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Juicing

Other common name(s): juice therapy

Scientific/medical name(s): none

Description

Juicing involves extracting juices from fresh fruit and uncooked vegetables as the main part of the diet.

Overview

There is no convincing scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods.

How is it promoted for use?

Juicing is promoted to enhance the immune system and prevent and treat a wide variety of conditions. The Internet abounds with promises of "glowing good health" from juicing. According to practitioners, "unnatural" foods cause imbalances in the body's cell composition, imbalances that are corrected and rebalanced with the juices' nutrients. This treatment method is frequently used to sustain the body during long fasts or as part of the Gerson regimen (see Gerson Therapy). Some other proponents suggest juicing as a way to add more plant-derived nutrients to a person's usual diet.

What does it involve?

Juice extractors grind food into small pieces that are spun to extract juice from the pulp.

What is the history behind it?

Juicing first became popular in the early 1990s, when proponents claimed that it could reverse everything from the natural aging process to chronic diseases such as cancer.

What is the evidence?

There is no convincing scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods. Juice extractors remove the fiber-containing pulp from the fruits and vegetables, which results in less fiber intake. Some proponents suggest eating the pulp from the juiced vegetables and fruits, which helps to keep enough fiber in the diet. Some vitamins that are present in the raw food are destroyed by heat. And a diet high in vegetables and fruits has been shown to reduce cancer risk and to improve overall health. On the other hand, available scientific evidence does not support claims that the enzymes from raw foods have special, health-giving properties, since they are broken down during digestion anyway.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

Overuse of juicing or consuming too much of certain juices can cause severe diarrhea, sometimes claimed to be "cleansing" by proponents who believe that "toxins" are removed from the body during this process. The juices from fruits and starchy vegetables such as carrots or beets can contain a lot of sugar, which may be harmful for diabetics and can contribute to weight gain. Overall, however, juicing is considered safe when it is used as part of a healthy diet. Commercially juiced products should be pasteurized to kill harmful germs, which can cause serious infections in some people whose immune system has been weakened by cancer. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.

Additional resources

More information from your American Cancer Society

The following information on complementary and alternative therapies may also be helpful to you. These materials may be found on our Web site (www.cancer.org) or ordered from our toll-free number (1-800-ACS-2345).

Dietary Supplements: What Is Safe?

The ACS Operational Statement on Complementary and Alternative Methods of Cancer Management

Complementary and Alternative Methods and Cancer

Placebo Effect

Learning About New Ways to Treat Cancer

Learning About New Ways to Prevent Cancer

References

Barrett S. Juicing. Accessed at: www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/juicing.html on June 10, 2008.

Doyle C, Kushi LH, Byers T, et al. The 2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee. American Cancer Society. Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006; 56:323-353.

Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, et al. American Cancer Society 2006 Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006; 56:254-281.

Note: This information may not cover all possible claims, uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical situation.

Last Medical Review: 11/01/2008
Last Revised: 11/01/2008