Orange Or Orange Juice?

Orange Or Orange Juice? Here's The Right Choice

Satyendra Garg thought fruit juice was a better option compared to the whole fruit, until he did some research.

Satyendra Garg | Nov 25, 2020

For the last few years my job has required me to travel extensively and frequently. This had necessitated very frequent travels and stay in hotels.The serving staff mostly are very helpful and take good care of you. As breakfast is part of hotel stay charges, I found the serving staff mostly being indulgent on your eating well. At the start of the breakfast, they offer you drinks like tea, coffee, milk or fruit juice.

Having heard for a long time that fruits are good for health and wellbeing, I always preferred fruit and fruit juices. This used to mostly result in taking more than one glass of fruit juice as there is a large variety of fruit juices available. Ideally, I used to think that fruit juice is always better than tea, coffee or even milk.

This has completely changed after I learnt that eating a fruit is always better than having fruit juice and there are very solid reasons to justify it. In nature, the sweetest thing is fructose which comes in fruits like mango, orange, apple, sugarcane, pineapple and many more. For thousands of years, the sweet things were confined to fruits and honey and it used to be in very limited quantities confined to the seasons of their growth. The result was very limited consumption of fructose all over the world till about 100 years ago when per capita consumption of fructose was about 5 pounds per person per year.

Things changed mostly in the 20th century when there was a large increase in sugar plantations and making of sugar. In the 1960s came the advent of High Fructose Corn Syrup, HFCS. This increased the fructose consumption to about 100 pounds in the USA by the end of the 20th century and resulted in massive increase in obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer and diseases of heart, liver and pancreas.

India is the largest producer of sugar in the world and has large production of fruits. As a consequence, consumption of fructose has increased in a
big way. It is observed, when one eats a fruit it is accompanied by its fiber, be it in apple, orange, pineapple or any other fruit. It is as if nature has provided for the antidote of fructose by attaching it to fiber. Eating fruit is always limited as chewing takes time and digestion is delayed because of the accompanying fiber. With the advent of juice extraction two things have happened. The fiber which accompanies fruit consumption is removed and fruit juice being liquid and tasty, one can have a large amount of fruit juice. It has been seen that while one can have one or two oranges at a time, in the form of juice, one can easily take orange juice made of 5-6 oranges. Same is the case as regards other fruits.

With a better understanding of nutrition I have concluded that taking large quantities of fruit juice is harmful for us. There are mainly three reasons for that: one, when fruit is eaten, absorption of fructose in it is gradual as fiber slows its journey to the liver. Second, a more important reason is that consumption of fruits is always less in comparison to juice. Thirdly, in liquid form, the fructose reaches the liver almost immediately and swarms it. As is known, fructose can only be metabolised by the liver and no other part of the human body can use fructose, large quantities of fructose makes the work of the liver extremely difficult. As the quantity of fructose in the form of fruit juice is very large and beyond the capacity of the liver to handle it, the excess fructose is converted into fat and results in non-alcoholic fatty liver, NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, accumulation of visceral fat, diabetes, obesity and diseases of liver, pancreas and heart..

As on date, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the biggest epidemic in the world, having affected more than 31 percent of the adult American population and 13 percent of their children. Similar is the case in other countries. India too has a very large number of people affected by NAFLD, diabetes, obesity and diseases of heart, liver and pancreas.

Ever since this realisation of harmful effects of large quantities of fruit juice and having been diagnosed with Fatty liver Grade II in February, 2019 I have stopped taking fruit juice and always prefer eating fruit itself in small quantities. I have largely stopped consumption of sugar and things made from sugar. It is gratifying that these restrictions have resulted in reversing fatty liver disease to Grade I within less than a year.

It is suggested that all those who are overweight or have been diagnosed with NAFLD or diabetes must avoid fruit juices and should prefer a limited quantity of fruits and should substantially, if not completely, cut down sugar consumption.

(The author is an IPS Officer of 1987 batch)