Many plant-based food experts claim that fresh fruit juices contain too much sugar and are therefore unhealthy. One of the latest of these anti-fruit-juicing messages comes from the book, The Whole Foods Diet by John Mackey, the CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market.
His co-authors, healthy lifestyle coaches Dr. Alena Pulde and Dr. Matthey Lederman, famously featured in the popular documentary Forks Over Knives, are also favoring fresh fruit over fresh juice. In the book, Mackey et al says that fruit juices are not healthy because juicing removes the fiber from the fruits, and therefore they spike your blood sugar levels.
There is some truth in that message. But from my experience of supervising nearly a thousand juice cleanses over the past five years, I have never seen a relatively healthy person having problems with too much sugar in their juices. Even if sweet fruit juice is 60 or 70 percent of the juice content, you will experience the amazing benefits of juicing without spiking blood sugar levels. My experience is, in fact, that juicing is one of the most effective ways to cleanse the body of toxins and to feed it with much needed super-nutrients.
There are some people who need to be cautious, though: those with hypoglycemia and diabetes. If this is your issue, make sure a small part of your juices are made from sour fruits only: lemon, grapefruit, green apples and berries. Each person’s blood sugar sensitivity is different, so it is wise to consult your doctor before you start juice fasting.
I have seen quite a few diabetics do very well, though, and even radically improve, when the body’s digestive organs are cleansed with fresh juices. They seem to do especially well when a small amount of sour fruit juice is mixed with green vegetable juices.
The Glycemic Index of Some Fruit Juices
So how sweet are some of the fruit juices and vegetable juices? Not that sweet, actually. As an example, eight oz of carrot juice, one of the sweetest of all vegetable juices, has about 12 grams of sugar and a glycemic index (GI) of 43, which is relatively low. The GI index, from 0 to 100, measures the carbohydrate level in foods and how it effects blood sugar levels. Below 55 on the GI index is considered low and thus healthy. In contrast to carrot juice, a boiled potato has a GI index of 82.
Some fruit juices will have a little higher dose of sugar than carrot juice. Is that a problem? Not if you are relatively healthy and you consider the main purpose of juicing: to flood the blood stream with alkaline super-nutrients, so that you do not tax your digestive system. When our second brain, as the digestive system is called by some scientists today, is not busy digesting and taking care of our immune system, it takes time off to eliminate toxins instead.
So how sweet are some common fruit juices? Here is a list of some common fruit juices and their GI index:
Cranberry Juice: GI value: 56. Effect on blood glucose levels: medium
Grapefruit juice: GI value: 48. Effect on blood glucose levels: low
Orange juice: GI value: 53. Effect on blood glucose levels: low
Pineapple juice: GI value: 46. Effect on blood glucose levels: low
The Benefits of Fresh Juices and Juice Fasting
Fresh fruit juices are so good for us, says Professor Joe Millward, Director of the Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety at the University of Surrey, UK, that even the best vitamin supplements “cannot begin to match the nutritional complexity of a fresh fruit and veg juice.” He says that juicing is “a good way of sneaking all the goodness of fruit and vegetables into your diet.” So, in his opinion, “the juicer should be at the heart of everyone’s kitchen.”
When we cleanse the body and introduce it to the nutrients we often get the least of—the micronutrients from fruits and vegetable juices—we rejuvenate the body on a cellular level. Many studies have shown the amazing health benefits of juice fasting. Best of all, at the end of a few days juice fast, you’ll feel lighter, more focused, and a lot less aches and pains.
In John Mackey’s book there are many great recipes, including one breakfast recipe called Oat Meal Fruit Shake, which contains 27 grams of sugar (from the recipe’s oatmeal, banana, apple, and coconut water contents). If you have 3-4 of those for breakfast once in a while, you’ll do fine, as this shake does contain many healthy nutrients.
But we are all creatures of habit. So, if you love this recipe, you may end up consuming this smoothie daily. In that case, you’ll ingest a lot of sugar, starches and carbohydrates for breakfast, which can, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, be hard on the digestive system. You would do much better to alternate your breakfasts with a juice instead.
So, rest assured, juicing, even with sweet fruit juices, is both healthy and safe. Simply because the juices are so easy to digest and thus gives the digestive system time to cleanse and rest. Here’s a simple juice formula: use more fruits in the juice in the morning than veggies and more veggies than fruits for lunch and dinner. If you are still concerned about your blood sugar, however, then simply use mostly veggies such as kale, celery, cucumber and fennel in your juices. And drink lots of water and herbal tea in between the juicy meals, as that will further alkalinize your body and induce a deep cleanse.
But, if you want to do a longer juice cleanse, and you find it difficult to juice on your own, you may want to learn more about juice fasting and its amazing benefits by joining one of our retreats here at the Prama Wellness center.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).