The difference between eating (chewing) fruits and veggies and turning them into liquid via the Vitamix is Increased Absorption (aka bioavailability). When you Vitamix, you increase the number of nutrients that are available for absorption without increasing the volume of food eaten.
Plant cell walls are made of cellulose and we (humans) don’t produce cellulase (the enzyme that digests cellulose).
So, for example, when you eat an apple with your mouth, your teeth – if you chew really well, which most people don’t do – you “might” pop 25% of the plant cell walls, spilling out the digestible insides of a plant cell (aka the “juice”). Our bodies can absorb that “juice,” while the popped cell walls (like deflated balloons) and 75% of unpopped cell walls (like little nutrient-filled balloons) leave our body. The popped cell walls (insoluble fiber) work like “scrubbies” in our intestinal tract, and the unpopped cells just take their precious cargo out the back door with the nutrients still inside!!!
When you eat raw fruits and veggies with your mouth, you are potentially losing up to 75% of the nutrients that “could” have been released for absorption if the plant cell walls had been “popped”. Our teeth aren’t very good plant cell wall “poppers.”
A Vitamix is very good at popping all of the cell walls open which (for all practical purposes) releases ALL of the available nutrients for increased absorption (aka bioavailability).
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not advocating ONLY blending your food. Chewing does three things: 1) helps maintain bone density which helps your teeth, 2) signals to your brain that food is coming to your stomach, and 3) mixes saliva that contains amylase (digests starches) with your food to do a little bit of “pre-digestion”. CHEWING YOUR SMOOTHIES is a very good habit to get into. I “chew” my smoothies, and swish them around in my mouth until they have warmed to the temperature of my body before I swallow.
Chewing, Blending and Juicing ALL have their place. This article highlights the different benefits of each, it is not promoting one over the other. I think all 3 ways of eating are important, and the “juicing vs Vitamixing” debate is fruitless (get it – fruitless) 😉
The information below
pertains to “blending vs. juicing”…
A juicer will pop all of the cell walls, but then you separate the juice (nutrients) from the popped cell walls, discard the popped cell walls, and then you drink the juice.
Here are two concerns to keep in mind about Juicing:
1) As I mentioned earlier, the popped cell walls (aka cellulose aka insoluble fiber) act as “scrubbies” in our intestinal tract (think of them as gut-brooms). If they are removed, no sweeping takes place! Sweeping helps eliminate toxins.
2) The insoluble fiber (aka popped cell walls, aka cellulose) slows but does NOT prevent the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This is very important for health, and a whole ‘nuther topic, but trust me when I say, that ideally, we would prevent rather than encourage the insulin spikes that follow high sugar meals. When you are consuming the juice that comes from high sugar foods like carrots, beets, apples, etc. it is VERY beneficial to have the popped cell walls floating around mixed in with the juice to slow the absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream. Most diabetics can attest that their blood sugar rises more slowly (or not at all) when they consume a “whole food smoothie” as opposed to consuming juice. So in summary, it is better to leave the popped cell walls (aka insoluble fiber, aka cellulose) in the drink, rather than separate it.
3) The insoluble fiber feeds the good bacteria in our gut microbiome. From this article, ““The big problem with the Western diet,” Stephen O’Keefe said, “is that it doesn’t feed the gut, only the upper G I. All the food has been processed to be readily absorbed, leaving nothing for the lower G I. But it turns out that one of the keys to health is fermentation in the large intestine.” And the key to feeding the fermentation in the large intestine is giving it lots of plants with their various types of fiber…“
If you eat an apple you might absorb 25% of the nutrients trapped inside of the apple cell walls, but if you Vitamixed that apple, practically 100% of the nutrients would be available to be absorbed!
If you “juice” an apple, nothing prevents the sugar from being absorbed very quickly. This spikes an insulin response. If you make a “Whole Fruit Juice” in the Vitamix, the fiber is mixed in with the juice, slows down the absorption, and moderates the insulin response.
In the picture above the green inside the circles represents nutrients that are trapped inside of a plant cell wall, and they leave our body without any of the nutrients being absorbed. The green in the background represents nutrients that have been released from the plant cell walls, these nutrients are available for absorption. With a Whole Food Juice (aka Smoothie) the popped cell walls (aka fiber, aka cellulose) are included in the drink and slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. With the Juice, the plant cell walls (aka fiber, aka cellulose) are removed, and the sugars in the juice are quickly released into the bloodstream which causes a bigger insulin response. It takes more produce to make a glass of juice, to make up for the fiber that is removed.
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3 thoughts on “Chewing vs Vitamix Blending vs Juicing – What’s the Difference?”
Lea Ann, I’m genuinely intrigued by your article.
I’ve been following a whole foods plant based regime for some time now and am always facinated to learn more.
I’m curious though, which sources point to this theory of blending / juicing / chewing releasing the cell “goodies”?
Would you have by chance read that in any one book or are the sources available online?
Glad you like the article! It isn’t a theory – it is just facts of biochemistry. Google, “what are plant cells made of”, then Google, “can humans digest cellulose”.
Juicing extracts the nutrients inside of a plant cell wall (the juice) from the ruptured plant cell walls (the fiber).
Rupturing the plant cell walls is what our teeth, the gears of a juicer, or the blades of a Vitamix does. Each one does it in a different way, with a different end result.
Lea Ann, you repeated, verbatim, Patrick Quillen’s “The Healing Power of Whole Foods”. That book is pretty much my “food Bible” when it comes to learning about which foods have what nutrition.