February 2, 2021
You see it everywhere nowadays: cold-pressed juice. Once something only to be found in boutique health stores for $10-15 a pop, all sorts of varieties of cold-pressed juices are making their way into grocery stores, gas stations, and pretty much anywhere beverages are sold. But, what is cold-pressed juice exactly, and—more importantly—is this stuff actually good for you, especially if you're someone trying to be cognizant of blood sugar control, total fructose intake, etc.?
To begin to answer that, let’s break down what a “cold-pressed juice” actually is. It’s quite a simple, yet powerful process.
See, any vegetable, fruit, or herb is made of two foundational building blocks: liquid (juice) and solid (pulp). Depending on the type of produce being used for juicing, the juice could contain anywhere from 70-95% juice and 30-5% pulp. Typical cold-pressed juicing practices take 1-2 pounds of produce and squeeze it in a cold, temperature-controlled process to separate the juice from the pulp. (Cold temperature is important because other types of juicers generate appreciable amounts of heat, which destroys enzymes and oxidizes nutrients, one of the reasons why, since way back in the day, I've been adding ice and lemon to my smoothies, a process I describe in this article.)
Anyways, the result of this cold-pressed process is a highly concentrated and potent plant beverage with a combination of a large variety of vegetables and herbs such as dandelion greens, cucumber, dino kale, celery, ginger, turmeric, lemon, mint, basil, or anything you want really—all in one drink. This high density of produce creates a jolt of essential nutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which many claim can deliver a near-instant boost of physical energy and mental vitality (though I've sometimes wondered if that's because they're simply replacing their Coke or diet soda with something arguably quite a bit more metabolically favorable).
So…instead of eating pounds of produce, you can simply drink a large and delicious dose of your greens—the equivalent of roughly five large plates of vegetables and herbs—in a second. Salads and veggie smoothies are still foundational, but if you live a busy life, juicing can be a reliable way to cover the gaps in your daily essential micronutrients. By the way, a quick tip before we even jump into the meat (probably a poor metaphor) or today's article: the fact that you're sucking all these nutrients down at once instead of chewing dictates that the appetite satiation effect tends to be a bit low. This is why I usually “chase” my juice with a shot of liquid ketone esters or about 10g of essential amino acids. But perhaps that also because I am a voracious exerciser with a high metabolism and a tendency to eat everything in sight when I'm around food.
OK, so juicing sounds great, right?
Not so fast. There are a few drawbacks when it comes to juicing that are worth mentioning, and in today's article, you'll discover the five big problems with juicing along with everything you need to know about juicing. From harvesting to pressing, you'll learn how soil degradation affects the quality of juice, seven criteria for ensuring your juice is actually healthy, whether it's possible to consume juice on a low-carb or keto diet, and much more.
5 Big Problems with Juicing
Despite the growing popularity of juicing, in my experience most “in the know” health enthusiasts simply aren't buying into this whole fad, and if you're a savvy health food consumer, my guess is that you might be in the same boat—whether it's because of the hefty price tag, or the sugar content of most juices, especially the fruit forward ones, being akin to a can of Coke.
So, before I go into the seven criteria I look for in juice, let's dive more into some of these issues so you know what to look out for when shopping for, or making your own juice.
1. Most Juices Are Loaded with Sugar
Most juices promise to boost your health, but the reality is that they’re not doing much for you other than spiking your insulin, which causes a drop in energy and mental stamina—not to mention a whole host of other negative effects including frequent urination, increased thirst, blurred vision, headaches, and more. Nearly all juices you can find in the grocery store or a juice shop have the same primary base ingredient, sugar. No, they're not dumping added sugar into the juice, but when the primary ingredient in most juices is either apples or pineapples (which are composed of nearly 75% sugar) they may as well be. Juice companies do this to deliver a sweet flavor that appeals to the masses. Even juices that use beets or carrots often supplement these roots with apple or pineapple to make the flavor taste more sweet.
But isn't “natural sugar” OK to consume?
I won't go too into the weeds on this because I already have in the article “5 Simple Steps You Can Take To Live Longer, Banish Blood Sugar Swings & Massively Enhance Energy Levels.” Essentially, what research actually shows is that there isn't anything particularly toxic about one sugar vs. another, but the problem actually lies in the overconsumption of sugar. One study on high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found that “Sucrose, HFCS, invert sugar, and many fruits and juices deliver the same sugars in the same ratios to the same tissues within the same time frame to the same metabolic pathways. Thus…it makes essentially no metabolic difference which one is used.”
So, even though it's “natural sugar” from fruit, a whopping 40-60 g of sugar any way you slice isn't going to do you any favors in avoiding type 2 diabetes or the countless other chronic diseases and weight issues directly related to high blood sugar, especially if you're wandering around with liver and muscle glycogen levels that are already full, which defines the majority of people sucking down 300 calories worth of concentrated pears and apples and bananas while on a Zoom call seated at their desk.
2. Good Juice Is Expensive
I'm sure you're no stranger to the astronomical cost of high-quality, organic, cold-pressed juices. While visiting Kion headquarters in Boulder, CO, I've seen juices ranging from $10-15 a bottle at various boutique-type juice bars. If you were to drink one of these every day to supplement your greens, it would be a whopping $300-450 per month!
But let's say you have $450 a month burning a hole in your pocket, there's still the problem of excess sugar. Just for fun, I just now Googled “healthy cold-pressed green juice,” and the top results (I won't name names) primary ingredient was apple juice, with a whopping 22 g of sugar per 12 oz bottle.
You might think, as I did, “I'll just buy a home juicer, get the produce from the grocery store, and juice at home to save money.” But when you do the math and add up the cost of buying a good juicer and all of the produce, making organic juice at home ends up costing $8-15 per serving—not much cheaper than a juice shop, with a whole lot of added time, effort, and cleanup (which brings me to my next point).
3. Home Juicing Is A Pain & Causes Food Waste
At first glance, making juices at home seems like a viable solution, but in practice, it is a costly and labor-intensive effort. Buying a high-quality juicer will set you back anywhere between $200-400. So, let’s say you buy one of these fancy juicers, go to the store, buy heaps of produce, and start juicing. You’re overwhelmed with optimism about your new hobby and this delicious first juice you’ve created, but your excitement quickly fades as you look back at the mess you’ve created in your kitchen and the subsequent cleanup involved. Anyone who's ever juiced at home knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Now, after spending a half-hour cleaning your juicer and the huge mess surrounding it, you’re left with a pile of pulp that is most likely going to be thrown away. You can think of this pulp as cold hard cash being tossed directly in your trash or compost pile. Additionally, every bit of food you discard—no matter how minuscule it may seem—is also contributing to America’s growing problem of food waste.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted, which impacts food security, resource conservation, and contributes to the 18% of total U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills can help ease the impact of climate change and also put food in the mouths of millions of people.”
4. Non-Organic Juices Can Be Loaded With Toxic Pesticides
Organic, as defined by the EPA, is food that is grown and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Remember, you are not what you eat, but “what you eat ate.” In this case, plants feed on microorganisms in the soil, and if those microorganisms are contaminated with pesticides, the consequences to your health can be as serious as hypertension, diabetes, strokes, autism, kidney failure, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and cancer.
There are over 11,000 cancer patients who are currently suing chemical companies for not having sound science, administering safety testing, and ultimately exposing them to carcinogenic produce. When you use non-organic ingredients, you are at risk for GMOs, artificial preservatives, synthetic fertilizers, toxic pesticides, and ignore the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.
Let’s look at the jarring example with glyphosate, a herbicide applied to the leaves of plants to kill off weeds and grasses. Glyphosate was used on America’s #1 most cultivated crop, field corn. Monsanto, the company that administered this herbicide to their corn, was forced to pay $2 billion to a couple who got cancer after eating enough of their produce. I've only scratched the surface on the problems with glyphosate. To learn more, listen to my podcast with Zach Bush, “Why You Can’t Get Away From The Toxin Glyphosate (& What You Can Do About It).”
So, to summarize: eat organic.
With that said, I understand organic produce isn't accessible for all, and even if you try to eat 100% organic, there's still no escaping these harmful pesticides (especially if you like to eat out at restaurants). For example, even though we grow most of our own food in our garden, most of the meat we eat is from animals I've hunted myself, and we get our eggs from chickens in our backyard, our water is sourced from a well and we live downstream from a bunch of farmer's fields. So, before any meal that we even suspect might be laced with pesticides and herbicides, my kids, my wife, and I all toss back a shot of ION* Gut Health, which strengthens the gut barrier and guards against environmental toxins.
5. Juices Expire After 2 days
So, after an hour or more of shopping, preparing, juicing, and cleaning, you’re left with an expensive glass of juice that has a lifespan of fewer than three days. Even if you buy fresh juice from a juice bar, it typically needs to be consumed immediately for maximal benefits. This means, in order to make juicing a truly healthy habit (and not just one in which you throw your money away on nutrient-void juice), you will have to make or buy juice 4-5 times per week (i.e. spend hours every week on juicing at home or driving to the local juice shop) in order to ensure freshness.
This is because, due to oxidation, the micronutrients in the juices rapidly degrade, and within two days your juice becomes risky to drink because of spoilage. To see a simple experiment explaining how oxidation works (and how to prevent it), check out my article “How To Biohack Your Green Smoothie (And Can High Speed Blenders Really Damage Your Food?).”
If you insist on juicing (or blending) at home, two key takeaways from the article are:
- Keep the temperature as low as possible by using a cold-press juicer, or if you're blending by adding ice.
- Add in a squeeze of lemon, orange, or lime, which all have high ascorbic acid content and low pH.
Taking these two simple steps will significantly slow down the oxidation that occurs when juicing or blending fruits and vegetables.
Soil Degradation and Nutrient Deficiency
Now, let’s talk about soil for a minute and how it directly impacts your daily health. Soil is not dirt, it is the living skin of the earth. Soil directly fuels the plants you consume with key micronutrients. There's just one problem, and that is that our soil is being depleted of its nutrients at an alarming rate.
According to the documentary Living Soil, “Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years.“
According to Zach Bush (the previous podcast guest of mine I referenced earlier who also happens to be a renowned physician specializing in internal medicine), “…in 1945 Americans grew 45% of their food in their backyard gardens. Now we grow 0.1% of our food in our backyards. We created this era of chemical mega-farms that has led to the destruction of our soils, water systems, oceans, and human health. By the same reality, we can transform this planet into the most verdant and regenerative ecosystem that has been in many millennia.”
The more tilling (turning over and then breaking up the soil) that is done, the weaker the soil gets, and the more farmers feel compelled to use chemical sprays. This is the vicious cycle of industrial agriculture. This cycle was initiated during World War 2 when a German scientist named Fritz Harber (AKA the father of chemical warfare) invented a process for making synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. (His other scientific breakthrough was the creation of poisons known as pesticides.) Harber used his pesticides as the first chemical weapons in history, then he developed the poisons used in the gas chambers of the holocaust.
When the war ended, US chemical companies brought Harber’s poisons back to America and rebranded them as pesticides to be used on American farms. Farmers at the time could use Harber's nitrogen fertilizer sprays on their crops, and—even if they hadn’t taken care of their crops and soil—could still get a good yield, at least for a short while.
In other words, instead of understanding and honoring ancestral farming practices in tune with mother nature, farmers could now just throw out these chemicals and still get a harvest. And, the more chemicals they use, the more chemicals the farm needs.
So, because of soil quality depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the vegetables, herbs, and fruits today. For example, it takes eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparent’s generation would have gotten from one orange. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, over 2 billion globally people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, 740 million people are deficient in iodine, and nearly 30% of the planet suffers from a form of malnutrition.
See, when farms are incentivized and pressured to optimize for pest resistance, size of the harvest, and higher growth rates, the collateral damage is a sacrifice in nutritional value. The most striking research is a landmark study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition by a team of researchers led by Donald Davis at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits and found a “reliable decline” in several key micronutrients, enzymes and including the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past 50 years. They suggested that changes in nutrition may result in differences between cultivars in their ability to extract soil minerals, transport them within the plant, and synthesize proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients. Another study of nutrient data from 1930 to 1980 published in the British Food Journal found that in 20 vegetables, the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent.
This makes eating organic all the more important, because if you’re eating traditional produce, you’re getting far fewer nutrients than you would have 50 years ago.
7 Criteria For Healthy Juice
So, if most cold-pressed juices are too expensive to drink every day, loaded with sugar or non-organic produce, or involve a pain-in-the-rear process of prepping, juicing, and cleaning, what are your options if you want to take advantage of all of the health benefits of a quick, powerful shot of essential micronutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants in one easy-to-drink juice?
In order for me to drink any kind of juice on a regular basis, or recommend it to my clients, friends, family, or audience, it would have to fulfill the following seven criteria:
- Organic (Ideally, produce from family farms).
- Great-tasting (I can stomach less-than-stellar taste for the sake of health, but I know flavor is a huge factor for most people.)
- Affordable (One juice every couple of weeks or month isn't really going to move the dial in terms of health. So, if that's all you can afford, what's the point?)
- Keto-friendly & Low-carb (That leading green juice I mentioned earlier with 22 g of sugar? It also contains 28 g carbohydrate with just 1 g fiber—half your carbohydrate intake for the day if you're on a low-carb or keto diet.)
- Plenty Of Veggies & Herbs (Celery juice is great for detoxing your liver, but for overall health and to get a wide array of vitamins and minerals, variety is key.)
- Includes Functional Foods (Such as matcha for energy or lion’s mane for a calm focus.)
- No Food Waste (I.e. pulp in your home juicer going in the trash.)
Just as I'm approached regularly by folks asking me to promote their latest supplement or exercise or recovery device (by the way, I will never promote any product or device I haven't rigorously tested myself and found to be efficacious), I've also been propositioned to try out so many “healthy” juices that I've lost count at this point.
After saying no to the onslaught of juicing companies who've approached me in the past, I finally found one that fits my 7 criteria for a juice I'd be willing to drink myself and recommend to my family, clients, friends, and audience. It’s called Farmers Juice, and my wife, twin boys, and I have been loving their monthly cold-pressed juice box we've been getting delivered
Their juices and shots are delicious, cost half the price of a juice shop, and contain 1-1.5 pounds of produce PER bottle. Their team achieves these lower prices by working directly with family farms, cutting out the middlemen, and using non-aesthetic produce that doesn’t reach grocery store shelves, which ironically contains more micronutrients.
You might be saying to yourself, “Hey $5.99 per juice! Sure… that’s half the price of a high-end juice bar, but that’s still expensive!” Consider this: Farmer's market organic produce typically costs $10 per pound, while Farmers Juice offers 1-1.5 pounds of diverse organic produce from family farms juiced in a highly potent drink for $5.99. Speaking of farmer's markets, all of their ingredients are also sourced from organic family farms in California.
Partnering with family farms and using their organic ingredients that avoid pesticides seems like a no-brainer, but most juice companies prioritize their profit margin and use non-organic produce, which is obviously cheaper. Instead of using pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, the family farms use good old-fashioned seaweed along with compostable and natural ingredients to feed and nourish their soil. Here’s another fun fact about Farmers Juice that really impressed me: The quality of water that the family farms give to their soil is the same quality of water they give to their children.
Some of these family farms have been stewards of their land for over 100 years. Here’s their checklist to make sure the ingredients used in a Farmers Juice organic, cold-pressed juice or shot are about as clean as they come:
- There are absolutely no GMOs.
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- No synthetic fertilizers.
- No toxic persistent pesticides.
- Enhances soil fertility.
- Protects wildlife and promotes biodiversity.
What about spoilage?
Each Farmer's Juice and shot remain fresh for 30 days by using a process called high-pressure processing (HPP) and no artificial preservatives. Here's how HPP works: On the day when the juices and shots are freshly prepared, they go into a machine as big as the size of a yellow school bus. Once in the HPP machine, the juice is put into a container surrounded by cold water and high pressure (the equivalent of putting the juice at the bottom of the ocean). This extreme pressure creates a physical and chemical reaction that kills off harmful bacteria and keeps the nutritional values intact for 30 days.
Finally, regarding food waste, AT Farmers Juice, the pulp is repurposed as cattle feed instead of being thrown away. For the cows, this is a premium source of nutrition and it makes their milk and butter all the more nutritious! Farmers Juice also uses 100% recycled plastic (instead of single-use plastic), reusable ice packs, and recycled materials.
Farmers Juice also has the world’s first line of keto cold-pressed juices and wellness shots that have 9-11 g of carbohydrates and 4 g of sugar per bottle. Their keto juices include vegetables and herbs such as dino kale, dandelion greens, cucumber, celery, mint, lemon, line, ginger, turmeric, and lemon.
Each juice, in addition to having 1-1.5 pounds of concentrated organic plant nutrition, has a special functional kick added to it that includes adaptogens, antioxidants, mushrooms, and ayurvedic roots.
For example, listed below is the Farmers Juice Keto Greens Only Box:
- Focus Greens: Matcha + Cucumber, Dino Kale, Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, Basil, Extra Mint
- Performance Greens: Lion's Mane + Cucumber, Chard, Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, Basil, Mint
- Digestive Greens: Apple Cider Vinegar + Cucumber, Dino Kale, Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, Basil, Mint
- Athletic Greens: Maca root + Cucumber, Celery, Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, Basil, Mint
- Peaceful Greens: Ashwagandha + Cucumber, Dino Kale, Lemon, Ginger, Turmeric, Basil, Mint
Farmers Juice also offers non-keto options that feature carrot, beet, orange + ginger blend, and more. While these blends are slightly higher in sugar, it's still far below what you'll see in comparable juice blends.
When the founder of Farmers Juice initially approached me, I first thought, here’s another juice company selling glorified insulin spikes. As I got to know the company more and my family and I began drinking their juices daily, I quickly turned from skeptic to believer.
After working with their founder and testing their products rigorously, I am thrilled to share I am not only a happy customer, but also an advisor to Farmers Juice.
Cold-pressed juicing is a fantastic way to get your daily recommended intake of phytonutrients and micronutrients. Drinking 1-1.5 pounds of organic produce will boost your physical energy and mental performance, support your gut health, and simply make you feel healthier overall.
But, as you just learned, not all juices are created equally. To recap:
- Most juices are expensive, averaging anywhere from $10-15 a bottle for high-quality, organic, cold-pressed juice.
- Even so-called “healthy juices” are notoriously high in sugar and carbohydrates.
- If you happen to find an affordable, low-sugar juice, chances are it's not going to be organic and instead chock full of pesticides and herbicides and devoid of nutrients.
- Juicing at home is time-consuming and messy and requires you to repeat the process every other day or so. Trust me on this one, you don't want to wind up with a $300 juicer that does nothing more than collect dust on your countertop. Not to mention, it's wasteful and can be just as expensive as buying fancy juices from your local juice bar.
Farmers Juice is affordable, low in sugar, organic, super convenient, keto-friendly, stays fresh for 30 days, oh, and I think I forgot to mentions, tastes incredibly delicious. You can check out Farmers Juice here, and use code BEN to save $5.
P.S. My wife and I are going to be starting a 5-day juice fast with Farmers Juice, and I will be posting our ketone, CGM, sleep, HRV, and pre- and post-fast bloodwork data on my blog mid to late February. I am also closely working with the founder of Farmers Juice, Junaid Kalmadi (who will be appearing on my podcast this Thursday, February 4th) to develop 5, 3, and 1-day fasting protocols using Farmers Juice. This will be released to a beta group initially, so if you are interested, sign up for the Farmers Juice Newsletter Here (scroll to the bottom of the page) or text “Ben” to 81493.
If I left any questions about juicing unanswered, please leave them below, and I'll respond! I'd also love to hear how juicing has worked for you and what results you've noticed from drinking it.