Doctor, Isn’t it about the Juice and Nothing but the Juice?

Juicing Smoothies

Recently there has been an energetic media buzz relating to juicing. It centres on using fruits and vegetables to create juices, shakes or smoothies for easy consumption. Therefore getting your required daily vitamins and minerals in a quick, easy and enjoyable manner. This health trend has taken off in a big way with companies like Nutribullet® achieving huge sales in the last few years alone.

The question I have been asked many times is “what do I think about this trend?”

Honestly, I have never had a mind-set or opinion on juicing until patients starting talking about it. Many swear by the health benefits however I have been somewhat sceptical. My take was if you have a balanced diet then you should get all your nutrients as standard. I try to follow this approach myself but admittedly I do at times struggle to get salads and fruits into all my meals as recommended.

In light of this, I decided to conduct a personal juicing experiment. From my research, I chose Kale, Watercress, Baby spinach, and Rocket. All of which have a variety of benefits, which I was keen to obtain. On trying this alone in a smoothie form – the taste was, well, unbearable! I quickly revised it by using natural sugars from grapes, pineapples and strawberries. This helped a great deal regarding taste and compliance. On further research, I decided to add chia seeds in a bid to boost whatever I could and maximise any nutritional benefits.

One I had mastered my recipe, I gave myself three months to see if I noticed any differences and based my assessment on skin appearance, energy levels, digestion and biochemical analysis. I made sure I had a shake first thing in the morning on a daily basis but still kept to eating fruit and vegetables as normal in my diet.

Appearance

I definitely felt and saw an improvement in my skin appearance. I am not a vain person however it does feel good when your skin appears smoother. People even commented on this to my surprise and I did not even feel I had bad skin to begin with.

Energy levels

This was difficult to assess as I feel there are so many other factors that influence energy. Confidently I can say good successive nights of sleep is the most important factor. However I will add in the first 1-3 weeks of juicing, I did feel my energy levels were increased. Coupled with this I also felt I was mentally sharper but again that may have been due to better sleep.

Digestion

I did not have an issue with digestion but I noticed I urinated more in the morning and my bowel movements were slightly more loose. However this was variable and I cannot quantify any major change but have assumed further benefit in that area.

Biochemical analysis

I organised blood tests specifically looked only at Vitamins; Folic acid, B12 and Folic acid and Minerals; Ferritin (Iron), Calcium and Phosphate. My results showed I was not lacking in any and all were within the normal range. It would have been more valuable to have a before and after juicing for vitamin comparison however I was keen to just be aware.

From a medical standpoint, I have felt more advantages than disadvantages from juicing. I did have to change my preparation and use frozen fruit and veg to prevent undue wasting. Whether that would have any major change is difficult to judge. However, it is a shame that on trying to get organic versions of fruit and vegetables, this was more difficult and more expensive especially when you’re only trying to be healthy. This should not be the case but that argument is beyond the scope of this blog. In the meantime, I will continue juicing every morning and have suggested it to others.

Sugar Intake

It appears that juicing does have a role in helping with a well-maintained balanced diet. It is important to select the right fruits and vegetables when juicing and not use fruits alone especially if you intend to consume foods with high sugar content or refined sugar content throughout the day. So juicing is a good alternative to ready-made juices, soft drinks and foods that have high sugar content.  With this in mind, fruits are an essential part of your recommended five a day, and although fruits contain natural sugars it is still very important to control the amount of sugar you consume. The U.K recommended daily sugar intake should not exceed 30g per day.

Various Juicing mixes.

You can be very creative when juicing and add a multitude of fruits, vegetables, seeds;  nuts etc. Which as previously stated makes it a lot easier to ensure you have your 5 a day food groups. It is good to add at least 1 or 2 fruits to your daily juicing and as much veg as you can stand the taste off. Below are some examples of healthy juicing ingredients you can add to the juice of your choice.

FruitVegetable Seed/NutsAlternative
Oranges/ Apples/ Pears/
Mangos/ Pineapples
Kale/Spinach/ Beet Greens/
Swish Chard/ Lettuce/ Rocket
Walnuts
Peanuts
Ginger/ Wheatgrass
Melons, GrapesBeetroot FlaxseedsCayenne Pepper
Kiwi/Strawberries/ Blueberries Papaya LeafsChai SeedsSpirulina/ Seaweed
Bananas Cucumber / Celery/ Carrots Almonds Maca Root Powder

Obviously it would have been better to conduct my experiment on a larger scale with more people and therefore it is difficult to base real conclusions from it. However in these 3 months, juicing has worked for me and I will do my best to continue. In the meantime, WAFFL still maintain keeping a balanced diet as essential for fitness and achieving your general wellbeing goals. Personally, from this and research I feel I have more knowledge to answer and suggest juicing to patients if questioned. Search on the WAFFL app for smoothie recipes for more ideas.

Dr Anthony Egboh

by Dr Anthony Egboh, WAFFL Doctor

Dr Anthony Egboh (MBBS, BSc, AICSM, MRCGP) is a London-born General Practitioner (GP) with interests in Health and Well-being for families.

At WAFFL he brings his medical insight and expertise to the team. He is a firm believer in striving for better health – ensuring that fitness is a lifestyle choice, not just a part-time habit.