days and then toss it into the garbage, which is probably what the majority us juicers are doing in the first place.
When it comes to fiber, there’s nothing like good old fashioned whole fruits and vegetables.
Have you ever noticed that smoothies are everywhere these days? And they’re not going away any time soon.
It’s not just a fad; they’re here to stay.
But are they worthy of all the praise and attention they’re getting?
In my opinion, yes, and I’ll explain below.
A Meal in a Glass
The world has gone nuts over smoothies, and there are plenty of reasons why. They’ve been given credit for curing diseases such as diabetes and cancer, clearing up resistant acne, smoothing out wrinkled skin, and even being responsible for life-changing weight loss.
It’s hard to argue with positive results, but is all this just hype, or are these claims backed up with science?
After doing exhaustive research, I have to say that things are pretty evenly split.
Please let me explain.
Smoothies as Medicine
You will find many claims on the Internet regarding the enormous benefits of smoothies. Some people report lowered blood sugar, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol numbers.
I believe them, and I also believe their results.
While smoothies may not be sole reason for their fantastic results, I firmly believe that smoothies can indeed be life changing, if done correctly.
They’re a fantastic way to work more greens into your daily diet if you just can’t stand the thought or arugula or Swiss chard on your plate.
For fussy eaters, they offer a meal accompaniment or even a meal replacement in a pinch.
For me, it’s because a lot of the fiber remains after blending. I believe it’s a more healthy way to drink your calories.
Remember that during juicing much of the fiber is stripped away and you’re robbed of the benefits of this vital part of our diet.
Smoothie Nutritional Value
Some opponents of smoothies will cite the fact that during the blending process your fruits and vegetables are exposed to air and heat, lowering their nutritional value.
That argument might make sense if you spin your smoothie for 2 or 3 minutes, but I’ve never done that and I’m betting you haven’t either. It’s just not necessary to blend that long.
And as for exposure to air and its effects, I believe they get the same amount of exposure, or maybe more, in your normal meal preparation, such as chopping, peeling, etc.
So I don’ really buy into those theories.
Keep on blending, folks!
Best Practices For Smoothies and Juicing
With all this being said, there are some best practices when it comes to working juicing or smoothies into your lifestyle.
First and foremost, make your own.
While I know you can get high quality products from small local shops, and I do from time to time, I recommend making your own juices and smoothies at home.
This will allow you to better control the process and ensure you’re getting the freshest and best ingredients.
Hey, it’s your health we’re talking about here, and you’re worth talking a little extra time and maybe even spending a little extra money.
Another important point I want to make is that people treat these sorts of drinks as a meal replacement, and I don’t believe that’s the correct way to use them.
Yes, every so often I have a smoothie for breakfast and that’s it, but that’s a rarity. And as for juice, I always use it as an accompaniment to a healthy meal, not as a replacement.
I don’t believe they give me the same satisfaction as solid food and if I end up consuming only liquids, I’m soon seeking out some solid food to go with it, and it’s not necessarily the healthiest food I can find, either.
I know, bad news…
Easy On The Sweets
Another important point I want to make is that I see far, far too many overly “sugary” smoothie and juice recipes on the Internet.
Sure, these drinks taste great and they may even make you feel like you’re doing the best thing for your health, but here’s the problem with overly fruity health drinks.
Juices and smoothies will too much fruit will send a rush of sugar into your bloodstream, much like eating a candy bar or drinking a normal soda pop might do.
Think of it this way. You wouldn’t sit down and eat 3 or 4 apples at one sitting, so why would you put that many into your juicer and then drink it down?
Limit your smoothies and juices to one fruit and use plenty of greens to be sure you don’t get an unintended sugar rush along with your “healthy” beverage.
Chew On This
It might sound crazy, but I, along with many other health bloggers and professionals, recommend that you chew all your juices and smoothies.
Yes, I’m aware how weird that sounds, but the act of chewing is what signals digestion to start, and it all start in your mouth with the release of digestive enzymes.
So don’t just chug things down, take your time and savor every “bite” of your juices and smoothies to get the maximum benefit of their goodness.
I want to thank you for hanging in there with me, I appreciate it. I hope you’ve learned a great deal after reading this article.
As you can probably tell, I lean slightly towards smoothies these days, although I still love my juices, too.
Juicing vs smoothies, the debate will rage on, but now you can make some informed decisions and get the best out of your daily nutritional intake.
To Your Ever Increasing Health!