9. Jun, 2017

What's 'the juice' on Juicing?

Many of the erroneous messages of the juicing fad of the 60s & 70s sadly persist among Baby Boomers and their predecessors, - known as the Traditionalists or Silent Generation. I see them on social media and hear it from my own father - a health nut since at least the early 1970s. He still consults an over 60 year old 'juice therapy' book (Lust 1959) which contains 'special combinations of juices' as a cure for just about every imaginable ailment.

Pseudoscience has been around for a long time. Needless to say that it did not stop him from getting Type 2 diabetes. Admittedly due in part to genetics, but as a nutrition scientist I can't help consider the epigenetics - ie that all that fruit juice very probably contributed to when and/or if it reared it's ugly head. It also hasn't stopped many of his generation from succumbing to our biggest killers - cardiovascular disease and cancer, and in particular bowel cancer (ABS 2016).

I'll get straight to the point: Fruit juice is not good for you. Eating pieces of whole fruit is.  Juice excludes the most beneficial parts of fruit - the fibre and many of the phytonutrients. Fruit & vegie smoothies are better because those nutritious components are still included. Which makes it great for the sick or the elderly who have trouble chewing & can't/don't want to eat too much, because it gives them a lot of energy & nutrients quickly & with little digestive effort. 

For the majority of the Australian population however, it's the opposite of what we need. I think everyone is now aware that, like the U.S and U.K, we have a very high incidence of chronic diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Thanks to an abundance of available food, we eat a lot and often don't make the best choices.  We displace nutritious foods with discretionary foods like pastries, biscuits and savoury 'junk' food.  After all, the best tasting food to humans is that which is high in fat and sugar, and we are programmed to seek out high energy yielding foods for our very survival. 

But it's also the type of food that's at the root of our deteriorating health. The amount of energy we consume far exceeds our needs and takes a toll on our internal organs. Out of sight, should NOT be out of mind. What you put in your mouth matters a great deal in the long term.  How does juice fit in? It's contributing to the excess energy most of us are consuming. It’s the last thing we need to remain/get healthy. Like a lot of discretionary food, it delivers a large amount of sugar in a very short period of time, and our poor pancreas has to work overtime to deal with it. Little wonder so many of us are insulin resistant. What we need is to eat more vegetables, legumes, nuts and wholegrains, in as whole a state as possible. That slows down the digestive process, which is important for a couple of reasons:

1) Nutrients are released slowly, in a manner that doesn't place any undue strain on vital organs such as the liver and pancreas. This results in stable blood sugar, which means no post-lunch energy crash around 3pm. 

2)We feel fuller for longer (satiety), and that helps with weight loss or maintenance of ideal body weight because we won't feel the need to eat as much or as often. 

5-6 serves of veg a day is actually not as hard as you might think. It sounds like a lot, but serves are actually quite small if you look at the image on the left (Live Lighter 2017). Dividing them between lunch and dinner is a common approach, but some people prefer to include some veg as snacks for morning and/or afternoon tea.

What is admittedly quite hard, is setting the time aside to plan meals. We tend to not prioritise food, grabbing what we can get our hands on so we can get on with what we think are more important things.  We need to change this mindset if we are to live long and healthy lives. There are no quick fixes. We need to get back to the way people used to eat for the majority of our meals. Fresh produce, cooked at home, with ingredients as minimally processed as possible. The French eat a lot of food which we have in the past considered fattening - full fat cheese, red wine, deliciously creamy sauces and decadent desserts. But they don't share our health issues, and this is known as the French Paradox. Like the Blue Zone Ikarians, they eat good quality food slowly, enjoying every bite within a social setting that prioritises eating. I think we can learn a lot from them both.

Carrot, capsicum, cucumber or celery sticks with hommus, anyone? There's a couple of serves of veg right there! 

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Causes of Death, Australia, 2014, cat.no. 3303.0, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2014~Main%20Features~Summary%20of%20Findings~1

Live Lighter 2017, Go for 2 Fruit & 5 Veg factsheet, https://livelighter.com.au/Top-Tips/Go-For-2-Fruit-and-5-Veg

Lust, JB 1959, Raw Juice Therapy, Harper Collins, New York