It seems that juicing can go either way when it comes to being good or bad for your immune system. On the one hand juicing is an important addition to your immune system wellness program because of the high concentration of nutrients. And drinking your juice first thing in the morning can give you a natural energy boost without resorting to stimulants like coffee. Since the juice is already in an easily digestible form, it can help revitalize your energy levels within as little as 20 minutes. But drinking some types of juice could be harmful. Here’s why… 

The Benefits of Juicing

Juicing helps you absorb more nutrients from vegetables and fruit. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over the years. It is suggested that for optimal nutrition we need to eat one pound of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight per day. Eating that many vegetables is difficult but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice. In addition you can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day – if they even eat a salad a day. And it is well known that regular food rotation increases your chances of avoiding allergies to a certain foods. With juicing you can juice a wider variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.

When Juicing Fails 

While fresh squeezed fruit juice can be a good source of vitamins and other nutrients it is also very high in fructose. In fact, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice has about eight teaspoons of sugar and at least 50 percent of that sugar is fructose. That's almost as much as a can of pop that contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Fructose has been identified as one of the primary culprits in the meteoric rise of obesity and related health problems along with high fructose corn syrup. Eating the whole fruit causes far less of a problem as the fiber tends to slow the sugar’s absorption and prevents over consumption. But once you remove the fiber, you end up with a different product. Additionally, a lot of the antioxidants are also lost in the process of pasteurization which most store bought juices are. The bottom line is that fruit juice will spike your insulin to a far greater degree than a piece of whole fruit. 

Not only will fructose raise insulin to chronically high levels over time, it also metabolizes differently from other sugars. Both of these facts significantly contribute to the creation of chronic diseases. From the work of researchers Dr. Robert Lustig and Dr. Richard Johnson we now know that high amounts of fructose:

  • Is readily metabolized into fat
  • Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body's appetite-control system which results in your eating more and developing insulin resistance
  • Rapidly leads to metabolic syndrome with decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure
  • Over time leads to insulin resistance that is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease but also many cancers
  • Contributes to the development of gout by increasing the levels of uric acid in your body. According to Dr. Johnson's research uric acid is associated with an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, as well as diabetes, obesity and kidney disease. In one study, published last year, women who drank 12 ounces or more of orange juice a day doubled their risk of gout, and those who drank just six ounces of juice per day still increased their risk by 41 percent 
  • Additionally when fruit juice is stored in containers the methanol in the juice will dissociate from the pectin and could increase your risk of Multiple Sclerosis

Store Bought Juice

If you buy juice at the store, you may lean towards the kind that advertises itself as “100 percent juice” and “not made from concentrate”.  But have you ever wondered why every glass of it tastes exactly the same? That’s because the flavor of store-bought juice has more to do with chemistry than nature. For example industrially produced orange juice is stored in holding tanks where the oxygen is removed. This allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. It also makes the juice completely flavorless. So the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the juice. Alissa Hamilton J.D, PhD, a Food and Society Policy Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), explains the ins and outs of mass-produced juice in her book, Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice. An interesting read. 

Juice Wisely

  • Try beet juice for not only boosting the immune system, but for many other functions as well. The beet and its greens are excellent for juices and salads. They contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, carotenoids, calcium, sulfur, iron potassium choline and manganese. Beets also cleanse the blood, improve brain function, strengthen the liver and gallbladder, build blood corpuscles and cells and fight cancer. Beet juice is very concentrated and is best when diluted with carrot or apple juice
  • Juice broccoli all year round. It is a very concentrated juice that needs to be mixed with a lighter juice such as carrot or apple. Broccoli boosts the immune system with vitamin B1, vitamin C, beta-carotene, protein, calcium, sulfur and potassium. It is also said to help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women
  • Sip carrot juice for the sweet taste and its many healthful functions. Carrots contain vitamin C, most of the B complex, iron, potassium, phosphorus and sodium. Carrots are an excellent base for other vegetable juices and its sweet flavor makes it acceptable to children. Besides boosting the immune system, carrots help liver function, alkalize the blood, soothe the nervous system and tone intestinal walls
  • Try sweet potatoes or yams to give your immune system a boost. Sweet potatoes are one of the greatest sources of beta-carotene, are rich in vitamin C, potassium, carbohydrates and calcium, and are a good source of fiber. Choose the darker colored yams for the highest vitamin content

Your immune system will surely benefit from the addition of mainly vegetable juice to your regular program.