Juice fast programs are quickly growing in popularity, so it is no surprise that cleanses are popping up on grocery store shelves nationwide. The extended shelf life of these grocery store juices is made possible by a new juicing pasteurization technique called High Pressure Processing (HPP).
Traditional pasteurization is a relatively new technique designed to kill bacteria and microorganisms in order to prevent food-borne illness. It became popular in the US in the 20th century, around the same time that urbanization, processed foods and mass food production became the norm.
Until recently, pasteurization used heat, which decreased nutritional content. This made it unsuitable for juicing programs - after all, getting those nutrients is the whole point of embarking on a juice cleanse. With the new technique of HPP, however, bacteria are eliminated without altering nutritional content (for the most part).
HPP functions by applying high pressure to liquids. "During HPP, foods are subjected to pressures up to 100,000 psi. which destroy pathogenic microorganisms by interrupting their cellular functions," according to High Pressure Dynamics, Inc. (a producer of HPP equipment).
So what's the catch? Well, since it's still a pretty new technology, there isn't a ton of research on HPP processing or its potential side effects. But some studies show that when HPP kills the harmful bacteria in juice, it also deactivates beneficial bacteria and enzymes.
Unpasteurized, unprocessed, raw fruit juices (derived from a cold-pressing process) are a rich source of live enzymes. And these phytonutrients offer a plethora of health benefits, from aiding digestion and reducing inflammation to sinusitis relief and wound healing. In other words, they're a crucial component of any detox program - or healthy food.
So what's the bottom line on this new juicing technology? Well, on the one hand, nutrient-rich juices can now be made available in places that might otherwise not have access to them. That's a great thing! And HPP seems like an improvement over traditional pasteurization in that it preserves more nutrients.
On the other hand, it's still a form of processing and pasteurization. If HPP kills bacteria by interrupting cellular processes, it's doubtful that all of the juice's holistic benefits can remain intact. There haven't been enough credible scientific studies to unequivocally prove otherwise - that's one of the risks of using new technology.
As a nutritionist, I tend to err on the side of caution. Better safe now than sorry later. So when I refer my clients to a juice fast program, I point them towards a cold-pressed local option whenever possible.
-Emily Wade Adams, Natal Nutrition