Juicing is a process by which juice is extracted from fresh fruits and vegetables, with most of the fibre-rich pulp and skin of the fruit or vegetable being discarded in the process. While juicing is gaining in popularity worldwide, plenty of myths are abound about the benefits and health concerns of drinking fresh juice. Ms Alyssa Chan, Dietitian, SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), a member of the SingHealth group, debunks these myths and presents the facts.

Myth: A juice cleanse helps in weight loss.

Fact: Weight loss occurs if you consume fewer calories than you burn. Hence, if you consume 1200-1400 calories of juice each day as part of a juice cleanse, and your recommended calorie intake is 1700 calories, you are likely to lose weight because of the calorie deficit. But a juice cleanse is akin to a crash diet and any weight loss it causes will be in the short term only. Once you resume your normal diet, you will probably put on any kilos you have lost.

Additionally, a juice diet will be nutritionally unbalanced, since you will not be getting the recommended quantities of fibre, protein and other nutrients. This is likely to cause a loss of muscle mass and food cravings, as well as other health problems such as high blood sugar. Hence, it’s best to consume the recommended one serving of juice as part of a balanced diet, and cut down your overall calorie intake to lose weight healthily.

Myth: A juice cleanse can help detox your body.

Fact: There isn’t any scientific evidence to support this claim. Your body organs such as the liver and kidneys are responsible for detoxifying and cleansing your body. These organs help remove toxins from the body in a natural process. During a juice cleanse, a person is likely to burn their glycogen stores for energy, which can cause the body to lose water. A cleanse can also lead to side effects such as a lack of energy, headaches, irritability, low blood sugar and constipation.

Myth: It is easier for the body to absorb nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetable juice than from fibre-rich whole fruits and vegetables.

Fact: There isn’t any scientific evidence to support this claim. Your digestive system is designed to extract nutrients from different foods, even those which are rich in fibre. In fact, fibre has an important function in the digestive and excretory systems, and is essential for digestive and gut health.

Myth: A fruit and vegetable smoothie is as healthy as eating whole fruits and vegetables since the pulp and fibre is retained.

Fact: The process of breaking down a fibre-rich whole fruit or vegetable in the digestive and intestinal tract is beneficial for health. Hence eating whole fruits and vegetables is a healthier option than drinking fresh juice or a smoothie.

Myth: Avoid spinach and kale in fresh juice since they can interfere with blood-thinning medication.

Fact: Excess consumption of spinach and kale may affect anti-blood clotting medication. In moderate quantities, however, these vegetables are safe to consume for patients on blood-clotting medication.

7 tips for healthy juicing at home

  1. It’s important to wash any fruits and vegetables you use very carefully to remove all dirt and pesticides.
  2. Always use clean appliances and juicer for juicing, and wash them thoroughly immediately after use.
  3. Combine your least favourite vegetable with your favourite fruit for a healthy juice blend.
  4. Use a variety of fruits and vegetables for juicing. Avoid having the same juice every day.
  5. Add some of the pulp back into the juice, or save it and add it to a soup or rice dish.
  6. Make your juice healthier by adding ground flaxseeds or ground ginger.
  7. Only juice what you want to consume immediately. Juice loses its nutritional value and can develop bacteria if it is left standing.

Read the previous page to find out the pros and cons of juicing for children, pregnant women and the elderly​​.

Ref: Q15