Has Everbody Been Wrong About Orange Juice?

I actually remember this hubub by Dr. Paresh Dandona back close to the time I started blogging on health and diet.

Here it is again, in more detail, in Mother JonesAre Happy Gut Bacteria Key to Weight Loss?

A few years before Super Size Me hit theaters in 2004, Dr. Paresh Dandona, a diabetes specialist in Buffalo, New York, set out to measure the body’s response to McDonald’s—specifically breakfast. Over several mornings, he fed nine normal-weight volunteers an egg sandwich with cheese and ham, a sausage muffin sandwich, and two hash brown patties.

Dandona is a professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo who also heads the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York, and what he observed has informed his research ever since. Levels of a C-reactive protein, an indicator of systemic inflammation, shot up “within literally minutes.” “I was shocked,” he recalls, that “a simple McDonald’s meal that seems harmless enough”—the sort of high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal that 1 in 4 Americans eats regularly—would have such a dramatic effect. And it lasted for hours. […]

Over the next decade he tested the effects of various foods on the immune system. A fast-food breakfast inflamed, he found, but a high-fiber breakfast with lots of fruit did not. A breakthrough came in 2007 when he discovered that while sugar water, a stand-in for soda, caused inflammation, orange juice—even though it contains plenty of sugar—didn’t.

The Florida Department of Citrus, a state agency, was so excited it underwrote a subsequent study, and had fresh-squeezed orange juice flown in for it. This time, along with their two-sandwich, two-hash-brown, 910-calorie breakfast, one-third of his volunteers—10 in total—quaffed a glass of fresh OJ. The non-juice drinkers, half of whom drank sugar water, and the other half plain water, had the expected response—inflammation and elevated blood sugar. But the OJ drinkers had neither elevated blood sugar nor inflammation. The juice seemed to shield their metabolism. “It just switched off the whole damn thing,” Dandona says. Other scientists have since confirmed that OJ has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Orange juice is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, beneficial flavonoids, and small amounts of fiber, all of which may be directly anti-inflammatory. But what caught Dandona’s attention was another substance. Those subjects who ate just the McDonald’s breakfast had increased blood levels of a molecule called endotoxin. This molecule comes from the outer walls of certain bacteria. If endotoxin levels rise, our immune system perceives a threat and responds with inflammation.

So that’s the new “gut connection” that attempts to explain the effect, which the rest of the article goes on into some detail.

So, the question is, what else in terms of fruit and vegetables might have similar effects?

For some time now, I’ve made orange juice a modest but regular part of most days. Probably less than 12 ounces, on average. The problem is, I’m not altogether than impressed with anything commercially available, since I’m not near a Whole Foods where they have the on-site fresh squeezed available (non-pasturized, as well).

Even though the labels on all the best products say “100% orange juice, never from concentrate,” they just always lack a lot of flavor and depth, for me.

Enter the BLACK & DECKER CJ630 32-Ounce Electric Citrus Juicer. It’s a ridiculous nineteen bucks. That and a 10-pound sack of oranges and man oh wow: it’s not even the same thing at all! no comparison. I use the highest pulp setting, but it’s not like there’s pulp floating around. It just makes the juice a bit thicker, more depth and body, like a nectar more than a watery juice. Also, I think having it at room temperature makes a big taste difference as well.

Three oranges renders a nice 8-10 ounce glass. Perfect for me. For other meals, I’ll typically do just one orange (3-4 ounces) right before a meal and I have noticed far better clearance of the meal with no boating or digestion discomfort. I never noticed such a thing from the pasteurized, bottled stuff from the market.

If you try, let me know what you think.

Elixa Probiotic is a British biotech manufacturer in Oxford, UK. U.S. Demand is now so high they’ve established distribution centers in Illinois, Nevada, and New Jersey.

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  1. Hap on March 11, 2017 at 15:27

    This is difficult to sort out. Oj recommended to raise sugar in low bs diabetics…..within 15 min of ingestion. Glyicemic index 66-76……depending.

    The rest of it…….a mystery.

  2. Barbara on March 11, 2017 at 16:51

    Interesting. Used to drink OJ all the time until we were all told it was diabetes in a glass. Dealing with reflux these days and even smelling citrus gives me heartburn otherwise I’d give it a go.

    Reading Norm Robillard’s book on the reflux subject. Haven’t you worked with him before? Any thoughts?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2017 at 17:07

      I like Norm and we’ve corresponded a lot, Introduction by Mike Eades. Tim Steele has also been involved in many of those threads.

      Unfortunately, I think Norm is way too fixated on SIBO to the point it’s his hammer, and everything is a nail.

      If you think you have SIBO, do a water only fast for 2-4 days, watch how quickly your digestion becomes normal.

      Everyone always thinks, what do I have to eat to fix my digestion? How about give it a fucking substantial rest for fucking one time in your life? See what happens.

    • Barbara on March 11, 2017 at 17:17

      Had an endoscopy and colonoscopy Thursday and had to do a liquid only deal on Wednesday (stuck with chicken broth and water) and then nothing by mouth Thursday until test at 3:30 in the afternoon. Felt great.

      Have mid reflux not the LPR that hits the esophagus so figured it was an ulcer until test showed otherwise. Going to integrate more fasting if for no other reason than the absence of food equals absence of burning pain in my side. Carbs (even properly prepared beans, potatoes, etc) leave me ridiculously flatulent ever since I had surgery a few years ago so Norm’s thoughts on gas affecting reflux had me wondering.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2017 at 17:23

      The funny thing about flatulence is that people are conditioned to think it’s a bad sign rather than a good sign.

      Turn it around. It signals that your colon is fermenting substrate. You fart out some of it, but some of it also feeds other bugs.

      I’m not a chronic legume eater but I can tell you that if I go eat a lot over a week or two, way less flatulence. I think a moderate amount is one sign of a decent, functional gut doing what’s it’s supposed to do.

      Next time you fart, think if it this way: well, I just fed some bugs and killed some bugs.

  3. 980 on March 11, 2017 at 18:43

    I thought OJ doesn’t have a metabolic response the first few hours after ingesting it. It’d make me puke for the acids in it, for non-digestion, and with hybridized fruits which could modify epigenetics,, such as allergic reactions to fruits, and other flavor packets within orange juice, makes me want to research if some natural flavors shut off the digestion fluids which makes caloric absorption not happen, meaning no sugar reaction means that there an an allergy, when mixed with greasy and fatty foods. Even fresh squeezed citrus juice, say, grapefruits, those are hybridized now, with certain changes in them that is not the same as orange juice 50 years ago. Last I read, a University in California was responsible for the new grapefruits, plus all those sprays against fruit flies. Could it also be how the fruit fly spraying and insecticides have reactions on the body, particularly the gallbladder? Those non-reactive studies of citrus juice consumers, do they still have their gallbladders intact or are they removed?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2017 at 19:18

      What sort of OJ are you talking about? I made a clear distinction and you are avoiding it.

    • Hap on March 11, 2017 at 21:50

      Yes….give us a short lecture on the OJ…so I can understand what appears to be a rant.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2017 at 23:07

      Hap, do note we’re talking about “hybridized” fruits and OMG…”EPIGENETICS!”

      Epigentics are the sort of convenient genetics where is’s not about genetics, metabolism, biology, neurology, or anything else.

      It’s the layman science of snowflakes.

  4. Tabitha on March 12, 2017 at 12:01

    Similar effects can be found in fatty fish because of the omega-3 fatty acids – provided you cook this fish in a healthy way. Whole grains have been proven to reduce C-reactive protein levels, as long as they are the main ingredient with no added sugars. Red and orange peppers have also been proven to have similar effects on inflammation, however this is fairly subjective to the person eating, as they can actually worsen the condition of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

  5. Raynote on March 13, 2017 at 02:08

    Does it really have to be juice? Can’t an orange or two give exactly the same beneficial results? Just wondering…

    • Richard Nikoley on March 13, 2017 at 09:51

      Oh, probably, but that juicer I have, on the highest setting, it pretty much is the whole orange, just in a super tasty form.

  6. Nathan on March 13, 2017 at 05:07

    It almost makes you think that the answer to all this is just, “eat real food”; naaaaahhh, that couldn’t be right. :-)

  7. ramon on March 13, 2017 at 08:40

    Ray Peat???

    • PaleoPhil on March 14, 2017 at 04:26

      Thanks Ramon, that’s what I was thinking–Ray Peat and Danny Roddy haven’t been wrong about orange juice. As Richard and I discussed before, the acid-sensitive can add milk, which also gives a tasty creamsicle/Orange Julius effect.

  8. Wilbur on March 13, 2017 at 18:24

    Maybe I’m missing something, but my understanding is that 100% OJ bought in the store is anything but, except perhaps from concentrate. I’m not a fan of Huffington Post, but I like this


    Especially in the letter about removing orange aroma. Um, aroma is flavor? The book Pandora’s Lunchbox goes into more detail with the same point.

    100% natural OJ from a carton seems to be very different from your home-squeezed juice. Also from flown-in freshly squeezed juice supplied by FL. The store stuff is closer to orange-flavored sugar water.

  9. LaFrite on March 14, 2017 at 06:50

    When I have a fatty-meaty breakfast, I have the habit of downing it with the juice of a couple of squeezed oranges. When I don’t have such a meaty-fatty BF, I do the same :D

    But it is not a ritual, I just happen to do it often. I also like to quarter an orange and bite into the juicy bits until nothing’s left but the skin :)

  10. Justin Watts on March 21, 2017 at 19:22

    I just picked up a $10 juicer on clearance at Homegoods. I saw it and this post immediately came to mind. You’re right – at that price it’s a no-brainer. I’m picking up a sack of oranges tomorrow and looking forward to trying this out.

    Not the point of your article I know, but 980’s comment reminded me of things I read years back about all the crap that’s in orange juice that the manufacturers don’t have to disclose on the label – “flavor packs”, etc. Add pasteurization to that and the final product won’t be anywhere close to the juicer you use.

    Random comments since I’m here already: You got me buying raw milk, and a glass a day has settled out any tummy issues I had nagging me. Regular milk doesn’t like me, I get allergic reactions. Definitely the live factor feeding the gut. I tried your “Ray Peat milk and OJ” last time I was sick and couldn’t keep solids down. It worked like a charm and I had energy all day. Now that I can make my own I’m going to try the milk/OJ combo again.

  11. Joseph on April 8, 2017 at 23:25

    Would a nutribullet or similar juicer be good for this? Or the old fashioned citrus jusicer like the one above is better?

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