I was recently asked to write an article on juicing for a lifestyle magazine, and it made me think about the women I see in my practice, who are either pregnant, or trying to get pregnant; and how hard it can be for them to meet the intake requirements for fruits and vegetable each day.
Fruits and vegetables, are a vital part of our diet, but if you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant are you getting enough?
Could juicing be the better way to go to meet the intake requirements?
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG)(1) recommends a minimum number of serves of fruit and vegetables each day, for different ages and sexes, to ensure good nutrition and health, and reduce the risk of lifestyle disease including heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.
Women who are either pregnant or trying to conceive, should be having 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serve of fruit each day.
What is a serve? One serve of fruit is 150 grams and one serve of vegetables is 75 grams.
In 2020-21(2), less than 50% of women were meeting the requirement of 2 or more serves of fruit each day and only 13% were eating 5 or more serves of vegetables each day, meaning the ‘typical’ diet Australian women are eating is not meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) requirement for fruits and vegetables.
Why are fruit and vegetables so important? The answer is quite simple, fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, mineral, antioxidants, which are a requirement for the normal functioning of our bodies; as well as great gut loving fibres that help us to have a healthy gut microbiome. All of these are vital for you and your growing baby.
Whole fruits and vegetables contain natural fruit sugars, vitamins, minerals, as well as fibre of pulp and depending on the type of juice machine, many will retain the liquid, sugars, vitamins, and minerals, but leave the pulp behind. This defeats one of the main purposes of having whole fruit as the pulp or fibre does two important things, the first thing is that fibre fills you up, providing bulk in your stomach which keeps you fuller for longer and secondly fibre is also needed for a healthy gut microbiome.
If you are considering juicing as a way to meet your intake requirements, look at a machine that crushes the whole fruits and vegetables and does not discard the pulp and fibre.
An average serve of fruit contains approximately 5-15 grams of sugars, and the average 250ml glass of store brought juice contains around 20-25 grams of sugar, this means that a 250ml glass of juice can contain anywhere from 25% to 75% more sugar, compared to if you were to just eat the whole fruit. The difference in fibre can be 2-5 grams for a serve of fruit and 0-2 grams for a glass of juice.
Therefore, comparing a serve of fruit to a glass of juice, the whole fruit can have up to 5 times more fibre and around 50% less sugar than a glass of juice equivalent. Adding vegetables to your juice can be a good way to reduce the sugar content, but you can still lose the fibre if the pulp is discarded in the juicing process.
If you were to eat 2 apples, it would take you around 10-15 minutes to eat both, and you would probably feel quite full after it whereas if you were to juice those 2 apples and the drink the juice of the 2 apples, you would still have around the same energy intake, but you could drink the juice in 1-2 minutes, and it would not keep you full for very long, as the juice contains very little pulp or fibre. This may mean that you feel hungry soon after and could lead to unnecessary snacking. During pregnancy it’s important to put on healthy weight as part of the babies growth, but putting on unnecessary kilos during pregnancy is not helpful.
As a dietitian, I encourage people to fill up their lunch and dinner plates with vegetables and salads to fill them up, and snacks on fruits between meals if peckish. However, if you do this but are still unable to meet your daily requirements of fruits and vegetables, then having the extra fruits and vegetables as a juice may be beneficial for you. If you do choose to juice, then remember to use a juicer that gives you the whole fruit and vegetables back as juice and does not discard the pulp and if you have any questions around juicing or your fruit and vegetable intake, I’m happy to help.
Written by Rachel Jeffery, Accredited Dietitian
(1) National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), ‘Australian Dietary Guidelines’, https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines
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