The Relationship between Fruit Juice and Health essay

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In America, 1 out of 6 children is obese or at a risk of becoming obese (Ogden & Carroll, 2006). In practice, overweight children are likely to become obese in their adult lives. The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended juices for consumption when in need of substituting whole fruits. For example, 100% fruit juice is highly nutritious as well as beneficial to healthy living. However, the US Department of Agriculture found that a bigger percentage of the population consumed less than fifty percent of the recommended levels.

The Juice Products Association supported the juice industry in endorsing the Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations regarding the maximum daily consumption of 100% fruit juice among children. The AAP advised that children between the age of one and six should consume four to six ounces of natural juice, and 12 ounces are for those between the age of 7 and 18.

During the transition time from liquid to solid foods, 100% fruit juice is among the top three sources of carbohydrates (Skinner, Ziegler & Ponza, 2004). Approximately, one out of five infants consumes fruit juice before they turn six months old (Briefel, Reidy, Karwe et al., 2004). The consumption of 100% fresh juice and fruit-flavored drinks could contribute to generating excess energy. In such an event, there is a possibility of displacing nutrient-dense foods in the diets of children. This realization supports the position that the role of fruit juice in becoming overweight is controversial.

Consuming sugary juices or other drinks is closely related to the emergence of health concerns. The concerns include type 2 diabetes, obesity, low nutrient levels, and dental caries (James, Thomas, Cavan & Kerr, 2004). Various experimental researches have supported a causal connection between sugared juices and the above conditions. Most soft drinks including fruit juices are preserved using various chemicals which also pose a health hazard. For instance, the use of sodium benzoate has been linked to hyperactivity and DNA damage (James et al., 2004). Other substances in fruit juices have negative effects, although their small percentages reduce their negative effects to consumers.

Conducting a meta-analysis of eighty-eight studies confirmed that the consumption of fruit juices corresponds with a decline in the intake of milk, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, proteins, and calcium among other micronutrients (Heaney & Rafferty, 2001). Since micronutrients such as phosphorous and calcium are important in bone formation, their deficiency undermines the normal development of the human body. Moreover, the creation of an imbalance between calcium and phosphate would herald a degeneration of bone mass (Heaney & Rafferty, 2001).

Historical Background

The production of juice from fruits is an ancient practice. When ripening, a bigger percentage of fruits soften to a level where their transportation or handling becomes complicated. Thus, transforming them into juice becomes a plausible way to store or consume them. Early hunters and gatherers easily consumed fruit juices or collected juicy fruits and stored them in containers for future use. However, the storage period was limited. A lengthy storage was possible in cold temperatures.

Using the trial and error method, people learned that they could extract juices from various fruits (Brock, Berry, Mock et al., 1988). At the same time, people learned to distinguish between nutritious and toxic fruits. Through the art of tool making, it was possible to manufacture tools that were used to macerate fruits paving the way for extraction of juices. Similarly, containers to store juices were designed and developed using local resources. Most notably, the tools were made from plant fiber, clay, wood, and animal skin.

The perishable characteristic of fruit juices was instrumental in consumption of juices (Ghanim, Sia, Upadhyay et al., 2010). In warm climates, fruits had to be consumed within twenty-four hours of production. Some alternative options for preservation included chilling or freezing. In ancient times, it was found that the consumption of juice had some mysterious effects. It also emerged that fruits that were stored for longer periods slowly turned acidic or developed different tastes. Later, the domestication of grapes facilitated the use of vinegar as a preservative.

With the growth and development of agriculture, it became increasingly possible to cultivate fruit trees. Hence, there was a reliable supply of fruits guaranteeing the continued production of fruit juice. From early on, fruits intended for juicing were kept until the moment of juicing (Kurowska, Spence, Jordan et al., 2000). This ancient practice continues to date.

With time, the nature of life has changed. During the early times, pure fruit was used. However, as life became more sedentary leading to the settlement of people, cultivation was possible. Further developments resulting in the emergence of industrialized societies witnessed changes in lifestyles. People became more willing to consume manufactured products, since it was cheaper to buy than to produce (Franke, Cooney, Henning & Custer, 2005). As time went by, manufacturers who were intent on making big profits began reducing the pure juice content. Typically, they began replacing the pure fruit syrup with other chemicals.

However, health concerns rising from the consumption of chemically produced fruit juices have attracted much attention, since this coincided with the rise in unhealthy conditions among consumers (Uzcudun, Retolaza, Fernández et al., 2004). Although there are several aspects associated with the consumption of chemically processed juices, obesity, heart diseases, and bone diseases rank highly (AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 2001). This has contributed to a reversal of trends as the preference for 100% fruit juice gains dominance.

The main component of fruit juice is water. The water is derived from intracellular fluid of fruits. This water is important in metabolic processes as well as the preservation of cell turgor. The level of water varies depending on the fruit type. Another important substance is the nonaqueous portion which has several unidentified compounds such as natural sugars, sugar polymers, and so on (AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 2001). These components are also useful to the body.

Apart from avocado, olive, oil palm fruit, ackee, other fruits have very low lipid content (Hollis, Houchins & Blumberg, 2009). In most cases, the content is less than five percent. The presence of low levels of lipids explains why fruit juice has a low caloric effect in diets (O'Neil, Nicklas & Kleinman, 2010). This also explains why consumers of fruit juice are less likely to embrace fat diets.

Phytochemicals are a group of compounds found in functional foods. Also known as nutraceuticals, phytochemicals are significant in preventing or delaying the emergence of chronic diseases (O'Neil, Nicklas & Kleinman, 2010). In other words, this substance is critical as it has benefits that extend beyond the traditional nutrients found in food.

Fruit Juice Environment

Safety is an aspect that must be considered in all industries. Lapses in the preparation of drinks have serious repercussions (Andrea, Sanigorski, Colin & Boyd, 2006). Specifically, consumers are likely to suffer from possible lapses. Companies could also suffer greatly in the event that poor/defective products get to the market. In most industrialized countries, lapses in the preparation of any type of food are heavily punished.

The combination of food ingredients, raw fruit, and juice preparation methods allow the producers an opportunity to alter both the value and price of the products (Myles, Dennison, Edmunds & Stratton, 2006). Another tempting aspect involved in the industry is the ease with which players can alter juices, which is an aspect that raises ethical concerns. However, advancements in technology, especially in analytical chemistry, allow experts to detect issues bordering on adulteration.

Unethical practices in the production of juice pose an array of dangers (AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 2001). For instance, using poisonous ingredients in the preparation of juices has been detected. However, this aspect is becoming under advanced control as countries move to monitor the production process of juices. This highlights the idea that deception is an issue that affects the fruit juice industry. Fresh, unpasteurized juices pose another concern which is pathogenic microorganisms’ contamination. 

Quality concerns are some of the aspects that have featured prominently in the production and distribution of fruit juice (AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 2001). Although products could be safe, they might also be fraudulent. For instance, selling a product with misleading labels such as having labels stating that a product is pure fruit juice while it is not true might arise. In a bid to limit such practices, the development of regulations is preferred. As such, regulations cover aspects of processing, percentages of fruit content, soluble solids, added substances, and acid levels.

In addition, the regulators could advise on flavors, consistency, color, and absence of deviations from standards (Dai, Borenstein, Wu et al., 2006). In regard to matters of large volume processing of fruit juice, specific standards are set for both users and suppliers. For instance, the Florida Department of Citrus is the state’s controlling agency. It sets the standards which industry operators must observe.

Juice manufacturing has attracted much attention in industrialized nations. The fact that juice is also consumed across the world implies that international trade regulations apply to the juice trade. The focus is on regulating the production process of juice. Thus, from the point of producing the raw materials, cultivation and marketing are subject to regulatory control. Although some regulations are seen as burdensome or unwarranted, they are of help to the industry in regard to the extent to which they can ensure consumer safety (Dai, Borenstein & Wu et al., 2006).

The primary need to focus on safety is based on ensuring that the ingredients used, processing, and packaging are in harmony with health expectations (Dai, Borenstein, Wu et al., 2006). Safety is a critical aspect in any business. This is because the manufacturing process is subject to health hazards which if not detected and corrected early enough, could adversely affect many consumers. In the history of juice production, there have been cases when chemical contaminants have been blended into consumable juices and distributed across wide regions. Undoubtedly, mistakes in the production process have severe implications.

There is also a need to prevent economic fraud in regulating the production and distribution of fruit juices. Economic fraud is possible when producers use inauthentic ingredients and misleading labels (AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 2001). Although the human health is not compromised in such cases, the act of cheating consumers occurs. Moreover, manipulative producers hold an upper hand in comparison to genuine producers. If not discovered early and removed from the markets, they are likely to reap false benefits.

100% Fruit Juice

The alarming statistics regarding the consumption of sweetened drinks have played a key role in influencing lifestyle choices that people are making. Specifically, society is now embracing a healthier lifestyle than it did some time back. This follows the realization that fresh fruit juice offers a better alternative to sweetened drinks (Feldman, 2001). It has been confirmed that 100% natural juice is more nutritious as it is nutrient-dense. The nutrients include vitamin C, potassium, and folate among other natural plant compounds which promote healthy living.

Scientific evidence indicates that the nutritional benefits associated with the consumption of fresh juice are immense. Overall, studies reflect that the consumption of fresh juices has an association with good health. Specifically, high intake of fresh juice is associated with a lower consumption of saturated fats, dietary fats, and added sugars (Nicklas, O'Neil & Kleinman, 2010; Nicklas, O'Neil & Kleinman, 2008). The main explanation for the state of affairs is that fresh juice has no added sugars. Research evidence shows that the absence of added sugars reduces the chances of becoming overweight. As established, there is no relationship between the consumption of fresh juice and obesity or weight gain (O'Neil et al., 2008; Pereira & Fulgoni, 2011).

Both the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics noted that fresh juice was by far more nutritious as well as beneficial to human health. As the 2010 Dietary Guidelines indicated, 100% fruit juice accompanied with low fat milk offered a nutrient dense beverage which has a significant amount of nutrients alongside containing minimal calories. However, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines underscored the need to consume various foods moderately in order to obtain maximum health benefits.

The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics suggested that serving four to six ounces of fresh juice to children a day among children between the ages of 1 and 6 and twelve ounces to those aged between seven and eighteen could be helpful. Furthermore, the consumption of fruit juice has been closely associated with a positive influence on both diet and nutrition. Focusing on the data by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) of 2003-06, adolescents and children who consumed fresh juice enjoyed a more nutritious diet in comparison to non-fruit juice consumers (O'Neil et al., 2012). The primary reason was that fruit juice consumers had higher intake of significant nutrients such as magnesium, folate, calcium, phosphate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

Another research has positively established a link between fresh juice consumption and healthy living. Just as the other study indicated, those people who consumed fresh juice also had a lower intake of added sugars, saturated fat, and dietary fats (O'Neil et al., 2008).

In regard to the data by the NHANES, moderate consumption of fresh juice among adults is associated with healthy lifestyles in addition to a reduced risk of becoming obese (O'Neil et al., 2012). Similarly, the same data showed that the rate of the metabolic syndrome goes down among those people who consume 100% fresh juice. In addition to these statistics, another critical establishment was that those people who consumed fresh juice also had lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) and waist circumferences as compared to non-consumers (Pereira & Fulgoni, 2011).

The National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) has shown that a bigger percentage of Americans consume a significantly less amount of fresh fruit juice based on the recommendations by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines (O'Neil et al., 2012). As the NFVA found, only eight percent of the whole population and twelve percent of children were achieving the set fresh fruit consumption target.

Rampersaud (2007) studied fruit juices in reference to their contribution to health. Focusing on the topic of nutrient-dense foods, Rampersaud observed that the calorie content of the foods was instrumental in understanding the worth of fruit juice in the diet. Although 100% fruit juices have become common, they have different calorie volumes. The research by Rampersaud employed six approaches in reviewing the concentrations of seven 100% fruit juices. The fruit juices included were apple, grape, white grapefruit, pink grapefruit, orange, prune, and pineapple.

A study by Boato et al. (2002) found out that it is essential to consume 100% fruit juice, since it contains bioavailable Fe which is necessary for healthy growth, as well as intellectual development, among infants and growing children. Fruit juices remain highly nutritious, since they are rich in Fe uptake inhibitors such as polyphenolic compounds (Boato et al., 2002). Fruit juices also have ascorbic acid which is highly helpful to growth. Based on this realization, an in-vitro digestion model was developed to compare various effects of the following juices: apple, grape, white grapefruit, red grapefruit, orange, prune, and pineapple.

It has been found that orange juice does more good than harm in terms of the diet of consumers. Based on one study, adults who drank 100% fruit juice were more likely to have a better overall diet by consuming additional important nutrients. By consuming the critical nutrients, the people in question were found to be at a reduced risk of becoming overweight than those adults who did not consume fruit juice (Fulgoni, Rampersaud, O'Neil & Nicklas, 2011). Moreover, research has shown that children who drank 100% orange juice enjoyed a better life in terms of health and consumption of other valuable nutrients.

The same study established that the consumption of 100% orange juice was linked to a 16% decline in becoming obese among adults. For females, the results were even more encouraging, since the consumption of the fruits guaranteed a decline in becoming obese by 27%. These findings showed consistency with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which had concluded that consuming 100% fruit juice had no association with body weight. Research by Gail Rampersaud of FloridaUniversity helped confirm this by disabusing the perception that 100% juice had an association with body weight.

There is a host of evidence that supports the absence of the link between weight gain and the consumption of 100% orange fruit juice. A study by the NHANES suggested that people who consumed 100% juice tended to depict higher levels of consuming other minerals/nutrients with positive effects on their health. The nutrients include iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, thiamin, carotenoids, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin D. The study further affirmed the importance of consuming the juice by establishing that the withdrawal of orange juice from the diet had a negative effect on the consumption of the said nutrients (Chun et al., 201a).

The research assessment reached the conclusion that the intake of 100% citrus juice including orange and grape juice contributed significantly to the decline in the chances of developing respiratory and digestive cancers. In addition, the study showed a correlation between the consumption of juices and a reduction in blood pressure, as well as an improvement in regard to bone health (Hyson, 2011).

Another NHANES study indicated that adult people who consumed 100% orange juice showed a tendency to having a lower BMI, body fat, and waist circumferences in comparison to those who never drank the juice (Chun et al., 2011). Another notable finding from the NHANES study was that adolescents and children who consumed 100% orange juice stood a better chance to comply with the MyPyramid health recommendations which call for limiting sugary and flavored foods (Sebastian, Enns, Goldman, Bowman, Moshfegh, 2008).

A clinical research which entailed men consuming two glasses of 100% orange fruit juice reflected the beneficial attributes of the juice. As the study established, the consumption of the juice was correlated with a decline in the risks to experience cardiovascular conditions. Specifically, consumers of the fruit juice reflected improved vascular functionality and low levels of blood pressure. Research in support of this contended that hesperidin and orange juice had a direct influence on the shift in the health status of consumers (Morand, Milenkovic, Chanet, Deval & Mazur, 2011). Another study devoted to vitamin D and calcium supplementation among obese adults indicated that the ones who consumed food servings with orange juice tended to show a high rate of reduction in their levels of visceral fat (fat that surrounds abdominal organs) (Moore, Rosenblum & Kaplan, 2011).

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