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Meg is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. After going through high school thinking she “didn’t like to write,” she found her love for it her freshman year at college and it’s only deepened since then. Upon graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in Communication in 2013, she began working in online marketing for the hospitality industry. She currently splits her time between NYC, where she works, and NJ, where she lives—but hopes that one day she’ll be able to live & work in the same state (that’s the dream).

Is Juicing Good For You?

Last year saw a huge surge in the popularity of juicing. Suddenly it was everywhere – magazines, mentioned in celebrity interviews, and juice shops were showing up everywhere. It seemed like everyone was doing it. With trends like this, it is hard for me to buy into them completely and not be a skeptic. My default is to think that this is a marketing scheme created for us to fork over $12 for a bottle of juice that may or may not be good for you. Even with this questioning in my mind, all the talk about juicing has been so overwhelming that it’s hard not to want to give into it. But I needed to know more before trying it out. There’s lots of talk about how good juicing is for you and your diet but is it true? It’s juicing really as good as they say?

There is no doubt that eating fruits and vegetables, which is what is in most juices, is good for you. Depending on your age, sex, and activity level the CDC recommends that you eat a certain amount of both of these per day – for me the magic number is 2 cups/servings of fruit and 3 cups/servings of vegetables per day. Because most fruits and vegetables take more prep time than opening a bag of pretzels or chips, it can be difficult to get these into your diet. If you are someone who does not hit your recommended daily servings than this gives juicing at least one point in the “pro” column. It is possible to buy or make juices that contain your entire fruits & vegetables number for the day. Getting all those nutrients in one drink can be easier and quicker than trying to eat all those foods.

But what happens if you already eat fruits and vegetables regularly? This is where the benefits of juicing can be tricky, and this just happens to be the category I fall into. I love fruit, so eating two servings of it per day is very easy for me. I normally fall short of the vegetables by one, so I should work on getting that 3rd serving in there, but I’m not sure if beginning to juice is worth it just for that extra vegetable because it’d probably mean I’d be taking in more calories than I needed. If you are into counting calories, you’ll find that these juices could end up adding an extra 200-400 calories per juice to your diet. If you are trying to stay under a certain number per day, this could be a problem. The calories in juices are also more concentrated than eating the actual foods themselves – so looks truly can be deceiving here. Think about the time it’d take you to drink the juiced remains of a ½ a head of romaine lettuces vs. the time it’d take to actually eat the lettuce.

The concentrated-ness (let’s pretend this is a word…) of juices is not just a downside, though, it works to your benefit when it comes to nutrients. The juices are full of all the vitamins, nutrients, minerals, etc that naturally occur in the foods. And just as I mentioned before about juicing being an easier way to get your fruit & vegetable servings in, it’s also an easy way to get all these nutrients in quicker. What isn’t concentrated in these unfortunately is a lot of the nutrients that fill you up – namely protein and fiber. The pulp and skin (what is striped during the juicing process) of these fruits and vegetables contain many of the nutrients that make these foods not only good for you, but fill you up. The juice in the fruits is a lot of sugar. It’s natural sugar, so it is better that added sugar and artificial sugar, but it is still sugar. Not only does it not keep you as full as fiber does, but the calories from sugar do not have as many nutrients as the calories from fiber or proteins.

via: wien on flickr

Arguably the most interesting part of the juice trend is the ever-popular juice cleanse. They’re all the rage these days! Don’t eat for 2-7 days, depending on what program you’re following, and instead of all that food (because, who needs that right?) drink juices for your would-be-meals and your body will be all brand new. Sounds super exciting, right? Now, I have to admit, I am not a juice cleanses’ target demo. I love cooking, baking, and think about what I’m going to eat next before I even finish what I am eating currently. Unless something extremely strange happens, this is not going to change, so I have to apologize for my snark when it comes to talking about these cleanses. I do not see myself wanting or able to drink nothing but juices for even a day. Even so, before I looked into these cleanses, I thought my feelings of it being a complete marketing ploy were based more in my personal feelings and less in the facts. I mean – you hear about celebrities and us pedestrians doing juice cleanses all the time and loving the feeling of a reset body, so there has to be some science to back this up – right? Wrong. I was pretty surprised to find that there are no scientific studies to back up the fact that juice cleanses lead to any sort of body changes. Our bodies do a great job of cleansing and detoxing themselves, and there is nothing to prove that juice cleanses do anything more for your body than good ole water.

Juicing can be good for you when it is done in the right way, and you make sure to tailor it to yourself. If you look at juicing the same way that the number of servings of fruits & vegetables that you need changes for each person then the chances that juicing will work for you are high. Remember that each person and each body is different, with different needs, and tailoring your juicing in that way can yield high results.

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