The gyms are full of people who have been eating nutritious foods for a week, determined to get healthier in 2020! With new year’s resolutions fresh on their minds they are extra motivated. Many will follow fad diets until they burn out, while a few will make lasting changes that will impact their health in a positive way.
It is my desire to support those who want to make real lasting changes to their health by eating real food. This includes lots of fresh veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and quality proteins. Most people would especially benefit from increasing the amount of vegetables in their diet.
Juicing is a great way to get many more servings of vegetables than we would typically consume. Let’s explore the benefits of juicing and learn how to incorporate it in the most beneficial way!
What is Juicing?
“When you drink fresh, live juice, it's almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your body without needing to be broken down. Since juicing is essentially ‘mainlining’ live nutrients, it's no surprise it can produce rapid and profound health benefits.” - Dr. Mercola
Juicing is a process in which the natural liquid, vitamins, and minerals are separated from the pulp of raw fruits and vegetables.
Many people associate juicing with a cleanse, detox, or juicing fast. That is not what I am recommending here! I find that it is extremely beneficial to add juicing to a nutrient-rich diet of whole foods.
While certain situations may benefit from a juice fast, it is important to do so with great care. Generally speaking, it is best to do so under the care of a guiding physician. It is possible to detox too quickly or have other nasty side effects if you are not guided properly.
Benefits of Juicing
- Provides a way to consume large amounts of vegetables. Most people do not eat nearly enough vegetables. Juicing gives us a way to ingest these nutrients in an easy way that most people will enjoy.
- Gives the body high levels of phytonutrients & antioxidants. Our bodies need phytonutrients and antioxidants to deal with free radicals, preventing them from causing damage in the body.
- Delivers nutrients in a form that is more easily absorbed by the body. Fruit and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Juicing breaks down the fiber’s cell wall, releasing these nutrients and making it easier to digest and absorb.
- Encourages gut health by feeding the good bacteria in your gut. Many people are aware that probiotics are important for gut health, but a recent study found that prebiotics are even more important. Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. The study found that eating foods rich in prebiotics increased the good bacteria in the gut by 133 million. Since 70% of the immune system is believed to reside in the gut it is extremely important to keep our gut flora balanced by feeding the good bacteria.
- Provides gel water to hydrate your body. In their book Quench, authors Cohen and Bria describe gel water, or living water, as a “newly identified phase of water that’s not quite liquid, vapor, or ice. (It is) identified by an extra hydrogen and oxygen atom, so the molecular structure is H3O2.” Gel water exists in plants and can be found in fruits, vegetables, & seeds. It is better at hydrating because it stays in our bodies longer. Juicing provides you lots of gel water to keep you well hydrated.
But Our Ancestors Didn’t Have Juicers!
Many of you know that generally, my advice about what to eat is to simply look at what our ancestors ate. If my great, great, grandparents would not have eaten it, then it is a pretty good indication that I shouldn’t. However, the reality is that our environment has changed, and it is important to consider this reality.
According to Dr. Mercola, “when you consider how nutrient levels in most foods have dramatically decreased since the introduction of mechanized farming in 1925, juicing really makes sense”
He explains that modern-day farming practices have stripped our soil of vital microorganisms that are responsible for the plant's nutrient uptake. For this reason, our food is not as nutrient-dense as it used to be.
As research scientist August Dunning explains, “in order to receive the same amount of iron you used to get from one apple in 1950, today you'd have to eat 36 apples!”
How to Get Started
- Choosing a juicer - A juicer is simply an appliance that separates the pulp from the juice, but with so many choices on the market it can get confusing quickly. Since juicers run anywhere from $60-$2500, it can be hard to know where to begin. If you are interested in doing the research for yourself, this Juicer Buying Guide would be a great place to start. It looks at the mechanisms of different types of juicers, and the effect it has on the quality of the juice produced.
For some quick recommendations, I have heard good things about these juicers:
- Centrifuge - Breville Juice Fountain Compact
- Masticating - Nama Cold Press Juicer Vitality 5800
- Twin Gear - Tribest Green Star Elite GSE 5000 Juice Extractor
- Buying ingredients - The quality of your juice will also be dependent on the quality of your ingredients. It is important to get fresh, organic produce whenever possible to avoid the pesticides found in conventional produce. If this is not possible for you, the Environmental Working Group provides a “Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen” list that can guide you. Items on the dirty dozen list were found to contain the most pesticides, while the clean fifteen list showed the least amount of pesticide.
- Preparing ingredients - Juicing can be time-consuming. You need to buy, prepare, and juice the produce, and then clean up! But there are some things that you can use to make juicing easier.
- Process your produce ahead of time - Wash, peel, and chop everything ahead of time. By doing this all at once you will only need to clean up once, rather than every time you juice.
- Most of the leafy green stems can be juiced with the produce (strawberries, celery, etc.) and do not need to be trimmed. However, carrot greens contain toxins and are not safe to consume.
- Make baggies - divide the produce into baggies based on your recipe. This way you grab one bag, throw it into the juicer, and enjoy a quick boost! Wash (or at least rinse) your juicer right away! If you let it sit, everything will dry and it will be that much harder to clean.
- Making and consuming the juice - While it may be tempting to make a big batch of juice at once, it is important to consume the juice while it is fresh. The juice begins to oxidize and lose nutrients the longer it sits. If you do need to wait to consume your juice try using the following tips to prevent oxidation.
- Store your juice in airtight glass containers such as mason jars.
- Keep the juice cool and out of the light.
- Add a bit of lemon to the juice (also great for detoxification).
- Juice from a masticating or twin gear juicer will last longer than a centrifuge juicer.
Considerations for Juicing
- Make your juice 80% veggies! Use fruit as an accent, not the main produce. While juice provides lots of great nutrients, it is high in sugar and should not be overused.
- Have a variety of veggies in your rotation. This variety will help provide a more balanced approach.
- Even some good things like kale can be overdone. While loaded with dense nutrition, you don’t want to consume large amounts of raw kale as it may impact thyroid function in some individuals.
- Juicing is acceptable during intermittent fasting. Since the fiber is removed and it is so easy to digest, fresh juice will not break your fast.
- Do not rely on most store-bought juices to provide you with the nutrients found in fresh juice! Most store-bought juice has added ingredients and has been processed in a way that strips it of much of its’ nutritional value. (For example, it is normal for the juice to separate as it settles if the juice does not separate over time there is a reason.)
- If you want to try fresh juice without the investment, check out Natures Best Cafe in Naperville. They have a number of fresh juices made onsite.
Examples of Recipes
Rainbow Bright Green Juice (Dr. Schaeffer)
- 3 Kale leaves
- 3 Celery Stalks
- 4 Carrots
- 2 Granny Smith Apples
Lean, Mean and Green (Dr. Schaeffer)
- 1 Lemon
- ½ Cucumber
- 1 Bunch Watercress
- 2 Carrots
- 1” Ginger Root
I love the taste and nutritional benefits of juicing! What about you? Have you ever juiced? Do you have a favorite recipe?