Tobacco, fat and sugar – they are the arch-enemies of our health and from April 2018 there is to be a new sugar tax on sweet, fizzy drinks, which will help fund sport in schools. It’s a laudable effort, particularly to persuade families to encourage their children to swap cans of pop for natural hydration, but the issue becomes a bit confused when it comes to juice.
It’s easy for juice-sceptics to point the finger at the sugar in a glass of freshly extracted juice, but – and here’s the truth – these are natural sugars, and are NOT the same as the sugar found in fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes.
In the 5-Day Juice Challenge, which was published way back in 2014 before sugar started hitting the headlines as public enemy #1, I wrote, ‘The white refined nutrient-stripped sugar found in a doughnut and a fizzy drink is clearly not the same as the unrefined vitamin, mineral and soluble fibre-rich ‘sugar’ found in an apple and the fresh juice extracted from it’.
To most of us it’s blindingly obvious and plain common sense, but it is refined sugar which is the guilty culprit in causing obesity and preventable lifestyle diseases. Highly addictive – just like nicotine – it is found in everything from bread, chips, crisps, chocolate bars, fizzy drinks, muffins, waffles, biscuits – the list is endless.
However, you will NOT find it in broccoli, kale, carrots, apples, spinach, celery, avocados, cucumber or any other natural product that goes into a freshly extracted juice.
Even though many of us are self-confessed juice fanatics, it’s because we know the fantastic feeling our bodies experience when we enjoy freshly extracted fruit and vegetable juice.
This is NOT the same as the addiction to refined sugar which has people craving foods which are unhealthy and potentially hazardous to their wellbeing, and which – when denied – causes headaches, anxiety, the shakes and other symptoms of withdrawal.
When people claim, ‘All sugars are the same,’ they miss the point that the unrefined sugars found in fruit and vegetables also contain micronutrients and soluble fibre. It is this fibre which helps to slow down the absorption of sugars in the bloodstream. Shop bought pasteurised juices do not have this fibre and it’s because of this that these juices raise sugar levels too quickly.
The ‘all sugars are the same’ argument also doesn’t make sense when you look at freshly extracted juices in action. When people are on one of my juice-only plans, they will still have sugar withdrawal during the first 72 hours. If the juices are all full of sugar, as is the claim, then how can someone still crave sugar or suffer sugar withdrawal when they are apparently only having sugar in the form of juice?!
Once we’re past the unrefined sugar debate, there’s the sticky matter of high/low Glycemic Index (GI). Now, again, common sense must be applied. A pasteurised bottle or carton of apple juice does indeed have a high GI, and invariably a host of chemicals too, but a freshly extracted homemade apple juice has none of these and is – by contrast – low GI. The heat applied during the pasteurisation process completely changes the molecular structure and functioning nutrition of any liquid, but this does NOT happen when you juice fruit and vegetables.
Next up is fructose, traditionally seen as a natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables. Well, while this is true, fructose is also a cheap, manmade ingredient that food manufacturers add, particularly to pasteurised juices, where it becomes a bad boy, along with glucose and many of the other manufactured refined sugar ingredients found in processed foods. Again, common sense must be applied, and a freshly extracted juice – even with its natural fructose – does not have the same effect as refined sugar products on our bodies. It’s things like high fructose corn syrup and white table sugar (50 per cent fructose) which are the problem.
Remember juicy people, ‘The sugar in an apple is indeed not the same as the sugar in a doughnut’. Say it enough and perhaps it will stick, because it really is as simple as that.