While we’re all trying to stay well and keep healthy at home, ESP’s Wellbeing columnist Karen Devine looks at the benefits of juicing and smoothies…
Are you a real smoothie… or just a juicer?
You might think I am stating the obvious when I say that there’s a huge difference between juicing and blending or smoothie making. However, it may come as a surprise that many people do get these confused and believe they’re the same thing. I often suggest a specific juice to help support a health issue but the word ‘juice’ can be misheard and people head off blending, only to find the smoothie really unpalatable as the bulk used for juicing is more than you’d add to a smoothie.
Most of us will find a blender lurking around in a dark corner of a cupboard somewhere, it’s a familiar electronic device we have probably all used in the kitchen over the years. On the other hand, juicers are not your average kitchen gadget and often people will assume they do the same thing – they don’t.
The most common blending today is what we now call a smoothie, so what is the difference and is one better than the other?
SMOOTHIES V JUICING
Smoothies – When we add fruits and vegetables to a blender the fibres remain; it literally just blends the produce up together so it can be called a whole food as nothing is taken away. In the blending process produce is masticated down as it would be if chewed so it can be easier to digest once it reaches the stomach/small intestine. Basically, what you put in the blender is what you will drink, nothing is strained out. With the fibre remaining you will feel fuller for longer. For those on a low fibre diet (i.e inflammatory bowel diseases) smoothies would be best avoided or for those that may also have small intestinal/digestive issues that the excess of fibre could irritate.
We all know fibre is needed for healthy bowel motility and for feeding and nourishing our friendly bacteria as well as absorbing toxins from the digestive system and eliminating them.
Adding smoothies to our daily routine can deliver a higher yield of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and of course fibre in one large glass. It’s a great way to start the morning and for some it’s the ideal way to enjoy 5-6 portions of various leafy greens/veggies and fruits.
Blending fruits and vegetable this way not only delivers key nutrients, it’s a great way to get some ‘raw’ produce into the diet. Raw foods from fruits and vegetables deliver enzymes that help digestion and give us more energy, an inner glow, clearer skin and more.
Juicing – this is a process whereby the fluid of the fruit or vegetable is ‘separated’ from the fibre/pulp, therefore juicing is not technically a whole food as there is a separation from a very important part which is the fibre. You can keep some of the pulp and add to a salad later. However, juicing is used for different reasons which include:
- Fasting purposes
- To take the load off the digestive system and allow it to rest
- For detoxification as the nutrients can enhance cleansing whilst bringing in a low level of calories
- To help those who need to have a low fibre diet maybe due to inflammatory bowel issues or inflammation in the small intestine where fibre could aggravate. Removing the fibre/pulp allows the nutrients to be delivered much quicker as well as delivering hydration
When we juice vegetables and some fruit we use lots more produce than we would blending, for instance you may use 3-4 carrots, ½ -1 cucumber, a few stalks of celery, a handful of greens, apple/pear/pomegranate etc. This would be too much to blend and drink, some people when they have confused the two have tried this in error and experienced bloating, frequent explosive bowels, gas and being generally uncomfortable! When we juice this does not happen, the digestive system has so little work to do and therefore our energy is directed to cleansing and healing instead.
Juicing can be used as fasting/cleansing over a few days or even just 1 day for a digestive respite or part of every day enjoying green juice (rotating those greens remember) in the morning then enjoying a diet rich with healthy fibres (veggies, salads, seeds), proteins, healthy fats etc through the rest of the day.
Juicing is highly hydrating due to the natural water content, however it can be more expensive than smoothies as you really do need to use more produce and where possible buy organic.
Both smoothies and juices will introduce natural live enzymes from the raw produce as well as the minerals/vitamin and phytonutrients so both do have a place. I personally use both unless I am focusing on a period of fasting and therefore I will make several juices during that day and no other solid foods.
Some people have both in a day, a green juice in the morning and a smoothie later morning before starting more solid food from lunch onwards.
Whether you’re a smoothie or a juicer, both can help us take a concentrated source of nutrients in one glass that can support our immune system which is so important right now. Colourful fruits and vegetables provide Vitamin C, Antioxidants, Vitamin E and more that can help support us by boosting our immune fighting cells, may shorten the length of the common cold, etc. Fruit and veg are rich in beta carotene which converts to Vitamin A needed for healthy mucous membranes, healthy skin, eyes and much more this is found in abundance in carrots, spinach, red/yellow peppers, cantaloupe melon and more.
So, there are marked differences, and both have their place. This is such a good time to dust off the juicer/blender and enjoy the benefits they can both bring.
(CNHC Registered Nutritional Therapist Mbant, Colonic Hydrotherapist, Naturopath)