5 Juicing facts even some doctors don't know

Friday, June 23, 2017 Stef dela Cruz, MD 2 Comments

I know many of you are fans of juicing, but lately, it’s been criticized a lot. So, should we say deuces to juices?

In case you didn’t know, deuces is slang for goodbye. (Well, it’s also slang for crap, but that’s just an unfortunate coincidence.) Speaking of deuces, let’s talk about what we do with fruits when we don’t want to eat them: we juice them for everything they’ve got.

I, for one, am a sucker for fruit shakes. No, not the ones with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in them - I’m happy with just plain old fruits blended with ice, maybe with half a carrot in there somewhere.

And don’t even get me started with fruit juice.

Juicing, however, is a controversial health choice. It’s popular, but there has been a lot of criticism about juicing being a healthy habit.

juicingHow do you do juicing the right way?

You might have friends who swear by juicing and its benefits. Some even take juicing to the extreme, consuming only fruit juice for days at a time – they even say they feel great afterwards. Are these proponents of juicing right about their claims, or is juicing bad for health?


The good, the bad, and the juicing

If you want a yes or no answer, too bad. That’s not what you’re going to find here. And before you get confused by the whole “juicing is bad, juicing is good” argument, let’s review the evidence.

1. Juice is not superior to whole fruit.

But why is apple juice not equal to an apple?

Well, look at everything that gets left in your juicer. There’s the skin, not to mention the fiber-rich flesh - and you already know that these help explain why produce is healthy for you to begin with.

2. You tend to consume more juice than fruit.

Fruits and vegetables are amazing: You can’t really wolf down veggies and fruits in the same way you would a bag of Doritos, thanks to the fiber in the former that makes you feel full.

However, there may be less fiber in a glass of juice than in a fruit, which means you may consume more calories if you’re juicing fruits instead of eating them.

Ask yourself: How many glasses of orange juice could you finish, and how many oranges did you have to squeeze to make that much juice? Would you have finished all those oranges if you had to eat them instead of juice them?

3. Some juices are linked to better health.

Let’s not demonize juicing, however. There is research supporting the role of carrot juice in preventing oxidative stress in breast cancer and kale juice in preventing hypercholesterolemia, for instance.

But note how these are small-scale studies. The investigators also measured blood levels of different markers instead of measuring the actual impact on health. It’s all very promising, but we need more evidence to stay optimistic.

4. Juicing is great for people who abhor fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t like vegetables for some reason, juicing is a great way to cheat. You won’t get the same benefits (there won’t be a lot of insoluble fibers, for instance), but at least you’re getting more antioxidants and soluble fibers.

5. Juicing affects the nutrients you get.

Did you know that plants cells have walls but animal cells don’t? (Animal cells only have membranes.)

Juicing mechanically cracks open the walls of plant cells, making the antioxidants inside those cells available for better absorption. The mechanical disruption of cell walls increases the bioavailability of carotenoids.

In effect, you may get more carotene from pureeing or juicing a carrot than from eating it.


Do we really want to get our juices flowing?

There’s no cookie-cutter answer.

We need more proof to support the many health claims of juicing before we can finally give a verdict, especially when it comes to “detox” (juice-only) diets.

There are also some fruits that we can’t eat as they are, such as the calamansi. Filipinos love making calamansi juice, however, so how we can make the most out of juicing them may be worth looking into.

As we wait with bated breath for more evidence, let’s watch this video of my brother Adrian – a chef with a background in engineering – as he uses a powerful juicer from Breville called the Juice Fountain Max, which he’s really proud to endorse. He said it was amazing: he just threw in a handful of whole calamansi fruits, complete with skin and seeds, et voila! He got a lot more juice at a shorter span of time – plus the juice tasted better. (You can check out Breville on Facebook if you want to know more.)

My brother kept raving about the wide chute and the patented blades that squeezed out 70 percent of the calamansi that he put in the juicer, and I believed him. Then again, as his one and only sister (and the first person to always taste whatever he’s juicing with the Juice Fountain Max), I’m biased, haha.


More calamansi, fewer calories: my favorite recipe

My brother loves honey in everything – I don’t blame him! But if you want to lose weight like I do, try substituting honey with Stevia. It’s a calorie-free sweetener named after the plant it was derived from: Stevia rebaudiana.

There are stevia plants for sale in Quezon Memorial Circle. However, we still don’t know if it’s completely safe to use the actual plant instead of the commercially-available sweetener derived from the plant, so it’s best to stick to the commercially-available powder.

Stevia can have a few side effects for some people, so make sure to use it sparingly at first. It can affect how your body gets rid of lithium, in case you’re taking it for a mood disorder. Stevia also tends to lower blood pressure, so please check with your doctor if you’re currently medicating for a diagnosed condition, or if you experience any adverse effects while using it.

I also love grating some carrots into my glass of calamansi juice. The carrots add a certain sweetness that complements the tanginess of calamansi. Add some mint leaves and you’re all set!


Is juicing right for you?

Before I forget: Please don’t go on any extreme diet changes without telling your doctor! A one-on-one talk with your physician can help answer all your questions about your health.

Meanwhile, I do have three questions that might help you decide if juicing is for you (and if you’re doing it right). You might also want to answer these before you head to your doctor, who can teach you face-to-face about the pros and cons of juicing.

  1. 1. Why do you want to juice?
  2. 2. How often do you do it?
  3. 3. What types of fruits and vegetables are you juicing?

I, for one, can benefit from more produce in my diet because I can’t boast of the same vegetable-rich diet that I used to enjoy in the province (read: I can’t cook). Here in the city, I end up stocking up on fruits and vegetables which I usually make into a glass of puree or juice.

I know, I know, it’s a cop-out. It’s definitely not the best recommendation. But for stubborn people like me, it’s better than nothing.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. Under normal health conditions (well, not sick) and produce coming from healthy soil, it is still the best to eat fruits and vegetables as they are. In the past 2 decades or so, however, you cannot get enough nutrients anymore from them due to the degradation of soil nutrition, plus the proliferation of GMO produce. So, juicing can extract more of the nutrients left.

    However, juicing fruits also hastens the sugar (fructose) into the bloodstream. Eating the fruits is just perfect for the right amount of sugar. Juicing is harmful in that regard.

    With vegetables, and for the sick who can no longer process the fiber, juicing is perfect.

    Those are what I have gathered in my research.

    c5 (ceefive.com)

    1. I agree with almost everything you say here (except perhaps the GMO part, which is a very nuanced topic).

      Sadly, these are juicing facts that not a lot of people know.

      I think it's really important to personalize health care, whether it be about diet or exercise or medication. It would be wonderful if everybody dug up evidence online (if they have access to the internet), then sought medical advice from their doctors so that they can make an informed decision. Patient empowerment, so to speak.