At the next panel ("Juicing: Facts & Fiction") I found myself seated next to an excommunicated juicer, the luminous Paige Gregor of LuliTonix
, a smoothie company — or rather a blending company, to differentiate it from such establishments as Smoothie King. My first thought: For skin like hers, I'll have whatever she's having
. What Gregor is having is lots and lots of blended greens. "I’ll always still have green juices as well," she told me, "because that’s immediate nutrients to every part of your body. But, smoothies are a slower release of that."
The word "smoothie" connotes a sugar-bomb that is almost entirely fruit, maybe with yogurt or even ice cream added. But Gregor's smoothies are low on fruit, with ingredients similar to anything you'd find in fresh-pressed juice, only blended — which is why she often calls them "blends" instead. "We have one blend that’s all greens," she told me, "with a quarter of a fig in the whole thing." Gregor and I murmured back and forth about smoothies as the juicing experts onstage debated whether one could live indefinitely on juice (JuicePress
's Marcus Antebi insisted that one could, while Dr. Richard Ash
, MD, returned "errr, not so much"). LuliTonix smoothies, Gregor explained, are "a prepackaged meal — by blending, you’re cracking open all of the enzymes and breaking open that cellular wall to get the nutrients to your body without having to chew 50 times. We’re all lazy, we’ve forgotten how to chew."
While there's no evidence that blending's enzyme-cracking is any more effective than good old-fashioned mastication and digestion, smoothies — like juice — deliver a quick hit of nutrients. Unlike juice, they preserve fiber content, meaning greater satiety. (When it comes to habitually replacing entire meals with smoothies, though, tread carefully, and listen to your body: Dietitians hold
that a filling, complete meal includes carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and both smoothies and juices can be light on the latter two.) Juicers claim that the heat generated by whirring blender blades can degrade nutrients, but there's no evidence that this heat is high enough to make smoothies significantly less nutritious than juices. Blending devotees, meanwhile, point out that because fiber slows the absorption of starches and sugars
, smoothies lead to less dramatic blood-sugar spikes than juices and so provide longer-lasting, more even-keeled energy. If you're looking for fullness, a smoothie may be the way to go; if you'd simply like a boost in between or with meals, go for a juice (keeping in mind that the chewing process contributes to satiety
, and mainlining liquids can lead to consuming more than you'd like).
In a nutshell, smoothies outsource chewing, while juices outsource digestion. Sure, you could sit around and thoroughly chew five green salads — or you could drink a smoothie or juice. At the end of the day, they're both vegetable vehicles. If you aren't consuming enough vegetables (you're not alone, the average American consumes only 59% of her daily recommended vegetables
), drinking them is an easy way to increase intake, as well as to replace other not-so-good choices. JuicePress's Antebi shared that "his guru" had described the benefit of juicing as "putting the focus on what we need out
of our diet." Whether or not you're impressed by guru wisdom, it's not hard to agree that consuming something green instead of a doughnut in the morning will lead to a better day. As Dr. Ash put it, "You’re really a function of what you eat, assimilated and absorbed." There
was a statement I could get behind. Also, the sweet-potato juice I was drinking was really, really good.
That night, I admitted to my partner that I was thinking about buying a blender. "Oh no!" he cried, mock-dramatically, "they got you too!" Maybe "they" did. Fueled by produce and coffee (rather than my usual coffee and sugary energy bar), I'd actually felt pretty good that day. I'm not planning on undergoing a juice cleanse anytime soon — there's no evidence
that the "glow" cleansers feel is from their all-juice regimens rather than from simply replacing pizza with produce — but I could definitely get down with a juice or smoothie thrown into my daily mix. As long as my cup can also runneth over with coffee and Kahlua when the moment's right, there's room in it for kale.