Vegetables are good for you – fact. Is shoving them into a machine to extract only their inner juices good for you? Allow me to give you my perspective.
Whole vegetables, and fruits for that matter, are rich in vitamins and minerals, water, and fiber. They have been shown to be preventative against a multitude of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s no wonder us dietitian’s are permanently trying to literally shove them down your throats! There are two separate ideas here though, (1) consuming whole vegetables, and (2) drinking vegetable juices.
Let’s Talk About “the Stuff”
I previously mentioned that vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, and in fiber (A.K.A. “the stuff”). The major difference when it comes to eating whole vegetable versus drinking vegetable juice, is that you get the benefit of the fiber found mostly in their skins and/or in any seeds. Fiber is essential for gut motility and function, and provides the food for your healthy gut bacteria. This is why previously dietitians were ranting about choosing brown bread instead of white bread (whilst we should have been telling you to skip it entirely). We want you to get enough fiber. When you extract the juice from the vegetable and discard “the stuff” leftover, you are losing out on the fiber.
Final thoughts: Yes, you can get the fiber from other food sources and from eating more whole vegetables on top of your vegetable juice. Just be aware that you need “the stuff” in your diet, regardless of whether you are juicing or not.
Giving Your Liver, Kidneys and Digestive System a Break
This is a variation on one of the most punted statements regarding juice fasts. The idea being that your organs are so toxic from all the rubbish we have put into them over the years, that it is best to stop taking anything but vegetable juices to give these organs a breather. I have formulated my opinion on this matter based on my training in anatomy, physiology and the digestive system. Wholeheartedly I do agree that most of our bodies have been bombarded with toxins over the years, and it is recommended that we immediately stop loading ourselves with these to give our organs a break. That being said, I do not feel that you should deprive yourself of other nutrients such as protein, fats (and the fat-soluble vitamins) in the same process.
Final thoughts: Give your liver, kidneys and digestive system a break from all toxins in your diet i.e. processed foods with artificial flavorings, colorants, preservatives etc. However you need not give your system a break from Real Food and Real Nutrition.
Detoxing and Fasting
Your body is truly remarkable. You were designed with detoxification organs. In actual fact, as you are sitting and reading this your liver, and kidneys, and lymphatic systems are taking care of any toxins you may have ingested. By design, you are a detoxification machine. The best thing you can do is support your detoxification organs with a good diet, and you can consider adding in some targeted supplements (if necessary).
Essentially when doing a juice fast you are inevitably including vegetables and fruits. Stripped of the fiber content, all you are getting is carbohydrate and vitamins and minerals. I am all for healthy carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals, but I disagree with eliminating protein and healthy fats. When you experience weight loss on a juice fast, I hate to say it, but it is most likely water and muscle mass. You never want to decrease your lean muscle mass for any reason. Muscle tissue is highly metabolically active and largely responsible for our metabolic rate. Muscle tissue is also hugely protective on our joints and bones. You can see why fasting on nothing but vegetable juices for a number of days is something I do not endorse.
Final thoughts: You are a detoxification agent, you do not need a detoxification agent. Liver and kidney support is done through adding nutrients, and depriving your body of toxins. It is not done by depriving your body of nutrients and adding in strange supplements with erroneous claims.
I love vegetable juices. In fact, I had a delicious green vegetable juice this morning. They provide you with beneficial nutrients in a quick, ready to use form. However, I do not endorse skipping meals and living on only vegetable juices for a number of days. You will not be losing fat, you will be losing muscle mass and this is very unhealthy.
Do you agree with my verdict? Let me know in the comments.