People really believe that strictly-vegetable smoothies and juices are sugar-free. They’re not. Just because it tastes bitter doesn’t mean there’s no sugar in it. One of my favorite examples of this is bitter grapefruit. Grapefruit—not the giant ruby red ones, mind you—is bitter as hell if you bite into the wrong one, but guess what? There’s still anywhere from three to six tablespoons of sugar in it. It’s just more bitter than it is sweet—imagine how it’d taste if it didn’t have that sugar.

Kale has elements of sugar in it (it varies depending on the kind you use). Carrots have mad sugar in them. Collard Greens, believe it or not, have sugar in them. And, believe it or not, when you add up all the ingredients to your drink and plug them into your favorite calorie counting app, guess what? You might not get to 56g of sugar like some of these other fruit-based recipes, but you can still inadvertently find yourself encroaching upon “this has the same amount of sugar as found in a sodapop” territory.

People believe that juicing/blending larger amounts of fruits and veggies—and, by extension, consuming larger amounts—means your body is getting even more nutrients, and that can only be a good thing. I’m sorry to say, this is inaccurate.

Your body can only process but so many nutrients at any particular time. Your body doesn’t store away Vitamin C, for example, and break it out when you have a cold. Your body processes what it can while it can and, the stuff that it can’t? Goes the same place that junk goes: out the door.

Believe it or not, there is a limit to the rate of nutrient absorption your body will handle; when you actually chew your food, the fiber and protein would naturally tell you to stop eating because you’d feel full, thereby preventing you from overconsuming your nutrients. When you juice, you don’t have that fullness to create that boundary for you. Most of what you’re taking in goes directly out.

That’s not to say that you don’t benefit from any of the nutrients and won’t feel better if you’re switching from a fully junky diet to a more nutritious one. Maxing out that limit will definitely make you feel better. It does mean that, beyond that limit of your nutrient absorption, you will not benefit from that. It’s a waste.

Stories about people “reversing their diabetes” by drinking green juices are resulting in people believing it’s impossible for juices and smoothies to give them diabetes. This is… troubling.

Here’s the deal. The average person consumes about 25-35% of their daily calories in the form of added sugars. That’s high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, whatever you want to call it. So, if you’re consuming 2400 calories a day, you’re taking in at least 600 calories of sugar on a regular and consistent basis. If you’re also an extremely sedentary person, then all that sugar is constantly in your blood stream, and it’s telling your body “this is the new normal,” which discourages your body from releasing the hormones necessary to protect you from the dangers of having all that sugar in your blood stream.

If your new lifestyle of juicing or smoothies means you’re now consuming 300 calories of sugar instead of the 600+, that’s stilla large amount (5% is about the ideal level) but it is considerably less than the 600 you were consuming before. It re-teaches your body to accept this lower blood sugar level as the “new normal,” which can teach your body how to respond accordingly to blood sugar levels higher than that. That’s what it looks like to “reverse” your diabetes with these sugary drinks.