Viral health fads are a by-product of our hectic lives; we embrace shortcuts to weight loss and detoxification. However, such fads, that range from brutally stringent to plain bizarre, spur more furious debate than tangible evidence of success. Madhurya Manohar dissects one such fad that has created a billion-dollar industry: juicing
Juicing, at the forefront, seems rather simple. It is the formula we have embraced for years, the importance of fruit and vegetables, compressed into a tasty drink to down on the go. You reap the alleged health benefits of clean eating while not wasting an y time at the gym. They say diet is the most important, after all. However, this fairly basic idea has been heavily criticized by the same health and nutrition industry that it purports to be part of. It has created a money-spinning empire from juicers, juice-cleanse retreats, juicing gurus, published books, celebrity endorsements and more.
The current unravelling of juice cleanses is not entirely new; it has been around as far as the 1930s when alternative-health practitioner Norman Walker invented the Norwalk juicer. In 1940, Stanley Burroughs invented the Master Cleanse that involves mixing lemon juice, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. It stayed on path for a few decades before making a giant comeback in 2010 when Australian filmmaker Joe Cross documented his two-month juice fast in Fat, Slick and Nearly Dead; the fast helped him combat a chronic autoimmune disease and his obesity.
While the pitch seems feasible, it lacks some strong anchors according to nutrition and health experts. Dr. Daamini Srivastav, founder of The Rye Life and a fitness expert, is strictly against what she views as a marketing ploy. “[Juicing] is not the answer to everything. It is marketed as an idea that you can wash away calorific sins—an antidote to fast food. It has no carbs, no fiber, no protein and no fat; it does not give you a balanced diet,” she says.
The lack of nutrients in such juices is attributed to how they are made. Healthy juices, like organic smoothies, are made in blenders while the juice under dispute is made in a juicer. The blades shred the insoluble fibre and pulp that constitutes a significant portion of nutritional content. While you still receive some soluble fibre, it is the insoluble fibre that progresses digestion along the best.
In addition, it takes more fruit to juice than for normal consumption. As fruits are high in sugar content, juicing them produces a heavy concentration of fructose. Since this particular sugar has no catalysing hormone, the liver is forced to break it down—increased fructose levels can become liver fat, translate to diabetes or heart disease and clog arteries. According to Dr. Srivastav, the high fructose levels will also cause you to crash within the hour and you can end up binge eating to compensate for the body’s required nutrients.
Finally, health experts have long endorsed the importance of muscle gain over fat loss for optimal weight loss. A juice diet compromises on muscle gain because it lacks protein; without enough protein, the body is forced to draw its quota from the muscle. Without muscle, metabolism decreases and it becomes harder to shed pounds. Your juice diet may just be the source of your problems rather than the means to your goal.
If you are adamant about the detoxifying benefits of juicing, there are creative ways to bulk up its nutrient content—which keeps you fulfilled and healthy. For example, use discarded pulp in your other foods, to ensure you are still getting fibre. You can mix some good protein in, such as peanut butter, Greek yoghurt, flax seed or almond milk. Plenty of other ingredients such as kale, lychees, peaches, almonds, sweet potatoes can also be thrown in for your dose of vitamin, iron, potassium, and antioxidants.
Dr. Srivastav herself keeps her juices high-powered with ingredients such as blackberries, that are high on antioxidants and low in sugar, raspberries, chia seeds, and baby spinach. “I make myself a liquid fruit salad that keeps me full for 2-3 hours and is still healthy,” she says.
While juicing remains firmly rooted in multiple debates about its health value, it is clear that juicing is most dangerous in its obsessive form. While juices are definitely a better alternative to abate cravings for a box of cookies or a bar of chocolate on the go, they cannot replace your main meals. “Juicing in the long term can damage your villi, which are the intestinal cells that absorb your food. Anorexics and bulimics have eroding villi,” Dr. Srivastav says.
Given the dangers attached to the juicing trend, it is best to conduct extensive research and consult your dieticians before embarking on a juice cleanse or a juice diet. The concept of detox alone has often been hotly disputed since nothing will entirely reverse the junk food you devoured at lunch and dinner. Tread carefully if you are determined to take the risk.
INGREDIENTS AND THEIR BENEFITS
Kale: One cup of raw kale has 3g of protein, 2.5g of fiber, which makes you feel full, and Vitamins A, C and K
Green grapes: Low in calories, contain zero grams of fat and have 1.4g of fiber and 104 calories in just one cup. They also contain powerful antioxidants.
Cucumbers: Source of Vitamin K, B and C, with a good dose of potassium and other nutritional elements that can reduce risks of chronic diseases.
Red apples: Apples have a fiber called pectin so a medium-sized apple contains 4 g of fibre. An apple a day can protect against Parkinson’s, curb cancer, reduce cholesterol among other health benefits.
Blueberries: The antioxidant-fuelled fruit has fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. The fiber specifically helps lower cholesterol in the system.
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A, B and C in addition to potassium, dietary fiber, and niacin. They ensure a balanced source of energy as well.
Carrots: Carrots have beta carotene and high fiber content as well as antioxidant agents. They also have vitamin A, C and K in good doses in addition to potassium, iron, copper and manganese.
Beetroot: A great ingredient to use in juice because it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, carbs, protein, antioxidants and of course, Vitamins A, B6 and C.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds have become very popular for their omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium content.
Ginger: Ginger is a great digestive in addition to being an antidote for inflammation, nausea and muscle ache. It is also good for reducing obesity and alleviating blood sugar levels.