A friend of mine has become a Juice Plus seller and she’s been urging me to start taking it.
She says it’s nutritionally the same as eating fruit and vegetables and that she’s lost weight, gained energy, you name it. I’ve been searching for a whole-food supplement, but what she’s saying about this one does not ring true to me at all. It’s also very expensive. Do you have a view on it?
I’ve had several people ask me about Juice Plus. For anyone not familiar with it, this is a range of supplements that’s sold via multi-level marketing.
This means that independent reps earn commission for selling products – often to their family and friends – and they might also seek to sign people up as sellers so they can earn commission on their sales, too.
Juice Plus markets itself as “the next best thing to fruits and vegetables” – and its flagship Fruit Blend and Vegetable Blend capsules as supplements that add “the nutrition of 17 fruits, vegetables and grains to your diet”. So far, so wholesome.
The company says that one of the reasons it’s not sold in stores is to give consumers “the opportunity to have conversations with Juice Plus+ representatives to fully understand the product before buying.”
But hold on!
Multi-level marketing reps do not always understand enough about nutrition to really understand the product, so there is a danger that they may misinform rather than inform prospective buyers.
The law is actually very strict about what those selling nutritional supplements can claim their product might do.
Products sold via traditional routes play by these rules – they have to, as they’re strictly regulated. But those sold via multi-level marketing can be a whole other ball of wax.
For example, I’ve heard Juice Plus sellers confidently claim that the capsules give you the equivalent of 17 servings of fruit and veg a day and that they contain “nothing synthetic”.
Neither of these claims bears any relation to reality. I’ll shortly get on to the first one. As for the second, Juice Plus contains a number of synthetic nutrients, fillers and other additives, including this controversial flow agent.
Juice Plus is certainly an expensive supplement, given what’s in it.
It costs £1.23 a day to be on the recommended four daily capsules – but how much fruit and veg does this actually provide?
That is hard to nail down as the company is less than specific about it, but one study found that each 1 gram capsule contained the equivalent of 10 grams of fresh fruit or veg. Based on that, the four daily capsules might give an amount equal to – drum roll – half a serving.
This ratio of 10 grams of the real thing per 1 gram of powder sounds reasonable, as fruits and vegetables generally do not dehydrate down to less than 10% of their fresh weight (and we’ll ignore here the fact that the capsules today have closer to 0.5 gram of the fruit/veg powder in them than 1 gram).
So…£1.23 a day for a supplement which gives maybe half a serving a day of fruit and veg.
You could easily get “five a day” of the real thing for that!
And let’s not forget that powdered, processed produce can never be seen as equivalent to the real thing.
If a whole-food powder is processed carefully enough, we will get some of the nutrition but we never get all of it.
And those bits that are missing? They matter.
The body is designed to get nutrition from fresh, whole foods; by the time a fruit or vegetable has undergone the amount of processing required to turn it into a powder with a shelf life, it has become something quite different.
This is why we call them supplements not substitutes.
Juice Plus makes this clear in its official marketing – but independent reps selling it do not always, and your friend is a case in point.
Now, when you’re traveling or otherwise in circumstances where it’s hard to access fresh fruit and veg, is it worth taking some in powdered supplemental form? Absolutely.
And what about if you eat plenty of fruit and veg but still like the idea of getting in some extra goodness with a whole-food supplement?
Same answer – rock on!
But don’t waste your dosh on an inferior product. Your cells want and deserve the very best!
My favourite whole-food supplement is Pure Synergy by The Synergy Company (no – I’m not on commission; I just think it’s a great product).
Let’s do a quick comparison to see how this stacks up next to Juice Plus…
Pure Synergy powder: Certified organic. Contains a blend of 60 organic and wild-crafted ingredients, with no fillers or additives. The ingredients include algaes, grass juices, and freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, sprouts and herbs.
Juice Plus Fruit and Vegetable Blend capsules: Not organic. Contain a blend of 17 fruits, vegetables and grains, along with various synthetic nutrients, fillers and other additives.
Cost of Pure Synergy powder per 50 grams (Amazon.co.uk Price): £10.37.
Cost of Juice Plus Fruit and Vegetable Blend capsules per 50 grams: £18.38 – nearly 80% more. (And remember, in this case the 50 grams is not all “good stuff” but a mix of that plus synthetic ingredients).
I’ve used Pure Synergy powder for this comparison as it’s the most economical way to take it, but let’s compare the capsules, too.
Cost of 270 Pure Synergy capsules (again, on Amazon.co.uk): £59.90. Cost of 270 Juice Plus capsules: £82.69.
Back to your question, someone else’s success story is rarely a good reason to start taking something – especially when they also make commission from the product they’re recommending.
For a start, we’re all so different.
Second, most people understand little about the placebo effect and vastly underestimate its power.
Third, the placebo effect is never more powerful than when augmented by a profit motive.
And last, in addition to the above, some people who are making money from a product will embellish and embroider the results they’ve had in their eagerness to sign you up.
For those who are desperate to look and feel better – and we’ve all been there – a compelling testimonial can be all it takes to close the sale.
But the savvy way to choose nutritional supplements is by focusing on what’s in them rather than on the results others say they’ve had on them!
I hope this helps and warmest wishes,