A short time ago one of my daughters had to undergo extensive jaw surgery. This child of mine loves to cook, as I do, and loves to eat, as I do. When I accompanied her to the surgeon for her pre-op visit, we were handed a book entitled Dinner through a Straw. We looked at each other and realized what this meant: for six weeks following surgery she would be drinking all of her meals! I can now personally describe what a blended PB&J with milk is like, and trust me; it's nothing like my childhood memories.While my daughter had no choice but to drink 100% of her meals, many people are choosing to join the growing movement of juicing. Should you join the crowd? Juicing allows us to add a larger variety of vegetables and fruits to the diet, and makes it easy to try new foods. Good nutrition dictates that we try as many colors, shapes and textures as possible, in order to consume a full range of nutrients. I know many people, including children, who simply will not eat what most experts consider a sufficient amount and variety of fruits and vegetables. Juicing has opened up a new world to them. There is a limitless combination of recipes, and they are easy to find in cookbooks and online. Does juicing actually help us to absorb nutrients from foods? This common claim is based on the assumption that our digestive system limits our body's ability to absorb. Juicing presumably helps to "pre-digest" them for you. This contention simply doesn't hold up. The Mayo Clinic has stated there is no scientifically based advantage of juicing over simply consuming a fruit or vegetable in its original form. In fact, note that juicing extracts the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, and that the resulting liquid contains MOST of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole food. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have valuable fiber, much of which can be lost by juicing. Although I am a fan of juicing, here are a few things to watch out for! *Juices are not a complete meal. Fruits and vegetables have very little protein and virtually no fat. They do, however have complex carbohydrates, which are an important part of a balanced diet. *Juicing can suddenly add large quantities of fruits and vegetables to a diet that is not accustomed to them. Listen to your body. If your stomach feels uncomfortable, or if you develop cramping, diarrhea or nausea, then change what you are drinking, reduce the quantities consumed, or go talk to your doctor. *Diabetic and pre-diabetic patients must keep an eye on the sugar content of fruits. Lemons and limes contain little fructose, so they can be good candidates for a low-sugar drink. They also help neutralize the bitter taste of those healthy dark green leafy vegetables that provide much of the benefit of juicing. *Remember to make only the quantity you will drink in a short time, because fresh juice can quickly develop colonies of harmful bacteria. If you buy a commercially produced fresh juice, choose a pasteurized product. Surf the Internet for recipes, and have fun. Remember to make sure that your drinks taste good, to use a variety of fruits and vegetables to get the broadest assortment of nutrients, and to add back some of the pulp for fiber. Have a green thumb? Add the leftover pulp to your garden. Just as your body does, your plants will love the nutrients! Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.
********** Published: May 10, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 04