What about Fiber?
There are many well-known health benefits associated with eating an array of fruits and vegetables, but probably the most understated benefits come from their fiber content. When we are thinking about supporting our bodies' detox systems, fiber is key. Fiber helps maintain normal bowel structure and function and also stimulates colonic blood flow to help flush any unneeded products from the body.
Fiber also feeds healthy bacteria in the gut that can inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and also increase mineral absorption. Furthermore, dietary fiber that is fermented in the colon results in the production of short chain fatty acids (in particular, butyrate), which has been purported to have numerous benefits for colon health.
Some research suggests the fiber contained in fruits and vegetables is attached to some of the important phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals that naturally occur in plants to help protect plants from outside threats like bugs, germs and fungi. In the same way, these phytonutrients protect the host from threats; consuming phytonutrients from plant foods may also help protect the human body from disease. The majority of juicers and commercially prepared juices remove the fiber from fruits and vegetables, resulting in a juice that is lower in phytonutrients.
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Does Juicing Have Benefits?
You may be wondering at this point if there is anything good about juicing. Most health experts would probably say that for most healthy individuals, there's nothing wrong with going on a juice "cleanse" for a day or two. For some it is a good way to kick-start a healthy eating plan by shifting away from some of the bad habits they may have formed over the years.
Research shows individuals who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables show a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Consuming a fruit and vegetable juice is an easy way of getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet if that is an area you are lacking. Just be aware that much of the research involves whole fruits and vegetables and consuming a large amount of fruit juices may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes because of the high sugar content. If you use a blender instead of a juicer, you have the added benefit of retaining some of the fiber that is lost in juicing and still getting a lot of the healthy nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables.
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The bottom line is to approach juicing with a sensible mind. Much like other nutrition fads, anything that promises to solve all of your health problems in a matter of days is just hype. Good health is best supported by a dietary pattern focused around consuming a variety of foods from all food groups. If you find your diet has you feeling sluggish and low on energy, try eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
If you are looking for a healthy post-workout snack and don't have the appetite for whole fruits and vegetables, go ahead and blend up your own smoothie at home using your favorite fruits and vegetables, some Greek yogurt for protein and enough water or ice to reach your preferred consistency. There's no need to turn to commercial juice blends when all you need is already in your refrigerator.
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