From the 1980s, when the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne hawked the Power Juicer on late-night TV to today, juicing has gone full circle.
Even at the recent 2013 Fresh Summit in New Orleans, several exhibitors showed off triple-rinsed, ready-to-use bagged greens that could be used for juicing.
LaLanne and his followers back then talked about the healthfulness of what essentially is liquefied produce. Some of the really hardcore would go on juice fasts, where their only calories came in the form of juice.
Today, proponents of the processing practice passionately embrace it with practically zen-like spirituality as a cure for what ails you, including cancer, depression, arthritis, HIV and multiple sclerosis.
Hollywood icons and sports stars talk glowingly about how juicing helped them lose weight, gain energy, enhance on-field performance and have sharper mental focus.
Psuedo- and self-proclaimed health gurus, including numerous bloggers, embrace juice cleansing diets as a way to remove toxins, such as heavy metals, that build up in your body over time.
Juice companies are sprouting up around the country. Some peddle fresh, unpasteurized products that have very short shelf life.
Others use high-pressure pasteurization, which can significantly extend the shelf life but also garners criticism from purists. It’s much like the debate over pasteurized milk versus raw milk straight from a cow’s udder.
One PMA exhibitor showed me his pre-washed bags of kale and described how he finally gave into his wife, who was a juicing proponent. She had made this green concoction for him that included kale and other leafy greens, as well as bananas and berries for a little natural sugar and flavor.
He begrudgingly gagged down the brew, saying the fruit did little to camouflage the tannic flavor and rough texture of the kale.
And yes, it did clean him out. But he said it was an experience he didn’t care to repeat.
When you talk to health experts, they say that fruit and vegetable juices can be part of a well-balanced diet. But you shouldn’t rely solely on them for all of your calories, like some of these juice diets recommend.
Unless you add back the pulp left over after juicing, the end product lacks much of the fiber that the original fruit or vegetable had.
Juice, by its nature, is low in protein and fiber and high in carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in blood sugar, resulting in headaches and loss of muscle mass, to name a few of the down sides, according to nutritionists.
Unless you add something like avocado, you’re also missing out on fat-soluble vitamins in a juice diet.
Chewing, like you’d experience in crunching on a carrot or biting into an apple, also offers satiety that the brain frequently craves. Juice, as a liquid, just doesn’t satisfy that craving for solid food.
And while some of the most restrictive juice diets will cause followers to lose weight, they do so because of reduced caloric intake.
Most nutritional experts will tell you that a diet that is too restrictive on caloric intake and overall food choices is difficult to stick with for any length of time.
It all goes back to what I like to call the “Mom’s Handbook” of sayings — everything in moderation — and that includes juice.
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