Chew or Juice, It’s About How You Consume

I thought juicing my fruits and veggies was the healthiest thing ever!

If you’re at your ideal weight, or even need to gain some weight, smoothies and juices can be a great solution for a healthy, on-the-go snack. But if you’re watching your weight, have any stress related conditions, or have particularly weak digestion, you might be better off reaching for a whole piece of fruit than going the blended route.

Although you may be getting plenty of nutrition on paper when you slurp your food, the common lack of digestive enzymes can inhibit the bioavailability of those nutrients, and the actual uptake of the nutrients may not be registering to your body at all.

The problem with food being drunk in on-the-go situations, is that it creates a far from ideal digestive pattern within the body. When you sit down to eat, your nervous system is given the chance to calm down, which is very important for your digestion. In fact, digestion is one of the first functions that your body will shut down when you’re stressed. Even if you don’t think you’re stressed, your body may feel differently since it’s not sending the “cool-down” signals to your digestive system. It tends to be the day-to-day stressors – such as being on the phone or laptop – while you’re eating, that can have a number of effects on the strength of your overall digestion.

1. Convenience only goes so far

When you put food in your mouth, it triggers one of the very first stages of digestion, which happens with the secretion of digestive enzymes in your saliva. The more you chew, the more these enzymes are secreted. Their role is to help you break down the food before it even gets to your stomach. But if you’re drinking your food, as with a smoothie, your body is not given the opportunity to create these enzymes. This is why some experts and nutritionists recommend the act of “chewing your smoothie,”  as they say it can help you break down the food as it’s meant to be broken down.

2. Food is meant to be chewed.

If you do have to choose between smoothies and juices, smoothies are often the better choice, just because they have more of their whole food nutrition intact.

With juices, a lot of people end up throwing lots of fruits into their mix because juiced vegetables just don’t taste very good. Sweeter vegetables like beets and carrots have been popularized in the juice world to fix this palette problem. However, whether you’re juicing or “smoothing” fruits or high-sugar vegetables, you’re actually striping them down to their nectar and removing much of their essential fibers, leaving the sugar to go straight to your bloodstream which in turn creates a spike.

Harvard School of Public Health investigation found that the consumption of whole fruits is associated with a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas fruit juice consumption is associated with a higher risk.

Fluid, sweet, and practically on the top of the menu at every health bar across the country, smoothies – and their celebrated “detox diet” – must be the healthiest thing in the world, right? Not so much. Overconsumption – even of fruits and vegetables – places a strain on your digestive system and a stress on your body.

How does this become an issue? When all these different foods are blended into one easily drinkable refreshment, one doesn’t realize just how much food they’re actually consuming, neither with the eye nor with the gut . If you were to sit down and eat your fruits and vegetables bite by bite, chances are, your satiety signals would kick in much sooner, and you would stop.

This is why eating slowly and mindfully

is THE healthiest digestive practice.

Part of the problem with the quantity that you can fit into a smoothie is that your blender chops and mixes it down into much smaller sizes…yet we marvel at how conveniently packed the entire thing is.

If you’re making a smoothie, chances are you’re loading up on bananas, throwing in some greens, apples, and carrots, splashing coconut milk or juice for the base, adding berries, and possibly even a hefty scoop of protein powder. Ask yourself: could you actually down all that at once if you were chewing it bite by bite?

3. The calories and sugars in juices and smoothies can be off the charts, which your body doesn’t really pick up on because of the processed form of the food.

Let’s take a look at why smoothies and juices should not replace food, even if you are super busy.

When it comes to smoothies or juices, L.A-based chef, author, and T.V. host, Chef AJ, sums up our feelings quite nicely:

“It’s better to have the fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit!”

Still, we think its important to make clear to all our smoothie and juice lovers: We are not saying that all juices and smoothies are bad. What we are saying is that they should not replace actual meals or meal planning, and that eating moderately and mindfully is the best way to happy and healthy gut.