When is a juicer not a juicer? When it doesn’t make juice seems a good answer to me.

There are several machines that call themselves juicers yet they are really blenders. Many of their salespersons call them juicers and some of their infomercials do too. I asked one at a demo if the machine was a juicer and he said it was in front of a small crowd of people. Later on he also said it was “better than most juicers” because it left the pulp in. Left the pulp in? Isn’t the whole purpose of a juicer to separate pulp from juice? If the two are not separated, how can it be juice?

A juicer is a machine that produces juice-the liquid part of a fruit or vegetable. It does this by separating the two parts in various ways but the liquid part of the produce (juice) always comes out one spigot while the solid part (fiber) exits a different outlet.

A blender is a machine that blends together the different ingredients put into it.  It is the opposite of a juicer which separates.

Let’s take the example of a carrot. Carrots are high in sugar. When you eat a raw carrot the chewing is good for the muscles of your jaw. The chewing also slows down how fast you can eat the carrot so that the sugar in it reaches the stomach over a longer period and so is absorbed slower thereby blunting blood sugar release. The fiber in the carrot enters the stomach in relatively large pieces and that also slows sugar release and absorption. It also makes the stomach feel full, decreasing hunger so you eat less. Finally you have the benefits of the fiber itself.

When you drink carrot juice you are getting most of the nutrients contained in a whole pound of raw carrots in just a single glass of juice. Most people would have a hard time eating a whole pound of carrots. It also fills the stomach less so you can drink your juice along with a meal that contains several more servings of vegetables. On its own the sugar found in carrot juice increases blood sugar quickly. This is why it should always be consumed along with a meal. Plus the antioxidant pigments found in carrots–the carotenoids–need fat to be best absorbed, another important reason to drink carrot juice with meals.

Blend a pound of carrots and the result is a few glasses of carrot sludge that is difficult to swallow, unappetizing and that doesn’t exercise your jaw muscles. Because the carrot fibers are ground so small they give up their sugar quickly, almost as quickly as juice which can spike blood sugar levels. But you can’t drink as much blended carrot as you can carrot juice because of all the fiber so the nutrients you get are limited too nor can you drink blended carrot with a meal without greatly cutting back on other foods. In fact, drinking carrot sludge has all the drawbacks of juice with none of the benefits.

While all this annoys me what annoys me even more is how they are selling their own machines short. A superblender like the VitaMix does not need to call itself or even compare itself to a juicer. It is an excellent machine in its own right and great to have in addition to a juicer. In fact, like a juicer, a powerful blender is an integral part of the well-equipped kitchen.

Moral of this story is to make sure you know what a juicer is before you go shopping for one and know how to tell a juicer from a blender.


The “F” Word

This month Sláinte is going to indulge in some plain talk and use the “F” word. If this bothers you, read elsewhere. Still here? Good because we are going to discuss something that bothers a lot of women and a growing number of men. That  “F” word so many people-doctors included-are afraid to say for fear of offending: fat.

Do your thighs jiggle like Jell-O that has escaped from its mold? Do your upper arms flap? Ever been mistaken for pregnant? Overweight and obese are just polite terms for the real thing. Fat. “Fatties” outnumber “skinnies” 2 to 1 in the US right now. Are you fat? Are you a fattie?

Many of us have already suspected that fat is not the inert substance doctors told us it was. It seemed to be too responsive to our actions for that to be true and we were right. Fat does has an

Beer or baby?

agenda and that is to keep you as fat as possible despite all your efforts. Fat is good because only the fatties will survive the coming famine. Naturally thin women think fat takes orders from the thinking part of the brain. Using self-control you can impose your will on those recalcitrant fat cells and tell them what to do. But fat people know better. Fat cells answer to the primitive brain deep in our skull. It equates weight loss with famine and death so it unleashes the most powerful weapon known in the universe: hunger. Hunger almost always trumps self-control.

I know what you are thinking. If in this war on fat when the blockade on calories no longer works, then maybe we should consider a surgical strike to take out the offenders. Something like we did with Bin Laden. Something called liposuction. Be honest, haven’t you thought about liposuction? Take a nap and wake up with a flat tummy. It’s almost too good to be true but it’s a surgical procedure. It’s not like some quacky potion that claims to get rid of fat, you see all the fat they suck out of those cellulite riddled thighs.

Alas, to everyone’s amazement, it looks like liposuction was too good to be true. In a study published this month in the journal Obesity, University of Colorado researchers found that liposuction does not remove fat, it just puts it someplace else. In their study, fat was suctioned from the lower abdomen or thighs and it later reappeared in the upper body in the arms and upper abdomen. Of course, it wasn’t the same fat cells sneaking back (although Sláinte wouldn’t put it past them) but an average of 3 pounds of fat was removed in this study and an equal amount was gained back in the upper body within a year.

Moral of the story: don’t try to fool Mother Nature. Or a Fat Cell.

While researchers look for ways to counteract the “fat is good” messages being sent to and from the brain, what can you do now? You have only to look on a science news website to see all the ways you can incur the wrath of the Fat Cell and gain more weight. You would go crazy trying to control them all. So, own who you are. Be fat and love your body. Accept it and accept the fact that being fat is going to put your at greater risk for some disorders. Accept also that there are some things under your control like what kinds of foods you eat or how much you exercise. Being fat is not an excuse to eat anything you want. But being fat does necessarily means unhealthy just like being skinny does not necessarily mean healthy. Health is more than body shape. It’s linked to the kinds of foods you eat, the kind and amount of exercise you get, and other lifestyle factors like stress control, how much deep sleep you get, and of course, if you use tobacco.

The best advice is the simplest. Most of your diet should be real food,  that holds true no matter what your shape. Fats should be vegetable fats especially nut oils, canola oil and olive oil. Avoid fake food and fried food as much as you can; real food does not come in boxes and your body knows that even if you don’t. If you must have them (and sometimes we must), put it off until you have eaten all the recommended servings  of fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains for the day. Then you can eat one serving. The problem with fried foods is twofold: the fat makes them very high in calories and the high temperature used to deep fry changes the nature of the oil so it is likely to damage your arteries.

Sláinte strongly suggests you learn the nature of your hunger beast. What feeds it? Pay attention to the kinds of stimuli that makes you feel hunger. Sláinte might not be hungry at all but then she sees a Red Lobster commercial and she wants butter drenched sea food. Do the odors of food make you hungry? The sight of food? The time of day? Make a list of what feeds your hunger and brainstorm ways to avoid them. For example, if the sight and smell of chocolate makes you crave chocolate, don’t put chocolate-scented chocolate-shaped magnets on your bulletin board or fridge where you see them all the time.

Finally, being fat is one thing and being morbidly obese is another. Don’ t let yourself cross over from fat and overweight to obese.