April 3, 2013 by Ann @ The Coconut Frontier
Let’s take a look!
To be honest, I had no idea what the difference was between a juicer and an extractor. In fact, it seems like the two terms are often used interchangeably. Consumer Reports defines a citrus juicer as a “motorized reamer,” and a juice extractor as “an appliance with a spinning disk that cuts fruits and vegetables into smaller pieces to be spun, separating the juice from the pulp.”
Juicers, Extractors, Blenders: The Distinction:
Juicers: Allows one to control of the amount of pulp going into the fruit or vegetable juice.
Juice Extractors: Separates the pulp away from the actual fruit or vegetable juice.
Blenders (e.g. the revered VitaMix): Yields a smoothie type concoction that contains both the pulp and the juice (so basically, the entire food).
Is Juicing the Way to Go?
I always caution people when it comes to juicing, especially when high sugar fruits or vegetables (like beets or carrots) are involved. People often feel fantastically energized after juicing, but don’t realize that this often equated to the massive blood sugar surge caused by the juice (or perhaps more simply, the result of going off a highly processed, nutrient poor diet and onto an intense “cleanse”).
While juicing isn’t necessarily bad, there are so many people who have energy highs and lows throughout the day (i.e. unbalanced and struggling blood sugar levels) or other adrenal issues, such as adrenal fatigue, that should reconsider juicing. The juice is highly absorbable, so the sugar goes straight into the blood stream. This is because there’s essentially nothing for your body to break down or digest.
Another issue with solely extracting the juice is that you’re tossing out much of the nutrient dense, good stuff, like the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and even some of the phytonutrients and antioxidants; being left with what is essentially just a glass of sugar. To avoid this, you may want to consider using a blender to make a smoothie creation instead.
Slowing the Sugar Absorption
I understand that juices can be really refreshing, especially during the warmer months. So, if you’re really craving a juice, an occasional indulgence is fine! However, I recommend slowing down the absorption of the juice. These tips will help you avoid the blood sugar rush and insulin spike:
- Add fat or protein to your juice, like a tablespoon of coconut oil, some full fat coconut milk, an avocado, properly prepared nuts (i.e. soaked), or pasture raised, high quality egg yolks. Doing this will slow the absorption of nutrients, and create a steadier rise in your blood sugar levels. Plus, the fat allows you to absorb all of the veggies’ fat-soluble vitamins and maximizes the availability of the minerals (besides the fact that the fat’s delicious!).
- Avoid juices with a high fruit to vegetable ratio. Try to stick to one serving of berries in your juice, for instance, and make the rest low sugar vegetables, like cucumber or celery.
- Add extra oomph using items such as ginger, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract.
- Use a blender and make it a smoothie. You’ll get all the good stuff, avoid a blood sugar spike, and probably won’t glug it down as fast in a smoothie form either!
Why Everyday Juicing May Be Inappropriate: Oxalates
Vegetables are high in oxalates. In large amounts, oxalates are toxic. Of course, in normal size portions, we don’t need to worry about this. But a daily habit of one (or multiple) green juices consisting of fistfuls of spinach or kale in volumes we would otherwise never consume, can be problematic. Calcium oxalate (formed when soluble oxalate encounters naturally occurring calcium ions in the body) can cause considerable harm in your tissues and organs, notably the kidneys. Calcium oxalate is the most common component of kidney stones. So, if you are susceptible to kidney stones, you likely want to avoid juicing in mass quantities.
Another thing to consider is that difficulty with oxalate metabolism has been noted in children with autism. A lot of (albeit, anecdotal) evidence has emerged noting that a low-oxalate diet may be beneficial to children on the spectrum. (Further reading for those interested: “Why may someone with autism need a low oxalate diet”)
Why Everyday Juicing May Be Inappropriate: Goitrogens
Goitrogenic foods interfere with and can suppress thyroid function. Soybeans and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) are the two main categories of goitrogenic foods. Cooking seems to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds in these foods, but as you know, juices are made from raw veggies. So, if you have thyroid issues, I don’t recommend juices containing the popular ingredient: raw kale (or any other raw cruciferous vegetable). In fact, I wouldn’t recommend these foods in their raw form at all – juiced or not juiced – if you have thyroid issues.
I’m all about eating foods in their whole form. I’m a believer in nutrient synergy (think why isolating a vitamin in a pill form versus eating a food containing that vitamin plus all its other co-factors is more impactful). Nutrient synergy is something we’re just beginning to understand. An apple in it’s whole form is perfect. It’s what nature intended.
That being said, if you feel like a juice, by all means have one! Just realize you’re making yourself invincible by doing so.