I just returned from a trip to Tennessee, where I’m from, and let me just say the lifestyle/culture around food is VERY different than where I’ve been the last 11 years. When you’re a kid you don’t read food or ingredient labels, and most kids, at least when I was growing up, were not counting calories or watching out for sugar content. It’s a little different these days with childhood obesity becoming a near pandemic. And while I was enjoying a grapefruit this morning, the subject of store-bought juice began to scream in my head as what I needed to research and share with y’all.
As kids, and adults, we are told to eat our fruits and veggies, eat more fruits and veggies than grains and protein. The premise of this is actually really good! Easily accessible vitamin C is the most well-known reason, potassium, folate, phytonutrients, and plant-based sources of soluble fiber are some others. Eating whole plants – ok maybe not some peels/skins but you know what I mean- give the body a majority of our needed nutrition without supplementation. Remember that old adage, “careful not to have too much of a good thing?” That’s important. Furthermore what do food companies LOVE to do? Fix shit than ain’t broken and feed us lies. Ok, maybe a gross over-exaggeration but hear me out.
Point A) Scurvy
Scurvy is caused by not enough vitamin C in the diet. It typically takes at least a month of little to no vitamin C before symptoms occur. In modern times, it occurs most commonly in people with mental disorders, unusual eating habits, alcoholism, and old people who live alone. Other risk factors include intestinal malabsorption and dialysis … Early symptoms include weakness, feeling tired, curly hair, and sore arms and legs. Without treatment, decreased red blood cells, gum disease, and bleeding from the skin may occur.
Cases of scurvy in current times are found in underdeveloped nations where malnutrition reigns. This is NOT America. Don’t agree? Have you seen your grocery store? 50′ aisles stocked 8-10 deep of 80 brands or more? That’s almost 1000 food items per aisle… we are not malnourished, we are over-supplied, over-fed, and made to feel guilty about not eating what’s in front of us because “there are staving children in Africa who don’t get to eat.” Or at least, that’s what they told me in elementary school when we didn’t eat our entire trough.. I mean tray.. of food to make a “happy plate”. #barf
At some point a long the line medical professionals tied the pieces together that consumers were paying attention to vitamin C intake because it kept them from getting sick, not getting sick must mean it’s good for our immune system. Except one quick thing… it turns out Vitamin C has nothing to do with immunity. “Excellent source of Vitamin C” on food labels is nothing short of a con playing on peoples’ misguided assumptions. Isn’t that fun?
Supplementation of vitamin C is most effective in cases of physical strain or insufficient intake of the vitamin. With regard to the therapy of the common cold the application of vitamin C alone is without clinical effects. – National Center for Biotechnology Information
Next up: Fructose
You saw this coming. Hi pink elephant! Let’s start with the facts.
Fructose – a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, vegetables, & honey.
Unlike glucose, which is metabolized widely in the body, fructose is metabolized almost completely in the liver in humans, where it is directed toward replenishment of liver glycogen and triglyceride synthesis. Under one percent of ingested fructose is directly converted to plasma triglyceride. 29% – 54% of fructose is converted in liver to glucose, and about quarter of fructose is converted to lactate. 15% – 18% is converted to glycogen. Glucose and lactate are then used normally as energy to fuel cells all over the body. – Wikipedia
The lactate and glycogen byproducts are most efficiently used by the muscles in the body during & post-exercise. The remaining 30-60% of fructose that is turned into glucose is used for other cell functions and the body’s normal metabolic needs. Not so bad, right?
When we eat fruits and veggies, our ingestion of fructose is actually quite low and manageable for the body to breakdown and use as it needs. Eating is a much slower process than drinking. And, “also, let’s not forget the evolutionary argument… humans and pre-humans have been eating fruit for millions of years. The human body is well adapted to the small amounts of fructose found in nature.”
Here’s where things go wrong.
When fruit and vegetable juice drinks become the ingestion method of choice, we actually are consuming a lot more fructose all at once. The body absorbs liquids a lot faster than solids because there’s not nearly as much to beak down. When this happens, the high rate/concentrated amounts of fructose that hit the liver cause the fat storage/creation mode. Prolonged elevated glucose levels from the excessive fructose can lead to diabetes, and then sugar in general is corrosive on its own. We like it because it tastes good, and it tastes good because of the sugar. We don’t NEED juice. We are addicted to juice.
4 oranges = 8oz, 1 cup juice (on average)
When do you ever sit down and eat 4 oranges in one sitting? The photo above, btw, is juice from ONE GRAPEFRUIT (after I’d eaten the fleshy parts, this is what I squeezed out).
Ever seen the words “__ juice from concentrate” on a label? It’s usually right under where it says in huge print “100% Real Juice”. Btw… don’t you ever think it’s strange companies need to advertise that juice is anything but? Organic, frozen, pasteurized, fresh-squeezed (really? come on) natural, real, fruit, or vegetable, it doesn’t matter. You’re consuming dozens of fruits that have been pulverized, pressurized, heated, and (usually sugar added) in a quantity that you probably don’t/wouldn’t eat whole in a week.
Take this into consideration at your next trip to the grocery store or when you order that fresh-squeezed OJ at brunch. Maybe have whole fruits around your house instead when you need that juice fix. Getting your stone and citrus fruits in season are incomparable!