Updated: Feb 20
The internet and social media brings a lot information within inches of our eyes and fingertips. This is both good and bad because whether the information is right, wrong, or indifferent, people jump on the bandwagon because they saw it posted somewhere and it seems everyone it doing it. Juicing and blending are no different. However, there are some things you should know about both processes in order for them to be effective.
There is no competition between the two. They do different things. One is not better than the other. It all depends on your goals. The main point is to know the differences so that you make an informed choice and maximize your efforts.
The drink, whether juice or smoothie, has to be absorbed in the digestion process. This key factor is often overlooked or not understood resulting in a liquid mix called juice. Sweeping a bunch of produce and other stuff together into the blender is like going to a buffet, taking one of everything from the menu, mixing it finely and drinking it.
Just because it’s in liquid form doesn’t make it a juice and adding a banana with leafy greens over crushed ice doesn’t make it a smoothie. Let’s look closer at the difference. Here’s a simple breakdown of the two methods:
BLENDING & JUICING
No fiber separation; Fiber separation
Thick smoothies; Thin liquid
Slower digestion; Faster digestion
Longer satiety (feeling full); Shorter satiety
Meal replacement/snack; Meal replacement for cleanse/detoxing
High Oxidation (air/light/heat exposure); Low oxidation
Many companies will encourage you to use their recipe books.
Keep in mind that most blenders generally do the same thing just at different speeds. Some have with a few added features for purees, soups, or desserts. Blenders pulverize pulp (fiber) and liquid together as if you’ve chewed it a few hundred times.
It’s a good idea to “chew” your smoothie or juice to activate enzymes in the mouth to help break the food down. Swish it around like mouthwash or actually chew it.
Between fruit and vegetable, in terms of digestion, vegetables take longer than the fruit. So let’s think about a smoothie that contains spinach, strawberries, pineapple, kale, banana, and a scoop of protein power, for example (please do NOT make this in real life). We toss it all into a blender and ice (another no-no that slows digestion) and drink it. In about two hours, the fruit is ready to work through the systems, but the vegetable and protein are not finished, so they hold up the process. The fruit digestion slows or halts until the veggie and protein are completed. However, while the fruit is in the holding state, it is decaying or putrefying (rotting). By time it processes, it is of little use.
So that smoothie we made actually became sludge and extra stored glucose (sugar) which becomes body fat and waste. Counterproductive, right? Poor food combining is a common mistake we make in eating and drink foods. It results in a digestive traffic jam.
Blended smoothies are absorbed best with like foods, fruit for example, and a superfood powder or handful of nuts (cashew, pistachio, almonds all provide good fats and protein – stray from peanuts because they can be constipating). To blend veggies, follow the same protocol of mixing like foods for better absorption. However, a green apple can be added because it is has more alkaline when digested than other fruits and provides a sweetener. Raw honey can be added as well to temper the flavor.
Blending is great if you want to keep fiber which helps you feel full longer. It still has to digest like any other meal. Blending is predigested food.
On the contrary, juicing extracts just the liquid and separates the pulp. Since the major work of separating is done, it will digest, assimilate – reach the bloodstream – and eliminate faster, while providing maximum nutrition at the fastest rate possible.
Juicing is best if you are working seriously toward a weight reduction goal, fasting or medicinal reasons.
When I started to focus on my health, juicing was my primary meal method, maybe two or three a day with a solid meal at lunch or dinner. Smoothies were added later for variety, but only in small amounts. I needed to give the digestive system a break from working so hard on all the food I had already stored up! It needed to be eliminated, so juicing encouraged that process. Body waste is a large part of what we call “stubborn fat” around the middle area. It is not always fat but body waste in the intestine from food that has not moved. No matter how much you exercise, it won’t go away. The digestive track needs to flush it through and a cleaner, properly combined mix of foods is crucial.
Green juices in particular encourage the peristaltic (contracting pulse) in the intestine which moves the food along and out. Due to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), most of us have a sluggish system that pulsates around seven times a minute. Optimum pulse is about 20!
There are as many different models of juicers on the market as there are cars, but they all provide the basic benefit of straight juice, no fiber, low oxidation (some lower than others). They also range in other features like juicing grasses or roots, and of course cost can be a factor. Since juicing machines are less familiar or popular, I’ve provided a more in-depth explanation. Here is an example of a few types and what they do:
Centrifugal – This is the most popular style of home juicer available at the local big box stores where you can easily purchase off the shelf like you would your favorite snacks. Vegetables are ground up by tiny teeth on a rapidly spinning basket, and the juice is forced through a fine mesh sieve. This method produces a lot of foam from air. It’s best for carrots and other hard fruits and vegetables. If you’re not into juicing that much or very new to the process, this would probably work best for you. Centrifugal juicers are more also affordable, ranging from about $70 up.
Masticating – This next level juicer “chews” the vegetable using a cutter, then presses the juice from the pulp. It’s good for for hard vegetables and fruits, but may require a separate attachment for leafy greens and/or wheatgrass. This is a popular style in industrial restaurant kitchens, but not best for home use because it can be messy and bulky. Cost starts around $200.
Vertical Single (Auger Juicer) – An auger is like a big, threaded screw that pulls the vegetable into the juicing chamber and presses the juice out. The auger can turn anywhere from 45 to 80 rpm, resulting in slowly produced, low foam, low temperature, high-volume, and nutrient-dense juice. They can be oriented vertically or horizontally. These are good for greens and/or hard roots. This model is usually in the $300 – $400 range and best for those who want a high quality, low oxidation juice from the home kitchen.
Twin Auger Juicer – For greens such as kale, spinach, and wheatgrass, a twin-gear juicer extracts the most juice of all. Twin auger juicers are also the most expensive, setting you back over $500. The two gears work together to crush the cell walls of the vegetable and extract the juice. They’re best for greens and other tough fibrous vegetables and not great for fruit.
As you work through the options of juicing and blending, remember the main thing is to get the nutrition. Many times, less is more in terms of digesting foods. Both are relatively simple methods. I usually juice or blend no more than five fruits or vegetables together and maybe one or two other things. Keep it simple and your body will thank you in more ways than one.
Here’s a Basic Green Juice recipe and you can find many more in my book, My Secret Transformation; How I Detoxed My Life and Reinvented Myself.
Basic Green Juice
1 small bunch of spinach; 2 celery stalks; 2 carrots
VKNOX is a holistic nutrition wellness practitioner, behavior change specialist, fitness nutrition educator, lifestyle transformation coach and author. She is the creator of the R.A.W. Lifestyle System.