Is it healthy to drink your food?

Eastern, Mediterranean and Latin American cultures have been ‘juicing’ fruit to supplement their nutrient-rich diets for hundreds of years.

‘Smoothies’ arrived in the 1930s with invention of the blender. In the 1970s, smoothies got popular, which happened to coincide with a cultural swing towards eating unprocessed foods.

As a result of their seemingly wholesome roots, people assume that juices and smoothies are healthy. However, research shows that drinking your food may not be such a good idea.

Why liquify?

Liquid food may be necessary when you, or members of your family, have trouble chewing or digesting whole food; or you have a chronic fussy eater. In these situations, homemade juices and smoothies are a great way to deliver critical nutrients to sustain life. However, they can never fulfill all dietary requirements and overdoing it can be harmful.

Some say that juicing/blending is a ‘time saver’. More often than not, the prep and clean up time is the same as eating the whole food.

Commercial juices and smoothies offer a ‘healthy snack on the go’. Unfortunately, you have no control over the quantity or quality of the ingredients.

TIP: Check for added sugar and always buy the smallest size available.

Go for 2 & 5

A healthy adult diet includes 2 serves of whole fruit and 5 serves of whole vegetables per day. The liquification process damages or removes fibre and nutrients, and upsets the nutritional balance of the food.

Fruits and vegetables are Carbohydrates and contain the energy molecules – Glucose and Fructose (sugars). Fruit contains extra Fructose (‘fruit sugar’). In high doses (i.e. fruit juice), Fructose can damage your liver.

It is tempting to stuff a huge amount of fresh produce into a single drink to get a hyper dose of nutrients. But remember, nutrients always travel with Glucose and Fructose energy.

Only juice or blend the amount of food you would ordinarily eat in one sitting, and keep the fruit to a minimum.

Things to know

  • Always wash fruit and vegetables before eating.
  • Juicing removes the majority of skin and pulp, which contains dietary fibre and essential nutrients such as flavonoids and carotenoids. Fibre slows down absorption of energy into your bloodstream, which regulates your Insulin and keeps your appetite satisfied.

  • Fresh ingredients start oxidizing when cut or processed, which destroys nutrients very quickly. So drink your juice or smoothie immediately, or seal and store it in a cool, dark place.
  • Chewing works your jaw muscles and produces alkaline saliva to offset the natural acid in fruits and vegetables. When you drink your food, you skip this ‘pre-digestive’ step. Over time, high body acidity damages your teeth, bones, muscles and liver; and increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.

  • Drink slowly through a straw to protect your teeth from food acid, and take the same time you would to eat the food when whole.

There is no substitute for eating whole fruit and vegetables, and drinking water.

Download the ‘Nature’s Perfect Package’ poster to help explain to your child the problems associated with drinking fruit and vegetable juices.