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1670 ROUTE 34 N. 3R FLOOR SUITE 3C WALL • NJ 07727

Eat Your Veggies Everyday, but Beware the Silent Danger of Juicing, Smoothies and Shakes

Over the weekend, I walked into a widely recognized national health food store when I saw a long line at a counter. I thought to myself, “What are they giving away, free granola bars?” Well, it was close enough. These customers were waiting in a line practically out the door to place an order at the Juice Bar and Smoothie Counter. These health conscious individuals are unfortunately misled to believe that that these highly hyped drinks are just what they need to cure all of their ailments and promote their health and well being. The hype includes such phrases as “Good Tasting and Nutritious” or “When you drink juice, highly concentrated vitamins and enzymes rapidly enter your body giving you all the necessary nutrients your body needs!” The truth is that these faddish products do taste great because they are filled with fruit sugar (fructose) and they are loaded with nutrients. The problem is dumping all those minerals and vitamins into your system all at once can actually be harmful. By the way, there is nothing natural about juicing. People did not put their fruits and veggies in a blender and drink them a thousand years ago (or even 100 years ago).

Why do so Many People believe that Juicing and Smoothies are so Healthy?

Maybe this misunderstanding originates with the Food Pyramid. This USDA approved guide (originally developed to help increase profits in the agricultural industry) recommends that you need to consume 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit a day. Bear in mind that this is the same group advising you to eat at least 300 grams of carbohydrates every day (the equivalent of 17 slices of bread!) Unfortunately, this has led many people to take a shortcut in fulfilling the USDA recommendations by drinking juice chock full of blended fruits and vegetables all at once. Unfortunately, these drinks are a prime example of hype and promise, not matching the benefits. You must understand that every time you consume a beverage highly loaded with sugar (even if this beverage contains vitamins and minerals), your blood sugar rises. This elevated blood sugar prompts your body in stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to attempt to lower your blood sugar by releasing insulin into your blood stream. To make matters worse many of these juiced drinks contain very high levels of potassium that also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), causing a “double whammy” of PNS activation. This PNS overload can cause a vast array of symptoms including stomach cramps, headaches, watery eyes, runny nose, sleepiness and low blood sugar. Your body requires a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals. However, if you are dumping too much into your system too rapidly you can throw your metabolic balance into chaos. Too make matters worse, over time, you may start to distort your body chemistry to the point that you feel terrible and increase your juicing habits. This unhealthy practice is a vicious cycle that can lead to dire complications to your health.

What are you cleansing?

“Cleansing toxins” has become somewhat of a fad of late, no doubt the result of much hype and unscientific notions. The term “toxins” has been catapulted into daily conversations and many people are under the misguided impression that you must “cleanse” your organs to eliminate toxic substances from your body. The truth is that your body has two wonderful organs that are designed to eliminate metabolic and environmental toxins from your body, your liver and your kidneys. It is true that some people may be affected by toxins circulating within their body that do require specific detoxification methods. Mycotoxins, for example, are a poisonous group of chemicals produced by fungi and mold in the environment. These mold toxins in your body get into your tissues and your liver will attempt to remove them by concentrating these mycotoxins in your bile. However, your bile is recycled through a process known as your enterohepatic circulation and the mycotoxins are unfortunately recycled as well.  The only way to remove these mycotoxins is with a bile resin binder, like bentonite clay, activated charcoal (or pharmaceutical drugs like Welchol or Questran). Juicing fruits and vegetables will not pull Mycotoxins from your body and I highly doubt your local health food store is going to include bentonite clay in your next smoothie.

Heavy Metals are Toxic

Another type of relatively common toxin that requires specific detoxing agents are heavy metals If you have heavy metal toxicity, such as mercury or lead, you need a chelating agent. While it is true that some vitamins (like vitamin C) have some chelating properties, if you are truly being poisoned by heavy metals, then you should consult with a doctor familiar with chelation techniques and have these substances measured and eradicated.

Food Additives are Toxic

Pesticides, insecticides, artificial colorings, artificial flavorings and preservatives are no doubt very harmful and are best eliminated from your diet. This is one of the benefits of eating organically grown food. By the way, is the juice and smoothie that you bought from your local health food store organic? Fortunately, your liver and kidneys are designed to eliminate toxic materials from your body (as long as the toxic load is not overwhelming these detoxifying organs)

The Dangers of  “Boosting your Immune System” with Wellness Drinks

On the menu of this Juice and Smoothie Bar, I happened to notice the ingredients for their Immunity and Wellness drinks. The advertisement promised the drink would boost your immune system and promote your overall wellness. How do you know you want to boost your immune system? Which part of your immune system is this drink supposed to boost? The notion that your immune system is suppressed and needs a boost is a misconception. Drinks like this are like Russian roulette because you have no idea what you are going to get in terms of helping your body.

Your Immune System has two Major Parts

There are different parts of your immune system: a part that creates antibodies called humoral immunity and another part known as cellular immunity. The cellular immunity part of your immune system directly attacks invading organisms and kills these offending agents without the creation of antibodies. Specialized cells known as macrophages orchestrate the attack on invaders by secreting chemicals known as cytokines. These cytokines then cause an inflammatory response, which “burns up” the invading organisms (viruses, parasites and fungi). However, excessive cellular immunity can lead to what is known as “autoimmune” diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Conversely, lack of cellular immunity can lead to various infections and even cancer.
Humoral immunity, on the other hand, utilizes antibodies to attack the invading offenders in various ways. However, excessive antibody activity can lead to allergy symptoms and inflammation, whereas diminished humoral immunity leads to a weakened immune system and infections. Creating too many antibodies can cause autoimmune effects and damage. Many of these “immune boosting” products really do affect your immune system in powerful ways. However, drinking one of these immunity or wellness drinks can actually cause an over activation (or suppression) of either cellular or humoral immunity. Consequently, what you thought would promote your health and nutrition can, in reality, backfire and hurt more than help.

The Ingredients and its Effects

On the Juice Bar menu, the ingredients list will proclaim that Lemon is important for cleansing, or Ginger is key in reducing asthma symptoms. Did you know Tumeric reduces inflammation? Try a dash in you drink today! Lets isolate these ingredients and examine their effects: A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, Volume 128, Issue 2, pages 380–384, September 1999, concludes that turmeric can suppress your cellular immunity, yet it enhances your humoral immunity. Therefore, if you suffer from allergies, tumeric could theoretically make your allergies and asthma worse. As outlined in International Immunopharmacology Volume 24, Issue 2, February 2015, Pages 383–391, Zerumbone (a specific compound in ginger) increases cellular immunity and decreases humoral immunity in mice. Therefore, theoretically, ginger could be beneficial for you if you have allergies or asthma (or cancer) but harmful if you suffer from an “autoimmune disease” like rheumatoid arthritis. Adding even more confusion and complexity is the fact that there are many, many immunologically active compounds in ginger, each with their own unique effects.

Herbal Remedies are Powerful (and can heal or harm)

Additionally consider the following; what part of the world was the ginger grown in? What farming measures were used to grow the ginger? Which strain of ginger is used in your drink? Any of these factors can affect ginger’s properties and in turn affect your response when introducing it to your body. I am not suggesting that ginger is dangerous, however, I am suggesting that before you trust your health to some concoction from a health food store, you should know what you are doing. Better yet, trust your health to a health care professional (or healer) that has the training and experience to administer these powerful natural herbal medicines.

One Person’s Food is Another Person’s Poison

The bottom line is that there are wonderful properties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that truly may truly help an ailment that you suffer from. However, you must realize that one person’s food is another person’s poison. Just because you know someone who took an herb and it helped their problems, does not mean that this same herb will help your problems.  I recommend that you to skip the smoothies and juices and instead concentrate on eating a variety of healthy, unprocessed (preferably organic) foods.  If you think that these “quick fix” cleansing and immunity drinks are healthy, sustainable, or will “jump start” your long-term health objectives, you are in for a rude awakening. Come in for a consultation and together we can truly address any concerns you are having regarding your health. We can devise a metabolically directed eating (and supplement plan) specific to your unique body chemistry. 

Only by addressing these underlying imbalances can you achieve long-term health and wellness. Dr. Rothman suggests that you make an appointment to address your health and wellness concerns. Contact Dr. Rothman (732) 268-7663, a New Jersey based medical doctor for a consultation and a review of your health and get on the road to natural wellness.

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To learn more about Michael Rothman MD contact us today by giving us a call at (732) 268-7663, emailing us at [email protected] or by requesting an appointment online.

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