We recently had the opportunity to interview Ashley Koff, RD about juicing. She is a big fan of and expert on juicing and we wanted to share her thoughts with our readers.
What is juicing?
While juice (the liquid portion of fruits and vegetables) has been around for forever, “juicing” is a more modern occurrence. That said, because today’s “juicing” includes not only fruits and vegetables but seeds and nuts and more, I prefer to call it “liquid nutrition”.
I think this is important and helpful because it reminds us to look for the same nutritional value from liquid nutrition that we do from solid nutrition (to review, my four pillars for optimal health are: quantity, quality, nutrient balance, and frequency — more on that on my FREE nutrition plan download at ashleykoffrd.com/nutritionplan)
Describe the nutritional benefits of juicing for anyone and, in particular, for cancer patients.
There are two primary benefits — both of which only have merit if the quality of what is being juiced (or liquified) is what I consider “better” (in this instance organic to achieve optimal amounts of the good stuff with minimal exposure to anything harmful) — they are:
- Liquid allows for easier digestion – which is both about consuming nutrients as well as breaking them down and absorbing them into the system. Fighting cancer and recovering from treatment is a lot for the body to do. When you consume liquid nutrition, there is less immediate work the body has to do because the food is already blended. There is a greater likelihood that it will absorb what it’s presented and not detract from other tasks to do so.
- Liquid allows for the body to get higher concentrations of key cancer-fighting nutrients than one might be able to get from solid (for the reason listed as #1 if you are a cancer patient / survivor). Although an organic kale salad is great for you — the roughage may make consuming higher amounts challenging. A half-cup could be the maximum intake in solid form, whereas you could double or triple that amount in a juice.
Are there different ways of juicing and different types of juices and, if so, what are the benefits/disadvantages of them (ie, cold press that we hear a lot about)?
There are a lot of different ways to make juice and I look for the way that retains the nutrients best. Also, the way that you will actually make / consume the juice is important. If buying it locally works better than investing in a juicer, just make sure what you purchase from someone else is better quality ingredients and safely made. I don’t get into the concern about some blenders or juicers heating the juice (isn’t that what soup is?) but I don’t like high heat pasteurization for most fruits and vegetables. I am happy with either purees (blender style juicing) as well as juices that remove the pulp (as long as you get fiber into your diet in some other whole food better quality way throughout the day).
How would you recommend someone start to juice?
I think the juice that has the most merit for the most folks is an organic greens juice with lemon or lime and spices like ginger — I would start there.
How frequently should someone juice?
Juicing can safely be part of a well-balanced diet. It is important to not let juicing unbalance your diet and become the only way that you consume your plant-based foods. Juicing has not been proven to prevent or cure cancer, but it can be a fun way to consume plant-based foods in unique combinations.
For cancer patients, what are the benefits of juicing and when is it appropriate/not appropriate?
Individuals who have been told by their healthcare team to limit fruit and/or vegetables should not juice. Everyone should follow the food safety guidelines recommended by the FDA.
What about someone who needs fiber? Doesn’t juice remove beneficial fiber and make sugary drinks?
When blending your plant-based foods into a puree, you will still get the fiber benefits. If you are removing the pulp and only consuming the juice, it is important to consume the daily recommendation for fiber from foods at other mealtimes. The daily fiber recommendation for women is at least 25 grams and 35gm for men (unless instructed otherwise by your healthcare provider).
Is it important that one use only organic ingredients?
The more conventionally grown fruits and vegetables you juice the greater the exposure to pesticide residues. If you chose to use conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, it is important to wash them well. It is important to know that it is not know whether choosing organic foods help reduce cancer risk more than conventionally grown foods. Cancer treatments can create a financial burden and we would not want someone to eat less fruits and vegetables because they cannot afford to purchase organic options. Recent studies have indicated that the benefit of eating a daily variety of plant-based foods outweighs any risk of pesticide residue. Food labeled “organic” does not mean that it is more “nutritious” or “lower in calories” that other foods. You can get information about choosing produce, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website.
I’ve heard that by “juicing” you detract from many of the health benefits. They suggest what you are left with is primarily the sugar content. Please advise.