Updated: Jan 5
This subject offers great debate between the die-hard juicing enthusiasts, over the converted smoothie aficionados.
There are benefits to both, to be sure, but does one really offer more benefits over the other?
Smoothie or Blending
Using a blender, regular or industrial, whole foods are blended until liquid. You can gage your preferred level of viscosity when you blend, some like it a bit “chewy”, others prefer it to be more like “silk” when they drink it, like a juice. It all comes down to personal preference.
Great as a meal replacement when mixed with protein powder or meal replacement powder.
Contains the whole foods including the fiber, great for those with digestive issues (Celiac, IBD/IBS) as liquid food is easily taken up by the intestines and assimilated into the body.
Whole food is consumed, with pulp and seeds making it a relatively low glycemic load solution to meals on the go.
Better for those going through cancer treatment than juicing - giving them easily digested nutrition — including the beneficial pulp that can grab excess hormones and chemicals and take them out of their body.
Stress shuts down digestion, and consuming a liquid whole food is a great way to introduce nutrition - that passes by the stomach and is taken up directly by the intestines. So on those days when you can’t break away from your desk for a meal, using a smoothie or blended soup is a great way to get nutrition into you, without the resulting heartburn or dicky tummy.
Best bet is to blend then mix. When adding protein powder with blending, it’s best to blend everything at once, get to your desired viscosity then add your protein powder and any supplements. Then you blend only to mix, just a few seconds. Or even better, add your smoothie to a shaker bottle, then add your protein powder and let the shaker ball do all of the work. Blending all your gorgeous ingredients with the protein powder denatures the protein isolate that can increase your “wind” , making you feel gassy and bloated (in other words it makes you farty).
Using nothing but fruits can make it higher glycemic than eating the food, masticating it yourself is better than juicing.
Due to the high speeds at which you blend these foods, enzymes are broken down but not lost completely. Since heat and light are the two elements that destroy natural vitamin C, the high heat of blending may destroy some of the naturally occurring vitamin C in fruits and vegetables.
A special machine masticates fruit and veggies into a liquid, removing the solids, leaving the remaining pulp to toss or reuse.
Great for those with digestive issues (diverticulitis -removes seeds), you enjoy all the benefits of concentrated nutrients without the digestion upset. Juicing maybe good for those going through chemo giving them nutrition and energy, when their body is not able to retain meals. Anyone recovering from surgery or injury can benefit from nutrients from juicing, it has been shown to benefit recovery after the body has gone through a trauma.
You can mix many kinds of hard foods like beets and carrots with leafy greens like wheat grass into liquid nutrition. Beets and carrots are high in beta carotenes, folate, phytonutrients called flavonoids.
Wheat grass: As we are not bovines with four stomachs and teeth that are built as grinders, we cannot process wheat grass in our stomachs, so the only way to consume this is in juiced form. Wheat grass is a great detoxifier, and should be started very slowly, as you can send yourself into a detox hangover: headache, nausea, and lethargy. Wheat grass is a grass, it’s in no way related to wheat and can be enjoyed by those with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Specific alternative medical practices like the Gerson Therapy favours juicing over smoothies, for treatment of cancer. Juicing veggies over fruits is better and more alkalizing than fruits for those that have cancer or heart disease.
Juicing makes great foods into high glycemic foods - removing the fiber from the fruit or veg when juiced, increases the speed at which your body processes the juice; an example would be, carrots and beets being high glycemic when juiced. This includes fruits like apples and pears.
Removing the pulp removes the great soluble fiber that helps move food waste through our system faster, increasing transit time. Juiced pulp also contains an amazing amount of nutrients that most people throw away.
Unless you invest in a very expensive juicer, most juicers destroy a good amount of natural healthy enzymes that make juicing beneficial.
Pain to clean the machine. It can also destroy naturally occurring vitamins like vitamin C, unless you use a cold pressed juicer, but these gorgeous machines can run you plenty bucks.
Let’s explore Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load
You can't bring up blending over juicing without talking about the difference between Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load. For decades we have been measuring the glycemic index of a food and have ignored the carbohydrates and fibre that accompany a whole food. Measuring the whole food is a more accurate way of measuring and consuming food intake.
Glycemic Index provides information on how fast the body digests the food, IE sugar the food contains:
Low GI Foods: 55 or less
Moderate GI Foods: 56-69
High GI Foods: 70-100
Foods that contain carbohydrates that are easily digested, absorbed, and metabolized have a high GI. Whereas low GI foods have slowly digestible carbohydrates that elicit a reduced glucose response. White table sugar is the highest at 100.
Glycemic Load compares the potential of foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose; but the amount of carbohydrates contained in a food serving also affects the blood glucose concentrations; which in turn influences the insulin response in the body. In other words, it looks at the whole food and not just how the isolated carbohydrate (sugar) is seen and processed by the body.
Low GL Foods: 10 or less
Moderate GL Foods: 11-19
High GL Foods: 20+
For a complete list of GI and GL foods click here. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/food-beverages/glycemic-index-glycemic-load#table-1
Example: one medium Russet potato GI is 111; it contains 30g of available carbohydrates, making the GL of the potato 33, still considered high.
As always, it's best to eat a diet that is low in the Glycemic Index & Load foods to manage insulin spikes. These dietary spikes in insulin can preclude Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes Type II.
As a nutritionist I always side with Smoothies/Blending over Juicing.
Whole foods are better than partial foods. Removing the pulp removes a vital part of the whole food, fibre and key nutrients. The fibre helps feed our good gut bugs and reduces the bad gut bugs. Including more fibre in your food can help increase gut motility, reduce gas and bloating and increase elimination. In the long-term, increasing good gut bugs increases our immune system, heals leaky gut and increases our serotonin production — our happy hormone.
Two things that slow down how fast you digest foods are: fat & fibre. If you are a die-hard juicer, add a good fat to your juice like avocado or coconut oil, or shake in some ground: oats, flax or chia seeds to increase the fibre and increase you omega 3’s and manage how fast your body processes foods.
“Can you combine juicing and smoothies?”
For some people I recommend instead of investing in a juicer, head to your local juice bar and grab a cup of wheat grass, beet or carrot juice. Take these home and freeze them into ice cubes to add to a smoothie later. You get the benefit of the nutrition with the smoothness of a juice (you will lose some nutrients with freezing but only slightly).
Mixing a lotta veggies with a few fruits makes a prefect blend of liquid nutrition.
My base smoothie starts with:
1C filtered water
3" English cucumber (potassium, folate — good for the kidneys)
handful of parsley (Flat or curly, calcium, vit C, iron and magnesium — good for the immune system and bones)
2 celery stalks (vit K, folate and potassium — good for the kidneys)
1 cube of wheat grass
Add 1-2 fresh or frozen fruits to whatever desired taste you want that day. Blend away.