According to board-certified gastroenterologist Kenneth Brown, MD, it’s possible…but not necessarily your number one method of slurping your way to a thriving gut microbiome. Go ahead, get the *squeeze* on juicing for gut health. Plus: Gastro’s own choice five-ingredient juice recipe.
What does science say about drinking juice for gut health?
Dr. Brown notes that juicing can be a convenient way to increase fruit and vegetable intake, especially for those who don’t normally stock their fridge with a lot of produce. That said, he cites a few reasons juicing generally falls short for gut health and overall diet.
For starters, juicing removes most of the fiber from produce. According to a 2021 study from the American Society for Nutrition, only 9% of women and 5% of men consume enough fiber on a daily basis. (For reference, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that women should get 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should get 38 grams.) “Fiber helps with digestion and feeds healthy gut bacteria,” says Dr. Brown. He also mentions its importance for balancing blood sugar and maintaining a healthy heart.
Retaining the fiber content, especially in fruit, also reduces the impact sugar will have on your system. “Juices made from 100 percent fruit are often high in sugar,” says Dr. Brown. “Without the fiber to slow digestion, these sugars are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar spikes.” Plus, he adds, juicing can lead to the loss of certain beneficial vitamins and polyphenols. And whether you’re juicing at home or buying a fresh-squeezed mix, these drinks can end up getting pricey. “Juicing requires more fruits and vegetables to make a single serving of juice than simply eating or blending the fruit or vegetable,” continues Dr. Brown. Unless you’re reusing the waste and pulp, it’s not the most economical or sustainable way to load up on nutrients.
“Juicing requires more fruits and vegetables to make a single serving of juice than simply eating or blending the fruit or vegetable,” continues Dr. Brown. Unless you’re reusing the waste and pulp, it’s not the most economical or sustainable way to load up on nutrients.
With these points in mind, he advises eating (or drinking) the products in their fullest form whenever possible. “It’s healthier to eat whole fruits or vegetables, or consume them in a form that retains their natural fiber, such as smoothies, rather than relying solely on juice,” says Dr. Brown. (Top tip: You can always add more liquid to your shakes to maintain a juice-like consistency while keeping the good-for-your-gut fiber intact.)
But all of this certainly doesn’t mean you should avoid juicing at all costs. According to a 2021 review in the magazine nutrients, 100 percent fruit juice (FJ) “appears to offer more benefits than risks and there appears to be no justification for discouraging FJ within a balanced diet for children and adults.” While these benefits are less specific to gut health, a healthy diet with moderate consumption of fruit juice can support vascular function, lower blood pressure, and potentially reduce the risk of stroke. Furthermore, enjoying up to 224 ml (nearly eight fluid ounces) of fruit juice daily “does not increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or poor glycemic control,” the entry continues.
According to a 2021 review in the magazine nutrients100 percent fruit juice (FJ) “appears to offer more benefits than risks and there appears to be no justification for discouraging FJ in a balanced diet for children and adults.”
In short, while smoothies and whole fruits and vegetables are more gut-friendly, juices can definitely be a valuable component of a well-rounded, healthy diet.
What ingredients are good for a gut-healthy juice recipe?
Again, Dr. Brown isn’t giving up on fruit juices entirely. In fact, he below offers his own gut-friendly juice recipe, which he says can aid digestion, regularity, and increased well-being for him.
Here are the five fruits that (ahem) made the cut and why:
- blueberries. “They are a good source of vitamins C, E, and K and minerals like manganese,” says Dr. Brown.
- Kiwis. The gastro says that kiwis have a natural enzyme that aids digestion. In addition, the tropical fruit is rich in vitamin C and potassium.
- oranges Oranges are famous for their vitamin C content. Dr. Brown adds that they are also a good source of folate, which helps support the heart and immune system.
- Pineapple. “Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain, which can aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and may have anti-cancer properties,” shares Dr. Brown. FYI: Bromelain is also beneficial for constipation and may help relieve inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Grenades. “Pomegranates are packed with polyphenols like ellagitannins and anthocyanins, which are known to have anti-inflammatory effects,” he continues.
Dr. Brown’s Five-Ingredient Gut-Healthy Juice Recipe
Makes 2 servings
1 cup of fresh blueberries
2 ripe kiwis, peeled
2 medium oranges, peeled
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled and cored
1 medium pomegranate
- Prepare all your fruits by rinsing, peeling, cutting and/or chopping them. For the pomegranate, cut it in half and remove the arils (juicy seeds).
- Juice the softest fruits first, starting with the oranges, then the kiwis and blueberries. Dr. Brown says pineapple should go next, as it can help remove anything stubborn in your juicer from the first three fruits. Finish by squeezing the toughest pomegranate arils.
- Stir well to combine. Pour neat or over ice, or chill in the refrigerator.