The juice craze: Is it actually healthy for you?

Juicing or blending? A how-to guide for smoothies

In 2013, we saw an increase in popularity of the so-called juice diet. But is it actually healthy for you?

The juice diet consists of one full meal a day while the rest of your meals are replaced with juice smoothies. One popular variation of the "diet" is the radical 80:10:10 vegan produce "detox" and another popular variation is the pure liquid diet popularized by the company, BluePrintCleanse.

The BluePrintCleanse offers raw, organic pre-made juicers sold in clean, artfully crafted bottles that make you feel healthier just by looking at them. 

The BPC offers three levels of intensity: Renovation, Foundation and Excavation. Their website asks, "Which is best for you?" with three sets of six bottles designed for beginners, intermediate and expert levels.

Certain people say they "forget" to eat after a while on the juicing diet although there is a raw food option. Doctors note with this diet that the intake of produce exceeds your daily requirement, lacking protein and roughage.

Experts are weary of the "promised" health benefits from the juice craze.

Doctors want to advise that there is a difference between consuming a daily smoothie to add balance to your diet and completely changing your eating habits to revolve around a liquid-based diet. 

Although vegetables and fruits are the healthiest option of many so-called diets or cleanses, it is something that we should already incorporate into our diets. 

Juicers that claim to "detox" your body, may help attribute to the cleanse but your liver is already in the process of detoxifying your body -- that's its job! Your bowel self-cleanses and your organs work together to make all of this happen, on it's own.

Doctors say that those on a juice craze will miss out on vital nutrients essential for our bodies to function and fight off fatigue.

Experts have noted that unprocessed foods add health benefits for those who eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as raw or "clean" food options. It's healthier than other options, they say, but there must be a balance.

A nearly all-fruit diet is lacking in many of the essential elements of food that make us feel satiated, energized and happy, such as zinc, iron and B-12, according to an analysis by Women's Health magazine.

"A diet that's just 10 percent fat severely restricts your intake of nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and other foods that are good for your skin, hair, immune system, mental functioning, and brain health," Elizabeth Boham, R.D., M.D., M.S., a physician at The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts told Women's Health.

Experts say that a juice cleanse every once and a while is OK, but drastically changing your diet can cause you more harm than good.

The cleanses can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, leaving you feel hungry, lethargic and can eventually lower your metabolism making it harder to maintain weight. Doctors say that the liquid juice diet may alter your mood in the process.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein should make up almost all of your meal, along with grains. Eating actual food is part of your daily recommended diet.

Juicing or Blending? How to make healthy smoothies

Juices and smoothies are different by definition. How do you know which is better?

It comes down to personal preference, although there are some technical differences between the two.

Juicing is a process that extracts water and nutrients from produce using a special juice extractor. During this process, some nutrients and fiber are stripped from the fruits and vegetables. On the plus side, it provides for more fruits and vegetables to be consumed faster and easier, making some nutrients more readily available for digestion in your body.

Blending, or making a smoothie, is considered more of a meal made with a blender. Blending allows for whole fiber retention, blood sugar stabilizers to regulate your system, full nutrition and can cost you less in the long run, while giving you similar, if not, better results.

There are six steps to crafting the perfect smoothie (dependent upon your preferences):

  1. Choose a base:
    Skim, almond or soy milk. Natural fruit juice, like orange juice. Iced green tea. Coconut water or milk.
  2. Add at least two types of fruit:
    -Bananas: Provides potassium, vitamin B6 along with others. Helps to prevent high blood pressure and eye health.
    -Berries: (all provide hunger-quelling fiber with antioxidants) such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries.
    -Peaches: Contain a rich source of vitamin C with phenolic compounds that prevent the oxidization of LDL cholesterol,
    -Kiwi: Contains antioxidants that protect our DNA from oxidative damage, high in vitamin C to boost immune system and contains actinidain, a protein-dissolving enzyme to help digest meals.
    -Pineapple: Contains bromelain, an enzyme to help arthritis by reducing inflammation. High in vitamin C to strengthen immune system.
  3. Add vegetable:
    -Kale: The all-hailed super green. High in fiber, vitamin K, A and C, iron and calcium. Kale is filled with carotenoids and flavonoids to protect against cancers. One cup of kale is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and had more calcium than milk.
    -Spinach: Contains flavanoids and glycoglycerolipids which help the lining of the digestive tract, with 200 percent of your daily value of vitamin K to help bone health.
  4. Thicken:
    -Nut butter: Peanut butter or PB2 "powdered peanut butter," or almond butter.
    -Yogurt: Greek yogurt is an excellent sources of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12.
    -Ice Cubes: For colder, thicker shakes. Adds H2O.
  5. Flavor:
    -Honey: Contains flavonoids, antioxidants which reduces heart disease. All natural honey is an anti-bacterial.
    -Cinnamon: Regulates blood sugar, reduces LDL cholesterol levels and is effective against ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria. It also contains fiber, calcium, iron and manganese.
    -Nutmeg: Has been noted to relief digestive problems. Contains myristicin, which helps brain function and contains oil that helps muscular and joint pain.
  6. Power boost:
    -Protein powder: Use whey protein, as opposed to soy. Casein protein is a slow-acting protein that can help provide longer lasting amino acid support.
    -Bee pollen: Contains carbohydrates, protein and vitamin B to keep you going. It can also help smooth skin and assist the digestive tract.
    -Ground Flaxseed: High omega-3 fatty acid (ALA), contains lignans with fiber-like benefits and mucilage gums which supports the intestinal tract.
    -Goji berries: Contains beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which help eyesight and boost immune function.
    -Green or black tea: (Mentioned above) adds natural caffeine.

There are substitutions and additions for all categories above, to fit your diet preference.

Carrots, broccoli, avocado, apples, mango, parsley, squash, cucumbers, grapes, oats, pomegranate seeds, eggs and celery are some healthy additions. 

Find smoothie recipes on my Pinterest page.

Do you juice or blend? Which do you like better? Comment below or tweet at me to share your thoughts! @jandreasik

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