What is juicing all about?

Do you juice? Juicing, or extracting juice from fruit and vegetables has become a huge trend across the globe. Once the domain of cafes and smoothie stalls, juicing has also made its way into the home, with a wide variety of appliances available to consumers.

On the one hand, people use juicing as a novel way to get some fruit and veg into their daily diet, while others can take the trend to the extreme and rely solely on juice for nutrition. We look at some of the questions surrounding the juicing trend to see whether it could be beneficial to pop a few extra colourful ingredients into that produce bag next time you're doing the grocery shopping.

What does a juicer do, exactly?

A juicer grinds fruit and vegetables down to tiny pieces to extract juice from them. Unlike thick smoothies, the ground up pulp is separated from the liquid, leaving you with a smooth final product. You can add vegetables to the chute which connects to the blades either whole, or chopped up depending on the size of your juicer. 

However it is worth noting that unlike blending produce in a blender, juicing requires more fruit to make a full glass. For example, a small glass of apple juice could require anything from four to five apples, depending on the fruit size.

What are the benefits?

While juicing is a great way to add nutrients to your diet if you aren't a fan of the texture or flavour of some fruit or veg, experts say you shouldn't rely on it as a sole source. The Australian Government recommended intake for adults is two servings of fruit and five for vegetables.

By juicing some of these servings together, we can keep our bodies fuelled on fresh produce which contains things like phytonutrients, which are both anti-inflammatory and promote health against cancer, according to cardiologist Dr Joel Khan. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants which can be vital in 'rebooting' a sick or worn out body, says Dr Khan in his piece for MindBodyGreen.

Juicing can also be a great way to take those benefits with you, especially if you're on the go or at work. Just prep your juice before you leave home and decant into your stainless steel bottle for a boost at lunch instead of a store bought drink full of concentrate and artificial sweetening.

What to watch out for?

While we know that juicing can be a good way to cleanse your body, detoxing with the goal of losing weight is not necessarily the way to go. Dr John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition tells Livestrong that low calorie detox juice diets are effectively starvation diets, which can disrupt hormonal activity and send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster.

He adds that any apparent shrinking will be most likely linked to water and carbohydrate stores as well as a intestinal debulk, meaning that as soon as you stop juicing the effects will wear off. Even more concerning is the deprivation nature of these detox diets, potentially causing your body to rebound, which according to Dr Berardi could impact your relationship with eating altogether.

According to WebMD, another thing to watch is the loss of fibre, which provides a lot of the benefit from that fresh produce. Much of the fibre is lost through the pulp which is separated from the final juice product. You can add this back in afterwards, which is often pleasant if you are purely juicing things like apples or oranges, or take vegetable pulp and add to a savoury muffin mix, as suggested by WebMD's Anna Nguyen.

If you're not intending on using your fibre-filled pulp, make sure you clean out the pulp container promptly, as it can attract dreaded house or fruit flies.