There are lots of new diet fads popping up all the time, some good, some bad, some indifferent… Usually they have all been spruced before… Just like fashion trends, diets come and go, some last a little longer and some are gone almost as soon as they were in.
The truth is, lots of these diets are actually based around a little bit of truth, but their promotion and advertising, usually done by those who don’t understand the research or science behind the idea, often promise miraculous results and mind blowing efficiency.
One such diet that I have been watching for a while now, is actually not so much a diet, but a food buzz around something in particular… Green Juice…
A quick google search will quickly offer you a number of benefits from this magic drink. From curing cancer, detoxing and cleansing, to goodness delivered straight to your cells because of decreased digestion… But the reality is, they are not all they are cracked up to be… and in some ways they can actually be more of a hinderance then good…. but before we get that, lets just clear a few things up:
- There is no diet/juice/miracle food that will curer cancer. Believe me I have looked and if there was, I would tell everyone… and I would be very rich. Good nutrition is important to maintain strength and wellbeing during cancer treatment, and in some cases good nutrition can assist in preventing cancer, but there is no one food that will magically take it away. I wish there was, but there isn’t, green juices are not the exception to this rule.
- Juice does’t cleans or detox The jury is still out on detoxing, but the reality is regardless of what we eat our food is broken down through the same system. Our gastrointestinal tract… it has one liver and some kidneys whose greatest purpose in life is to detox the body… and you guessed it, they do this to the green juice too. Juice cannot not actually remove any toxins itself, and depending on how concentrated it is can actually just make your body work harder than if you had eaten the ingredient raw. As a side note, because the ingredients of green juice are… juiced… they also loose some of their ability to cleanse and clean out. This idea is basically looking at a good bowel… making sure what goes in, comes out and does so regularly this system relies on fibre to work and much of the fibre from the ingredients in green juice are removed or prematuraly broken down during the juicing process.
- Green Juice is Digested… As you may have guessed from number 2… Green juice is in fact digested. Everything we consume is digested, in fact the act of chewing or in the case of drinking… swallowing is part of the digestion process… these nutrients are delivered to the cells of the body the same way everything else is… via digestion. If something went straight to our cells we wouldn’t need to drink it… we could simply bath in it to get the full affect… but that’s not what happens, we drink, we digest, and the nutrients are delivered just as efficiently as any other food.
There are a few other things about Green Juice that worry me just a little. While they do contain lots of vitamins and minerals they are deficient in key macro-nutritients that our bodies require to function. These are called macro-nutrients because we require ‘macro’ or larger amounts of them, than the micronutrients offered by a juice. So when a juice is regularly used as a meal replacement, we miss out on protein and fat that we need (yes, fat is an essential part of the diet).
If we consume the juice with a meal, e.g. as part of breakfast we also get the additional energy provided by the juice… (an average cup of green juice contains somewhere between 335kJ and 502kJ (80 and 120 calories) this is roughly equivalent to a tub of low fat yogurt (427kJ)). Extra energy in, if not burnt. will eventually lead to weight gain, so the addition of green juice to an individual’s regular diet will not assist with weight loss…
Generally speaking Australian’s struggle to get enough fibre in the diet. Good bowel health is important for so much more than regality, and fibre is crucial to this. While you may be able to fit the volume of 3 serves of vegetables into a green juice, because of the fibre lost through juicing, it will only ever be equivalent to 1 serve of veg… thats a lot of work for 1 serve.
So what’s the alternative… well there is a place for the occasional juice, especially for the fussier few who don’t really include any vegetables, as juiced vegetables are better than none at all… but can you get the same amount of vitamins and minerals without juice? Of course! How? Well you eat the greens (and other vegetables) normally, include them as a regular part of the diet. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that women consume 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit daily, for Men it’s 6 serves of Veg (19-50yrs) and 2 fruits… What’s a serve? 1/2 cup of cooked veg, or a 1 cup of salad. A nice way to work towards this is to aim to have half of your dinner plate vegetables.
Remember that the vitamins and minerals are not enhanced by juicing, they are always there in the food… Make sure you include fruits and veg at every meal because the reality is, one great day of intake doesn’t give you your vitamins for the week… if you don’t need these extra vitamins on the day, your body will dispose of them anyway. Most of them aren’t stored up for a rainy day, they need to be consumed daily… so just eat your greens… and oranges… and yellows… and reds… and purples… get a little bit of everything and you’ll actually find you will have all you need.
It’s not magic,
It’s not special,
It’s just regular food…
Em – your friendly Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).