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let's talk juice 


I live in a small town in eastern North Carolina, that's growing by leaps and bounds. Just last week a Tropicla Smoothie opened just down the road. Of course, we had to go check out the smoothies and sandwiches. 

The menu looked yummy and healthy, but beware, all that juice could spell trouble. This time I played it safe with a sandwich. I also asked for a nutritional menu to check my options for a smoothie visit.

Why the caution? Let's talk about drinking fruit juice after weight loss surgery.

We all know that there are health benefits to eating fruit: as well as disease-fighting antioxidants. Oranges prevent inflammation. Lemons can help with kidney stones as well as help with camps and fluid retention. Grapes can boost brain function. Prunes helps with digestion and regularity. Cranberry juice is good for urinary tract health.

But drinking juice is another matter, especially after gastric bypass surgery.  

Juice contains natural sugars, but even whole fruit juice, with no sugar added, is still a concentrated source of sugar and calories. This can cause problems for weight loss surgery patients including those watching their weight or blood sugar levels.  

Fruit juice contains high levels natural sugar, but it can also contain additional sugar. Juice lacks the fiber found in whole fruit, which means we not only miss getting the health benefits of fiber, but sugar, (natural or added) rapidly raises blood sugar levels.

The lack of fiber speeds up the entry of sugar in the bloodstream. Gastric bypass surgery also speeds up the process of undigested sugar "dumping" into the bloodstream— it's a double whammy.

Most gastric bypass patients have found that consuming over 10 grams of sugar at a time can cause problems such as rapidly rising blood sugar levels, causing dumping syndrome, producing abdominal cramps and causing severe diarrhea.

Let's look at the sugar contents of fruit juice: 

  • One 8-oz cup of orange juice contains 21g of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup of cranberry juice has 30 grams of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup of grape juice has 37 grams of sugar.
  • One 8-oz cup apple juice: 27grams of sugar. 

Compared to whole fruit, one medium orange has 12 grams of sugar. 

Only 40 percent of bariatric surgeons allow their patients to drink juice after gastric bypass procedures. The remaining 60 percent of surgeons instruct patients to dilute fruit juices 50/50 with water or to avoid juice altogether.

At our local Tropical Smoothie cafe, I decided the best option is to go small, really small, like kid size. Something like strawberry or banana has less sugar. I could even add a little peanut butter, for a little protein. Even though the peanut butter has more fat grams, it also slows down the rate of absorbtion of the sugar. One good rule of thumb is to make sure I don't consume sugar without first eating a protein loaded meal. Even then I wouldn't suggest comsuming the entire thing at one sitting.  

  • One US cup = 8 fluid ounces.
  • One UK cup = 10 fluid ounces

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