Americans these days are making healthier diet choices. They’re eating more fruits and veggies, and consuming less carbonated soft drinks and high-calorie fruit drinks.
That combination of healthier eating habits has increased the number of people consuming their vitamins and minerals by juicing or blending their fruits and vegetables as part of their daily diets.
For cancer patients, including those diagnosed with mesothelioma, the pros and cons of juicing and blending are important to consider, especially when some of these patients experience difficulty eating whole fruits and vegetables after treatment.
Other symptoms of the disease include weight loss, weakness, and a change in taste or appetite. Because nutrition is an essential part of cancer care, eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce these side effects.
Juicing or blending may be a way for people experiencing these side effects to easily incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet, but first, cancer patients should learn about their specific diet needs and know the differences between juicing and blending before introducing it into their routine.
What Is Juicing?
Juicing is the process of extracting juice from fruits and vegetables by separating the juice from the pulp.
There are various tools for accomplishing this, from a cone used to hand-press the juices out of various fruits to a more sophisticated appliance called a juicer. Modern juicers are electronically powered and can take minutes to create a liquid juice from just about any type of fruit or vegetable.
There are three different methods of juicing:
- Masticating (also referred to as cold pressed): A single, motorized gear crushes fruits and vegetables much like the motion of chewing food with your mouth.
- Centrifugal: An efficient fast-spinning grinding blade speeds production.
- Triturating: Similar process to masticating, but uses two motorized gears.
Pros and Cons of Juicing
If you have a hard time incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, juicing may be the solution. It allows for easy consumption and requires the body to work less to obtain the nutrients, which allows for quicker calorie intake and easy digestion.
Unlike juice from fresh-pressed fruits and vegetables, packaged juices found in the supermarket contain an exorbitant amount of sugar and are highly processed.
However, the American Cancer Society reports “there is no convincing scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than whole foods.” In some cases, it may be the opposite.
Although juices extracted from a juicer contain the vitamins and minerals found in whole foods, they are missing the fiber found in the skins and peels. Juicing only provides the liquid, while discarding the fiber-rich pulp created by the skins and peels.
Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and can help relieve lower abdominal pain and constipation, which are early symptoms of mesothelioma and also common side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
Many nutritional experts warn against supplementing juicing for whole foods because of the deficiency in fiber content.
“Juicing should not be used to meet basic nutrition needs as it significantly reduces the amount of fiber you get from a vegetable or fruit. This is true for people who are feeling well, are able to chew and digest their food normally, and aren’t losing weight without trying,” Suzanne Dixon, a registered dietitian, said in an article for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
However, it is also possible for your doctor to recommend a low-fiber diet to help combat other early symptoms of this asbestos-related disease, such as diarrhea or cramping. In this case, juicing can be a great way to get the other nutrients from fruits and vegetables while minimizing your fiber intake.
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What Is Blending?
Blending is the process of pulverizing whole fruits and vegetables in one container with blades that spin at high speeds. The result is a pulp-filled smoothie.
Smoothies are a great way to add protein and calories to your diet, as well as fiber, especially if you are having trouble eating a well-balanced diet.
You can use a blender to keep the fiber from the peels and skins of most fruits and vegetables. To blend vegetables, you may have to use a high-performance blender, but fruit smoothies can be made from common household blenders.
Pros and Cons of Blending
The main benefit of blending a smoothie is that you get all the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables without compromising your fiber intake.
Fruits and vegetables in blended smoothies also provide cancer patients with a much-needed immune support from phytochemicals, which include vital antioxidants and Vitamin A, C and E. Phytochemicals may be slightly minimized during juicing because the discarded pulp may contain essential phytochemicals.
Blending fruits and vegetables mainly alters their texture and appearance. Changes in nutritional value usually are minimal. You can also store smoothies longer than juices without losing much of their nutritional value.
There are some interesting studies on the effects of juicing and blending certain fruits.
For example, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed blackberries lost 70 to 82 percent of their antioxidants when the seeds were removed in the juicing process.
Another study published in the Journal of Science and Food in 2012 found that consuming grapefruit juice processed by blending may provide higher levels of beneficial phytochemicals compared to juicing the citrus.
When you drink a smoothie, it is essentially eating your fruits and vegetables whole, but in a much easier and faster way. However, it takes more effort to absorb the nutrients in smoothies when compared to juicing.
Because smoothies include fiber, enzymes must work their way through the tougher pulp to extract nutrients. Juices lack fiber and are easier to absorb.
Also, remember that not all smoothies are healthy. Many of the smoothies found at smoothie shops contain added sugars and other unnecessary ingredients. Be sure to ask what’s in the smoothie if you need one on the go. It’s always best to make your own smoothies at home.
Something else to keep in mind: Air combined with the pulp during the blending process may cause bloating or increased gas in some people.
Is Juicing or Blending Right for You?
If you’re currently receiving cancer treatment, having trouble swallowing food or difficulty incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, juicing and blending may be a great way for your body to absorb some valuable nutrients.
While juicing allows for easy and quick absorption of nutrients, blending allows for easy fiber consumption. Depending on what your body needs, you may benefit from one method over the other.
A registered dietitian (RD) can help minimize symptoms and side effects of different types of cancers through nutritional therapy. For instance, they may alter your fiber intake to combat digestive distress or recommend bland, soft foods if you experience mouth sores caused by radiation.
RDs can also help structure your juices and smoothies around cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables.
Make sure to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about what is the best way for you to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet.