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Last week I provided you with 7 strategies to help you break free from soda addiction. Read that article here if you missed it or want a refresher. The contents of that post brought up a litany of questions regarding fruit juice, so this article provides you with my take on that topic. Also, as I did with that previous post, I am offering you a way to delve more deeply into understanding sugar and carbohydrates better by downloading those chapters from my book for free.
To Juice or Blend?
A common question I have gotten for years is, “Should I juice my fruit and veggies or blend them?” This is a very controversial conversation with strong opinions by experts on both sides. I take a commonsense approach, which I combine with my intellect and experience. One of the main benefits of juicing is, it enables a person to consume a large quantity of important vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). In fact, one glass of juice will contain many more times the amount of micronutrients than one piece of fruit. The reason is, once you remove the pulp of the fruit or vegetable, there is nothing left but liquid enabling you to consume more.
The problem is, the pulp contains the fiber which no longer exists when the fruit becomes juice. Without the fiber, the sugar in the fruit or vegetable can cause a spike in glucose levels.
Every carbohydrate affects blood sugar differently, so looking at the glycemic index of each food item can help determine the effect it will have on your blood sugar fluctuations. Major determining factors of a food’s glycemic index include the amount of fiber it contains, the micronutrient content, the ripeness of the fruit, fat content and whether the food is refined or not.
If you want a nutrient boost and a quick snack, juicing can be a good fit when done correctly. Be sure to prepare it with lower sugar containing veggies and fruit, such as kale, spinach, cucumbers and/or celery. If you must have an apple, make it a granny smith as studies have shown that they contain the most antioxidants and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.
If you are looking for a complete meal that will not typically cause a spike in glucose levels, I recommend blending your fruit and vegetables, and make a nutritious shake with proteins and healthy fats. My wife and I personally start approximately 350 mornings per year with a healthy shake for breakfast. If you want to see our protein shake recipe and see what proteins, fats and carbs we choose for our home, click here.
If you are a parent raising children, I would like to bring your attention to the downside of fruit juice. Many parents love to give their kids apple juice for example, and some have it in their toddler’s bottle to sip around for the day. The kids love it, and the parents think it is good for them because apples are good for them with lots of nutrients. So heck, what can be bad about apple juice? If you are one of those parents, hopefully by now you are starting to see a pattern and realize what is wrong with that thinking.
What is the difference between an apple and apple juice? Well an apple is crunchy, and juice is not. That stuff you bite into that makes an apple go crunch is the plant material, composed mostly of fiber. That fiber helps absorb the sugar in the apple and causes the fruit to have a lower glycemic index than the juice alone. While the juice does contain vitamins and minerals, it is still mostly sugar.
Kids that drink a lot of fruit juice are more likely to deal with hyperactivity issues, weight gain, diabetes and dental cavities. (Children who consume sugar, especially before school, tend to have difficulty concentrating in class and often get labeled as hyperactive.) I have no idea why schools still serve juice to kids during lunch or during after school programs. They are setting themselves up for failure, unless they want kids off the wall, hopped up on sugar. They are also setting the kids up for failure in the future, as those juices and the sugar within them are very addictive and create a habit that can easily lead to obesity and diabetes. Then the parents have to deal with either hyperactive kids if they recently consumed the juice, or kids who are crashing after the sugar high and don’t want to do anything active after school.
How much sugar?
So how much sugar is acceptable on a daily basis? Zero grams of sugar is acceptable for children under the age of two. For kids between the ages of 2 and 18 and adult women, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar, which is equivalent to approximately six teaspoons. For adult men, the recommendation is no more than 36 grams (nine teaspoons). To put that into perspective, a small 6.75 ounce box of organic apple juice with no additional sugar added, (you know, the size that a kid pops a straw into and sucks up in minutes) contains 22 grams of sugar on average. That is an entire day’s worth of sugar… and you know that most kids are consuming much more sugar than that in a day!
Sugar is sugar, and all sugar can affect the body in a negative way. However, the more fiber, vitamins, minerals and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) the food or drink contains, the less destructive it will likely be for the individual.