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Hype-free health: juicing shots

We bring you the definitive facts around the latest health trends. Here, we look at nutritional juices

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fruit juices

THE HYPE

The number of juice bars continues to rise, and so have the health concerns over their benefits, with the British Medical Journal highlighting that some juices have the same sugar content as fizzy drinks and are of low dietary value, as they don’t contain the nutritious pulp.

While debates rage over the risks of the -oses (fructose, sucrose and glucose), a new wellbeing whizz has entered from stage left – health shots. These powerhouses quickly flood the body with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, as they are highly concentrated. ‘Shots are faster-acting, as they tend to be a single plant type such as wheat- or barleygrass, and are easily absorbed because they’re not bound up with other ingredients that can slow absorption,’ explains Liz Earle, author of Juice (Kyle Books, £14.99). But do all the best things really come in small packages? Or are these dense drinks more of a long shot?

THE FACTS

  • Vegetable or plant-based shots can be healthier than fruit-based juices, as they contain less sugar. ‘The health benefits will depend on what’s in the shot or juice, but if you’re comparing like-for-like (a veg juice or a veg shot, for example), then they are equally beneficial,’ says Kara Rosen, founder of juice company Plenish.
  • Scientific American reported that anecdotal evidence on wheatgrass has undermined scientific results. In the 1940s, holistic health practitioner Ann Wigmore noted that dogs and cats eat grass when ill. Believing its enzymes and chlorophyll constituted its healing powers, she blended fresh wheatgrass into juice. Yet, Prof William T. Jarvis, founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud, argued it’s nonsense as, ‘orally ingested enzymes are digested in the stomach and chlorophyll can’t detoxify the body as it’s not absorbed.’
  • Juicemaster.com founder Jason Vale says we shouldn’t underestimate the nutritional power of a single ingredient-based shot. ‘A garlic shot is perhaps the finest natural antibiotic. It’s antiviral and anti-fungal and unlike synthetic antibiotics, it won’t kill off healthy bacteria.’

THE VERDICT

The correct juicing equipment is vital to fully reap the benefits of shots and juices. Many shop-bought juices are heat-treated and pasteurised to ensure a longer shelf life and, as a result, most nutrients are lost. But many juicers and blenders fully masticate the entire contents, allowing you to consume the rich pulp that hasn’t been denatured.

Ultimately, shots (or juices) shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a healthy diet filled with lots of fresh produce. But if you have a hectic timetable and are not getting enough fresh produce into your diet,they can help increase your vitamin and mineral intake. However, you should also watch your quantities. Several shots taken in a single day can add up to around 1kg of fresh veg, which can actually tax the body and digestive system, and many people suffer stomach upset (including gas, diarrhoea and cramps as a result). Our motto at Psychologies is: everything in moderation. Lay the pieces of veg out on a table. If you can’t comfortably eat them in a day, you shouldn’t be drinking them down in juice-form either.

Photograph: Corbis

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