Why Juice is Garbage. Long Live the Gut Microbiome! | by Emery Caster | Dec, 2023

Emery: “Hi good morning! What did you have for breakfast today?”

Patient: “I wanted something healthy but light so I had one of those ‘Green Machine’ smoothies and some toast.”

Emery: “I’m sorry, which part of that was healthy?”

Patient: “The Green smoothie! It has all sorts of vitamins in it, and it is fruit and vegetables!”

Emery: “Let’s talk about this a bit more…”

Juice is garbage.

Photo by Zlatko Đurić on Unsplash

One of the most common current “healthy habits” is drinking juice, whether that is the classic OJ, a “juice cleanse,” or smoothies.

Juice is all the addictive, yummy parts of fruit in one convenient glass. You get to jump past the labor of chewing the fruit to get to the sugar, how nice is that!

“But Emery, juice has lots of vitamins in it. That makes it healthy!”

Let us look at some facts and see how healthy it is.

The American Heart Association, our largest investor in cardiovascular disease research, recommends no more than 24 grams of sugar per day for most women and 36 grams for most men.

Compare those numbers with an 10oz bottle of apple juice from the renowned company Welch’s:

Calories: 130

Total Sugars: 33g

Includes 0g added sugars

Fiber: 0g

Protein 0g

Calcium 30mg

Iron 0.8mg

Potassium 370mg

Vitamin C 90mg


At first you may be thinking “See Emery! There is so much Vitamin C in juice! That makes it healthy” I’m sorry, but nope.

The vitamin C content in this juice, and in many juices, is added in as Ascorbic Acid. Ascorbic acid is a cheaply manufactured, synthetic version of Vitamin C that is derived from Genetically Modified Corn. There was a long battle to convince the public and the medical world that Ascorbic Acid is synonymous with naturally occurring Vitamin C. That debate is not the purpose of this article.

My point is that the above juice would contain zero vitamin C unless it was added in artificially in order to make the product seem healthier.

So what we are left with is a bottle of sugar that is well above the daily recommended limit for total sugar.

You might as well throw 2.5 tablespoons of sugar straight into your mouth and save yourself the time it takes to drink the whole bottle of juice!

Because juice is a very high sugar-containing food, it plays havoc with your blood sugar.

In nature, the sugar in fruit is buffered by the fiber of the fruit. By removing the fiber during juicing, you are left with a straight shot of sugar which causes a huge blood sugar spike and crash.

Over time, frequent and ongoing blood sugar spiking can lead to diabetes, with the issues that comes with that: neuropathy, loss of eyesight, heart, and kidney problems.

Put your chompers to work and eat the apple instead!

Nutrition facts of one medium sized apple:

Calories: 104

Sugars: 20.8g

Fiber: 4.8g

Carbohydrates: 27.6g

Protein: 0.5g

Potassium: 214mg

Vitamin C: 9.2mg

Vitamin A: 6mcg


Here we can see that by eating the whole apple, we can slow that huge blood sugar spike with the 5 grams of fiber that is already built in!

Granted, fruit is still a very sugary food, but if we are going to eat sugar, it is better for us to eat the natural stuff.

The fiber that comes with fruit feeds the bacteria in our gut microbiome so that our digestion is improved. The microbiome is incredibly complex and yet, incredibly simple.

If you think of what “microbiome” means (a very small, living environment), we can figure out what it means to us.

A very small, living environment…like a garden!

What does it take to grow a successful garden?

· You need to know the sunlight, water, and soil requirements of the plants.

· You need to be on the look-out for bugs or weeds that want to take over the garden.

· You need to be consistent with caring for the plants.

All too often we treat our bodies like a machine, we put in whatever edible thing we can find and hope that it keeps the engine running. When we drink juice instead of eating fruit, we are choosing to feed the sugar hungry bacteria in our gut and ignoring the healthy, vitamin producing bacteria that needs fiber to thrive.

Health is a moving target that is far easier to catch when we treat our bodies with the same gentle care that we give our plant gardens. Next time you are itching for a glass of orange juice, stop and ask yourself “What am I trying to grow in my microbiome? The weeds or the healthful plants?”

Nerd Corner:

Check out this super cool study on the Gut-Brain Axis, its all about how our microbiome affects our entire physiology!

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