With the amount of health and fitness crazes sweeping across the globe right now, the juicing phenomenon is proving one of the most popular. Juice-toxes, three-day juice cleanses and the abundance of juice and smoothie bars cropping up around Dublin show that people have really latched on to this new health fad, probably because it requires minimum effort. Just cram a load of fruit and veg into a juicer, press the button and voila – health in a cup right? But there are heaps of pros and cons to any health craze and it’s important to inform yourself before taking on any big changes to your diet.
So why should you try juicing? Well if you’re the type of person (as students generally are) who doesn't get a lot of fruit and vegetables in their day-to-day diet, juicing is a good way to incorporate them in easily. It reduces down the bulk of the food to a minimum, meaning you can often take a whole bag of spinach, a carrot and an apple and have it all in a glass for breakfast. You can also have a lot more variety in your foods than you would normally. Nutritionists recommend varying your fruit and vegetables as much as possible to get as many different vitamins and minerals; aiming to eat as many colours as you can is a good way to do so. With juicing, you can put veggies and fruits that you wouldn't normally eat all in together and get the nutrients you would have been avoiding.
But that doesn't mean that juicing is the best way to get all the nutrients you need. Reducing the fruit and veg down to liquid means losing out on the pulp, which contains the fiber. It’s recommended that along with whatever juice you may have, you should still eat two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day so as not to lose out on everything that the food has to offer. You should also keep an eye on the amount of calories in each glass you make. Using vegetables to juice instead of just fruit can reduce the calories and be sure to avoid pure fruit juice from a carton as these can be very high in sugar.
So we all know that we need fruit and veg in our diets and so far juicing seems like a good way to get them. But what about those detoxes and cleanses I mentioned earlier? Three, five and seven day juice detoxes are all the rage nowadays for recuperating after a heavy weekend or, more popularly, for losing weight quickly. Documentaries like ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ (nice enough title), show this being taken to the extreme, with an all-juice diet for 60 days in order to lose a big amount of weight. But these fads aren't as healthy as they’re cracked up to be and are likely to backfire.
Being on an all-juice diet means you’re really aware of the things you’re missing eating and are more likely to break and binge. Restricting yourself in any type of diet isn't a good long-term solution. The boring truth is that a commitment to everything in moderation and exercise is the one way to lose weight and make sure it stays off. There hasn't been any evidence to show that juicing ‘detoxes’ are actually cleansing your body. Your kidneys and liver are taking care of that anyway – it’s much more likely that the fact you’re taking in healthy food is the reason. As for other health claims, such as juicing being linked to lower cancer and heart disease risks, there hasn't been enough research done to support these claims. Again, healthy food is at the heart of it all. Also, losing out on things like protein as a result of juicing means you’re at risk of losing muscle mass. The bottom line is that a long juice cleanse is too extreme and the results aren't likely to last.
And they aren't exactly cheap either. If you’re looking to order your juice ready-made for your cleanse, websites like PureGreen and JuiceDelivery offer three, five and seven day detox packs – the cheapest of which will set you back €75. As for making your own, a good juicer can set you back anything from €100 to €500.
Not exactly viable options for us poor students but if you are looking to get in on the juicing craze, places like Póg, Dr. Juice and the almighty Zumo all provide fresh juice for reasonable enough prices. Just don’t make it your dinner for 60 days – just because it’s healthy food doesn't mean it’s enough to keep you going.