According to board-certified gastroenterologist Kenneth Brown, MD, it’s possible… but not necessarily his number-one method to sip his way to a thriving gut microbiome. Ahead, get the *squeeze* about juicing for gut health. Plus: the gastro’s very own five-ingredient juice recipe of choice.
What does the science say about drinking juice for gut health?
Dr. Brown notes that juicing can be a convenient way to boost your intake of fruits and veggies—especially for those who don’t typically pack their fridge with loads of produce. That said, he cites a few reasons why juices typically come up short for gut health and your diet at large.
To start, juicing strips the bulk of fiber from produce items. Per a 2021 study from the American Society for Nutrition, a mere 9 percent of women and 5 percent of men get enough fiber on a daily basis. (For reference, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that women should aim for 25 grams of fiber daily, whereas men should get 38 grams.) “Fiber helps with digestion and feeding your gut’s healthy bacteria,” says Dr. Brown. He also mentions its importance for blood sugar balance and maintaining a healthy heart.
Retaining the fiber content, in fruit especially, also reduces the impact sugar will have on your system. “Juices made from 100 percent fruit are often high in sugar,” Dr. Brown says. “Without the fiber to slow digestion, these sugars are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, leading to blood sugar spikes.” Moreover, he adds that juicing can lead to a loss of certain vitamins and beneficial polyphenols. And whether you’re juicing at home or buying a fresh-pressed blend, these drinks can end up being costly. “Juicing requires more fruits and vegetables to make a single serving of juice than simply eating or blending the fruit or vegetable,” Dr. Brown continues. Unless you repurpose the scraps and pulp, it’s not the most budget-friendly or sustainable way to load up on nutrients.
“Juicing requires more fruits and vegetables to make a single serving of juice than simply eating or blending the fruit or vegetable,” Dr. Brown continues. Unless you repurpose the scraps and pulp, it’s not the most budget-friendly or sustainable way to load up on nutrients.
These points considered, he advises eating (or drinking) produce in its most complete form whenever possible. “It’s healthier to eat whole fruits or vegetables—or consume them in a form that retains their natural fiber, like smoothies—instead of relying on juice alone,” Dr. Brown says. (Hot tip: You can always add more liquid to your smoothies to maintain a juice-like consistency while keeping good-for-your-gut fiber intact.)
But all of this certainly doesn’t mean that you should avoid juicing at all costs. Per a 2021 review in the journal Nutrients, 100-percent fruit juice (FJ) “appears to offer more benefit than risk and there appears to be no justification for discouraging FJ within a balanced diet for children and adults.” While these benefits are less specific to gut health, a healthy diet with moderate intakes of fruit juice can support vascular function, reduce blood pressure, and potentially reduce the risk of stroke. Moreover, enjoying up to 224 mL (nearly eight fluid ounces) of fruit juice daily “does not increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or poor glycaemic control,” the entry continues.
Per a 2021 review in the journal Nutrients, 100-percent fruit juice (FJ) “appears to offer more benefit than risk and there appears to be no justification for discouraging FJ within a balanced diet for children and adults.”
In short, while smoothies and whole fruits and veggies are more ideal for your gut, juices can definitely be a worthy component of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
What ingredients are good for a gut-healthy juice recipe?
Again, Dr. Brown doesn’t swear off fruit juice completely. In fact, he offers his own gut-friendly juice recipe below, which he says can support digestion, regularity, and your greater well-being.
Here are the five fruits that (ahem) made the cut and why:
- Blueberries. “They are a good source of vitamins C, E, and K and minerals like manganese,” says Dr. Brown.
- Kiwis. The gastro says that kiwis have a natural enzyme that aids digestion. Moreover, the tropical fruit is rich in vitamin C and potassium.
- Oranges. Oranges are famed for their vitamin C content. Dr. Brown adds that they’re also a good source of folate, both of which help support the heart and immune system.
- Pineapple. “Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain, which can aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and may have anticancer properties,” Dr. Brown shares. FYI: Bromelain is also beneficial for constipation and may help alleviate inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Pomegranates. “Pomegranates are packed with polyphenols like ellagitannins anthocyanins, known to have anti-inflammatory effects,” he continues.
Dr. Brown’s five-ingredient gut healthy juice recipe
Yields 2 servings
1 cup of fresh blueberries
2 ripe kiwis, peeled
2 medium oranges, peeled
1/2 of a medium pineapple, peeled and cored
1 medium pomegranate
- Prep all your fruits by rinsing, peeling, cutting, and/or chopping. For the pomegranate, cut it in half and remove the arils (juicy seeds).
- Juice the softest fruits first, beginning with the oranges, then kiwis and blueberries. Dr. Brown says that pineapple should go next as it can help push through anything lingering in your juicer from the first three fruits. Finish up by juicing the tougher pomegranate arils.
- Stir well to combine. Pour on its own or over ice, or let it chill in the refrigerator.