New Year resolutions are in full swing, and everyone is exercising, changing diets, detoxing, and juicing like there’s no tomorrow. Not to mention that after the Golden Globes the other night, we are all wistfully thinking about fitting into those gorgeous dresses and suits, and hankering after that ridiculously perfect glow all the stars seem to carry around with them like handbags.
In light of this, today’s topic is juicing.
Drinking vegetable juices can be incredibly healthful – they are packed full of nutrients and phytochemicals like antioxidants, pigments, vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients aid many bodily processes including detoxing, bone maintenance, skin health, disease and cancer prevention, and quick nutrient delivery in compromised digestion issues such as IBS or leaky gut. They are super easy to add to your daily food intake, are hydrating, and help you get in some of those 9 cups of vegetables as recommended by Dr. Terry Wahls.
But does juicing have a downside? Potentially.
When we juice a vegetable or fruit, we’re taking away all of the insoluble fibre and potential proteins of that food. What this means to our health is that though we can now get a mega dose of the micronutrients (a great plus), we may also create a spike in glucose, equivalent to consuming white sugar. That potential for a glucose spike depends partially on how much soluble fibre is left in the juice. A spike in glucose causes a subsequent spike in insulin, and always ends in a crash about an hour later (consider a child after a birthday party or halloween – total meltdown!).
Don’t get me wrong – we need glucose in our bodies to function. But we need glucose in a steady, sustained amount so that we can perform normal bodily functions with ease. Sustaining glucose levels has been shown to prevent overeating, fatigue, brain fog, diabetes, and can aid in IBS or other digestive disorders.
Happily, there are a few super simple ways to prevent a glucose spike from your lovely, nutrient-rich vegetable juice, so no need to throw out your juicer quite yet!
1) Avocado – blending a quarter or half of an avocado can help sustain glucose levels as its fat content and fibre slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Avocado is a very healthful fruit due to the fibre, higher monounsaturated fat ratio, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B6, K, and potassium. It even has a small amount of protein.
2) Lime – this tasty citrus has the amazing benefit of lowering blood glucose levels through their soluble fibre. This is the same for all citrus, however limes also happen to have the least sugar content of all citrus fruits, so is a better addition to a health-promoting juice. Adding the juice and pulp of one lime to your fruit or veggie juice will help balance out any potential glucose rush.
These powerhouse fruits have many more benefits than preventing spikes in blood sugar, so consider featuring them in more of your meals. They also pair together so deliciously! I love avocado oil and lime juice as a salad dressing, or lime and cumin in guacamole, or avocado smeared over grilled chicken and topped with fresh cilantro and a luscious squeeze of lime.
Other ways to reap the benefits of juicing include:
1) Adding psyllium husk to you juices may not taste amazing, but will slow absorption and balance blood sugar while making your colon happy. Psyllium husks are mostly insoluble fibre.
2) Make smoothies – either from whole fruit and veg with non-dairy milk, or use your juice as the liquid base and add healthy fats and fibre such as hemp seeds, chia, coconut or hemp oil, and blending in a whole fruit or veg of choice (avocado, berries, etc.)
3) Consume your juice alongside a balanced meal. This is one of my favourite ways to drink my juices. I know I will avoid a glucose spike from the juice because of the fibre, fats, and protein in my meal. A tasty veg juice is a great way to increase the micronutrient and antioxidant content of a meal.
4) If you suffer from IBS or other digestive issues, starting your day off with warm water and a veggie juice helps many people wake up their GI tracts in a gentler way. Veggie juices provide quick and easy absorption of vitamins and minerals, even through a compromised gut lining, so they can be a useful tool for keeping energy levels up and staying nourished. If blood sugar is an issue, following your morning juice with a light, easy to digest meal within the hour will help prevent crashes.
5) Juice is a supplement to a balanced diet! Treat it as such and keep consumption to a shot with or between meals, as you would consume a B vitamin, probiotic or kombucha.
*A note on juice fasts or cleanses: I believe a juice cleanse to be better than a water fast, however, cleansing and fasting is so dependent on the individual and their needs and does not suit everyone. I suggest keeping fasts short (not going for more than 24 hrs), or better yet, try a simple diet cleanse and include simple foods such as broth, well cooked veg, and some light, easy to digest protein for optimal nutrient retention along with your reset.