‘Tis the season to enjoy the plentiful fruits and vegetables from our gardens! It’s also a time when questions about juicing come up, a process that involves extracting juices from fresh fruit and uncooked vegetables as a part of the diet. Juice extractors grind food into small pieces that are spun to extract juice from the pulp. Juicing first became popular in the early 1990s, when proponents claimed that it could reverse everything from the natural aging process to chronic diseases such as cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (click the link or visit www.cancer.org), there is no convincing scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods. Learn more of the facts about juicing and how you can enjoy the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
How is it promoted for use? Juicing is promoted to enhance the immune system and prevent and treat a wide variety of conditions. The Internet abounds with promises of “glowing good health” from juicing. According to practitioners, “unnatural” foods cause imbalances in the body’s cell composition, imbalances that are corrected and rebalanced with the juices’ nutrients. Juicing is a method frequently used during long fasts or as part of the Gerson regimen (see Gerson Therapy). Some other proponents suggest juicing as a way to add more plant-derived nutrients to a person’s usual diet.
What is the evidence? A diet high in vegetables and fruits has been shown to reduce cancer risk and to improve overall health. There is no convincing scientific evidence, however, that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods.
- Available scientific evidence does not support claims that the enzymes from raw foods have special, health-giving properties, since they are broken down during digestion anyway.
- Juice extractors remove the fiber-containing pulp from the fruits and vegetables. Some proponents suggest eating the pulp from the juiced vegetables and fruits, to increase fiber intake.
- Some vitamins that are present in the raw food may be more available for nutrition as juiced foods are not heat treated.
Are there any possible problems or complications? Overuse of juicing or consuming excessive amounts of certain juices can cause diarrhea. Some health claims of ”cleansing” are by those who believe that “toxins” are removed from the body during this process. There is no evidence to support the theory or need for “cleansing”.
- The juices from fruits and starchy vegetables such as carrots or beets can contain a lot of sugar, which may be harmful for diabetics and can contribute to weight gain.
- Overall, however, juicing is considered safe when it is used as part of a healthy diet.
- Commercially juiced products should be pasteurized to kill harmful germs, which can cause serious infections in some people whose immune system has been weakened by cancer.
- Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
As with any question you may have about treatments, associated risks and/or benefits, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Sources: American Cancer Society;
Rhone Levin, Registered Dietician, St. Luke’s MSTI
For more information, including the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Test Kitchen’s database of healthy recipes, visit: