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Juices, smoothies can be good ways to consume fruits and veggies

We know that adding more fruits and veggies into our diets are good for us but how do we get more in?
Truthfully, there is no magic formula. There are many ways to do it.
Making smoothies and juices are two specific ways many people suggest getting in the fruits and veggies. In fact, there are whole diets created out of just juicing or smoothies. But which one is “best?” You will find the answer to that has much to do with your digestion and the dollar investment you may want to make. Let’s take a look at differences between juicing and making a smoothie including the pros and cons of each and how each might fit into a healthy diet.
Including veggies and fruits into your diet is healthy because of two main things: the compounds they contain (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, detoxification and anti-inflammaroty properties) and because of the fiber in them (more on that in a moment). Both homemade juices and smoothies have different effects on these compounds and fiber. Depending on your digestion and nutrient demands, you can decide which one suits your needs best.
Juicing. Juicing, simply put, is extracting the liquid component from fruits, vegetables and herbs. It is essentially, plant expresso. The skins, pulp and flesh are left behind while the liquid is collected.
There are several methods of extraction: centrifugal, mastication, and cold press. A centrifugal juicer basically spins at an incredibly high rate and throws the produce against a bladed screen. Masticating juicers use an auger to pull the produce down into a screen as it spins. A true cold press juicer literally chops and then presses the produce, extracting the liquid that way, like an apple press. It does not create much heat because there are no fast-moving parts (heat can damage some of the vitamins) and it leaves little to no foam or pulp.
These different methods have varying degrees of waste products left. Juicers are nifty machines and can cost close to $60 for a basic grade one up to several hundreds of dollars.
As I said earlier, the benefit of juicing is that you are consuming “plant expresso” of sorts. The juice contains vitamins, minerals and some of the phytochemicals (plant colors that are full of antioxidants). When you juice, you are able to take in more of the components (sugar, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that you would likely be able to do if you ate the whole food itself.
Who, in one sitting, consumes six carrots, one lemon, two stalks of celery, a handful of broccoli and an apple and a pear? No one. Yet with juicing, you can consume the nutrients from all these foods quickly. What makes these nutrients easy to digest is due to the complete removal of the plant fiber.
If you have digestive issues or if your nutrient needs are elevated (say as in cancer treatment), then juicing can really help. There is no delay in getting the nutrients from the plants. If your body doesn’t seem to tolerate whole plant foods or you have gastrointestinal conditions caused by surgery or health conditions, then juicing allows you to get the nutrients without the digestive complaints.
Some people juice instead of eating a meal. They do a juice fast or detox, etc. People use it to lose weight and treat cancer.
While I won’t refute that it can help with some of those, there are some “bigger picture” things to consider for the general public. Juicing isn’t satiating like eating whole food is. It doesn’t fill you up the same and, if you put more fruits than veggies in it, it has the potential to spike and crash your blood sugar. If you are only consuming the juice and nothing else that contains protein or fat, you will likely end up more hungry (and possibly “hangry” if your blood sugar spikes and drops rapidly.)
Another consideration is that the very thing that can be a benefit of juicing to some (quick digesting nutrients) also becomes its negative. Namely, juicing removes all fiber.
Fiber gets misunderstood a lot. It is not just the thing that helps you have a bowel movement. Also, not all fiber is the same.
Fibers are carbohydrates in plants that are indigestible to humans. You cannot absorb them. While your body doesn’t have the enzymatic mechanisms to break the fibers down, the microbes in your large intestines do. When you eat produce, the myriad of unique fibers are “eaten” by the microbes. One of the outcomes of your gut bugs digesting fiber is something called Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA). The three main SCFA (ace-tate, butyrate, propionate) have been shown to decrease inflammation and heal the gut lining. Studies have also shown that higher SCFA production directly increases immune system support.
If, on a daily basis (we aren’t talking about while undergoing certain treatments, etc.) you can’t handle plant fibers, then you may have a larger problem. It could be a structural issue with your GI tract, it could be slow gastric function due to other health conditions (Parkinson’s, thyroid disease, diabetes, etc.), it could even be bacterial dysbiosis and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO.)
Smoothies. Like juices, smoothies are also easy to digest as the fiber present in the produce is broken down. It is, however, still present, so you will still get the benefit of eating the fiber. Smoothies can also feel more satisfying and more balanced with fiber, fats, carbs and proteins added to them, and they have a smaller risk of spiking your blood sugar (if done correctly).
Nut milks, yogurts, nut butters and protein powders are all common ingredient add-ins that increase creaminess, protein content and total calories. Smoothies can be a real digestive aid for those needing both calories and nutrients but who benefit from the fiber being a bit more broken down.
One downside to smoothies is that you can consume a lot of calories in a smoothie! Since it is easier to digest, it is simply easier to eat more (this is true any time you are eating liquid calories).
Blenders, like juicers, have a varied price point, ranging from basic versions under $100 to close to $500. A higher-quality one will yield smoother results than a cheaper one (which may not be able to blend certain veggies well.)
Are juices (and smoothies) the best way to consume more veggies? For some people, for a specific period of time, they might be the best way. However, for the general public and for long-term health, exclusive juicing or smoothie-making is not the best way, just a good way. Add juices or smoothies into the mix of what you do to nourish yourself but don’t make it all that you do.
If you think about it, we were given a set of blender blades, 32 of them to be exact – teeth! In most cases, they do a fantastic job too!

Juice and Smoothie Recipes

Basic Juice Recipes
By Paulina Chasse

Version 1
4 – 6 carrots
2 celery stalks
Handful of spinach
1 Fuji apple
Half D’Anjou pear

Version 2
4 – 6 carrots
2 handfuls broccoli
2 kale
1 Fuji apple
Half D’Anjou pear

Soak all in 1 T apple cider, 1 T baking soda, and 2 gallons of cold water for 30 minutes.
Cut the ends of carrots and remove the seeds from apples.
Juice, alternating from carrots and apple pieces and broccoli or celery and others until all are done. Drink immediately.

Cathryn’s Morning Green Smoothie
By Cathryn Arndt

1½ cup unsweetended coconut or almond milk
1 frozen banana
Half cup frozen fruit of choice (change it up seasonally!)
1½ T. all natural nut butter (no hydrogenated oils)
Several handfuls (2 cups) spinach or kale
* Sea salt, to taste
Optional – cilantro or parsley for a detoxing boost!
Optional – 1 inch knob peeled ginger root OR 1 tsp. ginger powder.
Put milk, kale, ginger and other greens (if using) in a blender and process for 30-60 seconds. Add pinch of salt, nut butter, and frozen fruits and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend until desired consistency is achieved. Drink immediately.
*While salting your smoothie might sound odd, it makes ALL the difference in the flavor! Salting anything that is extremely cold (frozen fruit, smoothies, even ice cream) will bring out the flavor tremendously! Don’t believe me? Try it!

– Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and owns a nutrition counseling business called The Pantry Lab LLC. Find her at thepantrylab.com or visit her Facebook page by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.”