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Is Juice Actually Healthy?

Some careful googling has revealed to us that lots of people are asking the powers that be on the World wide Web this question. You might not know the answer to this question, or maybe you do but you’re after more information. Well, we want to provide this for you in an evidence-based, non-biased way. Disclaimer, yes, we sell juice! But juice is just one part of what makes up our overall goal; optimum nutrition for everyone visiting CPRESS. For us that means only serving 100% Organic produce first and foremost and secondly cold pressing juices that are supercharged with nutrients and selling food that’s fresh, plant-based and packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

 

Sugar

Let’s get right down to it then. The big controversy at the moment is sugar because we all know that too much is bad for us and we get asked a lot, “what’s the difference between juice and Coke in terms of sugar?” Firstly let’s clear up what sugar actually is. Fruits contain sugar yes, but so do all carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins. Simple sugars, or monosaccharides, are things like glucose, fructose and lactose. They are short chair sugars that require less effort from the body to be broken down and so are released into the blood quicker. About to run a sprinting race? Choose quick release glucose. More complex sugars, called polysaccharides, have longer chain lengths as so take more time to raise your blood sugar levels. So brown rice, a polysaccharide,  is called a slow release carbohydrate because it is made up of lots of individual sugar molecules linked together in a long chain that require breaking down first into their component parts before the body can metabolise them - hence the release of glucose into your blood is slower. Marathon runners - slow release carbs are the ones for you. These types of longer sugars also make it as far as our large bowel, whereas the fructose and glucose in fruit aren’t fermented in the large bowel and are used very quickly by the body for fuel. 

 

Sugar is not bad. In fact, glucose is the sole fuel source that our brains run on, without it, it cannot function. If we eat fat as our sole energy source we may have energy but there may be no glucose. Our muscles need glucose as well, which is why you might find yourself needing to refuel after intense exercise with some rice or sweet potato. When dietary carbohydrate is taken in, whether it is sugar or starchy food, sugar begins to enter the blood from the intestines. The blood sugar must inevitably rise as a consequence and that happens every time one eats a meal that contains carbohydrate. This does not lead to symptoms. It is a normal pattern. The rise in blood glucose leads to increased insulin secretion and decreased glucagon secretion and these hormones initiate the processes that are needed to bring the blood glucose back to normal again. The carbohydrate meal therefore starts a rise in the glucose level, which reaches a peak and falls off again as the control mechanisms come into action. At the height of the peak, if the meal was carbohydrate-rich, the blood glucose level is a long way above the resting level - shown by the graph below. Again it does not lead to any symptoms, since it is a normal physiological response. When you plot on a graph the blood sugar against time, you obtain a curve that is called “the glucose tolerance curve”.

Problems arise when this pattern is repeatedly stimulated and a state of ‘reactive hypoglycaemia’ is established in which we need larger and larger doses of sugar to pull us out of the trough of the glucose tolerance curve. This is shown by the graph above. If we take on a huge hit of free sugars, such as we would get from a fizzy drink or a processed, high sugar snack like a Mars bar, our blood glucose soars to a level that is higher than the norm and then the immediate effect of lots of insulin brings it crashing down way below the resting level and we experience that inevitable “crash” which has us reaching for the next sweet fix to perk us back up again. This is what so often happens in Western society, people always needing to look for the next quick fix to boost their energy levels. This frequent demand on the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas can eventually lead to a weakening of their ability to produce insulin which spells out problems for the future, namely adrenal fatigue and in severe cases, diabetes an liver complications.

The next most important thing to consider with sugar is the concept of micronutrient cost of breakdown. In order for the body to adequately metabolise sugar it has to invest vitamins, minerals and enzymes into the breakdown process. If the body then doesn’t gain these back from diet then there is obviously a loss of crucial nutrients. This is the difference between juice and Coke. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain all the enzymes, vits and mins that the body needs to use them effectively, so there is no net loss of nutrients. Coke, or any sugary processed food will make large demands on your body’s supply of micronutrients without giving anything back leaving you depleted of these vital co-factors. 

Fruit sugar is also not just one type of sugar. You may notice on the back of your favourite can of fizzy drink that the sweetener is just glucose syrup, or high fructose corn syrup. This means that it takes less time for the body to break it down and release the sugar into your blood stream as it isn't many different sugars linked together in a long chain. This spikes your blood glucose level requiring high doses of insulin to regulate it, which results in the situation described above. Fruit sugar, being made up of different types of sugar, is a more complex task. 

 

Micronutrients

Let’s not forget that fruit and vegetables are nature’s healers. The quality of their vitamin, mineral and enzyme status is second to none and especially important for us these days as we all require so many more antioxidants to combat the stresses and pollutants of every day life. We’ve all heard of Vitamin C but most of us think of it in relation to winter colds and flu but it’s actually one of the most widely used antioxidants in our bodies, helping to combat oxidative damage to our cells, ageing and free-radical damage. Vitamin C is just one example of many such nutrients that carry out really vital functions in our cells.

Certain veggies and fruits also have the ability to help our digestion. The celery juice in our Green Angel, Farmers Market and Green Harvest naturally increases the body’s production of stomach acid, aiding the digestion of proteins. Ginger and Turmeric juices are both amazingly supportive to the digestive system and immune system and have the added benefit of being anti-inflammatory. Apple juice can help increase metabolism and it also creates butyric acid in the digestive tract which is soothing and calming for the gut wall.

 

So to conclude, the situation is not just black and white, all sugar was not created equal and there are so many factors at play that can make something ‘healthy’ or ‘not healthy.’ Different people have different levels of glucose tolerance and so may be able to tolerate different amounts of sugar. There is no denying that juice, if organic, cold pressed and not from concentrate will contain many beneficial nutrients that your body can use to perform vital functions and help maintain overall health.

 

 

 


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