Juicing is a popular health and wellness trend that has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry over the last decade.
Juice enthusiasts highlight the many attributes of drinking a fresh glass of juice, citing benefits like weight loss, increased nutrient intake, and easier digestion and absorption of said nutrients.
Though drinking fresh juice may have some health benefits, it may not be right for everyone — especially those with diabetes.
This article reviews whether juicing is safe and healthy for people with diabetes.
Juicing is the process by which liquid from food — usually a fruit or vegetable — is extracted and separated from the solid components.
The liquid — or juice — produced by this process contains many of the vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds from the fruit or vegetable but little of the fiber.
There are many different methods for making juice, ranging from simple to complex.
Juice can be purchased from the grocery store or made at home.
Proponents of the juicing trend suggest that the benefits of homemade juice outweigh those of store-bought varieties, as it’s fresher and doesn’t contain added sugars, artificial nutrients, or preservatives.
Here are some of the most common ways to make juice at home:
- Manual (hand-held). The simplest way to make juice is to squeeze fruit using your hands or a simple hand-held juicer. This method is often used to make a small amount of juice for basic recipes like cocktails or salad dressings.
- Centrifugal. Centrifugal juicing uses a machine fitted with metal blades that spin rapidly, pressing the flesh of the fruit or vegetable against a filter that separates juice from solid components of the food using centrifugal force.
- Cold press (masticating). Cold press juicing methods utilize a machine that crushes the fruit or vegetable to extract the juice.
Cold pressing is often thought to be superior to centrifugal juicing because — as the name implies — no heat is produced in the process, which may protect more of the heat-sensitive nutrients ().
Regardless of how you choose to make your juice, juicing can be an effective way to increase your nutrient intake from fruits and vegetables ().
Summary Juicing is the process of extracting the nutrient-rich liquid from fruits and vegetables, removing most of the fiber.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that are well known for reducing inflammation, preventing disease, and promoting overall health ().
Research suggests that drinking fruit and vegetable juice could be an efficient way to access these valuable benefits (, )
Additionally, many fruit and vegetable juices contain certain nutrients that function as prebiotics. The term “prebiotics” refers to specific types of carbohydrates that feed the healthy bacteria that live in your gut and promote digestive health ().
A short-term study in 20 healthy adults found that drinking 96 ounces (2.8 liters) of fresh juice per day for 3 days — while excluding all other foods — positively altered gut bacteria composition and promoted weight loss for up to 2 weeks after the intervention ().
Interestingly, many of the perceived benefits of juicing — like improved nutrient intake and digestive health — are similar to those you would get by simply eating more whole fruits and vegetables (, ).
What’s more, research suggests that people who regularly drink unsweetened fruit and veggie juice also tend to eat more whole fruits and vegetables ().
For some people, it may be easier to drink these nutrient-rich foods than to prepare full meals centered around them.
If you find it difficult to meet the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a viable option — provided that drinking juice doesn’t make you consume more calories than you need per day.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind that there is evidence is lacking to suggest that drinking your produce is any more beneficial than eating them whole ().
Summary Drinking fruit and vegetable juice may be an easy way to consume beneficial nutrients and plant compounds — potentially reducing your risk of disease and inflammation. Still, it is unlikely to be more beneficial than eating your produce whole.
One of the main problems with drinking juice is not the juice itself but it’s potential to quickly raise your blood sugar. This is of particular concern for those with diabetes.
Drinking 100% juice is not associated with an increased risk of diabetes, though it may not be the best choice for those who already have the condition (, ).
While juices are a concentrated source of beneficial nutrients, they’re also a concentrated source of carbs in the form of sugar.
If you have diabetes, carefully monitoring and controlling your carb intake is essential to maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. Eating a high-fiber diet can slow the rate of absorption of sugar from your digestive tract, reducing total blood sugar response ().
Because a large portion of the fiber is removed from fruits and vegetables in the juicing process, the sugars in these foods are consumed and absorbed more quickly, leading to rapid blood sugar spikes (, ).
For instance, it takes 2–3 whole oranges to make a single cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) of fresh orange juice. Most people would agree that downing this amount of orange juice is a lot easier and faster than peeling, slicing, chewing, and swallowing several whole oranges.
Thus, eating the whole fruit — not just the juice — lends itself to a slower, more manageable rise in blood sugar, partially because the process of consuming it takes longer.
Moreover, it’s a lot easier to accidentally overconsume calories and sugar from juice than from whole foods. Excess calorie intake can promote weight gain and subsequent worsening of blood sugar control over time ().
Summary Juices contain high levels of carbs in the form of sugars, which may contribute to rapid elevations in blood sugar — especially for people with diabetes.
Most juices are high in sugar and low in fiber and protein. This may be part of why drinking juice leads to a negative blood sugar response in people with diabetes.
Research suggests that eating meals or snacks that are higher in fiber and protein may help curb blood sugar response and increase feelings of fullness ().
Because of this, a common dietary strategy used to improve diabetic control is to pair high-carb foods — like juice — with other foods that contain fiber and protein.
Though carb content varies depending on the type of fruit or vegetable used in a particular juice, a serving size of 100% fruit juice is usually 0.5 cups (4 ounces or 119 ml) — a serving size that is easily exceeded.
Conversely, when you eat carbs from whole foods, the portion sizes are typically larger. This allows you to eat more and feel more satisfied since whole foods contain more filling nutrients like fiber and protein.
Protein is the most filling macronutrient, and adding protein sources to meals and snacks may help you limit your overall calorie intake — subsequently reducing your blood sugar response ().
If you’re planning on drinking juice, eating a source of protein and fiber alongside it — like a small handful of almonds — may help mitigate the rise in blood sugar.
Summary Most juices lack fiber and protein, two nutrients that may otherwise help curb blood sugar response.
It’s easy to drink too much juice, which can contribute to poor blood sugar control in people with diabetes. However, there are a few steps you can take to help reduce the potential negative impacts of drinking juice.
Choose lower-carb juices
Opting to use lower-carb fruits and vegetables in your juices may help minimize blood sugar response.
Try mixing low-carb options like cucumber, lemon, or lime with your fruit juices to reduce overall carb content. Alternatively, consider foregoing the fruits and drink veggie-only juices made with non-starchy vegetables like celery, spinach, kale, and tomato.
If you purchase juices instead of making them at home, be sure to avoid juices with added sugars, as these can worsen blood sugar control ().
Focus on portion control
Monitoring portions of all carb-rich foods is an essential component for any diet aimed at managing diabetes — and juice is no exception.
The portion size of a serving of 100% fruit juice is usually 0.5 cups (4 ounces or 119 ml).
Paying close attention to how many carbs you drink from juice in relation to the total amount of carbs you consume from other foods throughout your day can help you keep your blood sugar in check.
Maintain nutritional balance
Juices typically don’t provide a balanced source of nutrition on their own, as they often lack fiber, protein, and fat.
Eating foods that contain other nutritional components alongside your juice will create a more balanced nutrient composition of your overall diet and may help lower your blood sugar response.
For example, you may consider having a smoothie instead of a juice so you don’t miss out on fiber.
When you blend fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie, the fiber is broken down, but it’s still present in the final product. This makes it a more nutritionally balanced choice compared to drinking juice.
Plus, protein powders and healthy fat sources like avocados can easily be added to smoothies.
You can also consider having a boiled egg or a handful of nuts with your juice to add healthy fats and protein to the mix for a more balanced snack or meal.
Summary Choosing juices with fewer carbs, paying attention to portion sizes, and including plenty of healthy fats, protein, and fiber can help minimize any negative effects that drinking juice may have on your blood sugar.
Whether or not juicing fits into a healthy diabetic diet plan depends on the individual.
If you have diabetes, how your blood sugar responds to foods and beverages is individual because of your unique genetic and biochemical makeup ().
If your diabetes is poorly controlled, juices are likely not a good option right now. You may instead benefit from other ways of incorporating whole vegetables and fruits into your diet.
If your diabetes is well controlled, adding small amounts of low-sugar juice to your diet may be suitable. However, it’s important to continue closely monitoring your blood sugar as you introduce this dietary change.
Overall, the best approach is to consult with a dietitian or other qualified healthcare practitioner to help you develop a dietary plan tailored to your unique nutritional needs.
Summary If your blood sugar is not well controlled, juices may worsen your health situation. If you currently have good diabetic control, small amounts of fresh juice may be a healthy choice, but you need to closely monitor your body’s response to this dietary change.
Juicing is an increasingly popular and efficient way of consuming beneficial nutrients in fruits and vegetables.
Although fresh juices can be healthy for some people, they may not be a great choice for people with diabetes due to their high sugar content and how they can increase your blood sugar.
Choosing more vegetable-based juices and paying attention to portion sizes are ways that may help reduce blood sugar response after drinking juice.
If you have diabetes and are interested in adding juice to your diet, consult with a dietitian to develop a plan tailored to your unique nutrition needs.