Juicing: Pour a Glass of Health and Vitality into your life!
by Martin Harpwood
Like disco and leisure suits, juicing became a craze in the 1970s, only to fizzle shortly thereafter. Now, as research regarding the health benefits of eating plenty fresh fruit and vegetables mounts, more and more people are rediscovering juicing.
For some, whipping fresh fruits and vegetables through a juicer and extracting glassfuls of vitamin-packed pulpy nectar ensures that they’ll get the recommended five to seven servings of these foods every day. Others turn to juicing as a way to get more carotenoids and flavonoids, healing compounds that experts believe can fight major diseases, from anaemia and constipation to arthritis.
For millions of people a handful of vitamin and mineral pills is as much as part of their morning fare as a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea. And while this isn’t a bad way to supplement your diet, there may be a better one.
Juices are a multivitamin/mineral supplement for people who don’t want to take pills and capsules. And your body absorbs the nutrients from juices fat better than it does from a pill.
It is also believed that the body absorbs the nutrients from juices better than it does from the food themselves. Although plants are full of vitamins, minerals, and other healing compounds, these substances are bound to fibrous tissue and contain cellulose walls. When you grind up vegetables or fruits to make juice, you break down the cellulose, releasing these compounds and making them available for absorption.
Unless you chew very well and few people do-you won’t get all the nutrients from food that you can get from juice. Juice is one of the most powerful whole foods that you get put your body. It takes little energy to digest it, so you maintain almost all the energy and nutrients that it gives.
Plus, it takes a mountain of vegetables to get the same amount of nutrients founds in one glass of juice, To get all the vitamins you get from just six ounces of carrot juice, you’d need to eat eight carrots. Not too many people are going to eat eight carrots. But they’ll drink a little glass of carrot juice.
A six-ounce glass of carrot juice contains large amounts of beta-carotene, which when it’s converted to vitamin A in the body, delivers 848% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDA). This same juice has also 16 milligrams of vitamin C, 27percent of the RDA, 0.4 milligram of vitamin B6, 20 percent of the RDA; 537 milligrams of potassium, 15 percent of the RDA; and 0.2 milligrams of thiamine, 11 percent of the RDA.
Despite their nutritional payload, juices should be used to supplement fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains in your diet, not replace them. As good as juices are, they don’t contribute much towards the 20 to 35 grams of fibre hat adults should eat each day. For example, while eight carrots provide 17 grams of fibre, a six-ounce glass of juice has merely two grams. Diets high in fibre have been linked with much lower incidence of certain cancers, digestive problems, and high cholesterol.
Juicing is great way to detox. The principles of detoxing are:
- It rests and soothes your digestive system, from stomach to hard-working colon
- It flushes through your kidneys and liver – major organs of elimination
- It purifies your blood and tissues
- It speeds up your metabolism and encourages the elimination of toxins.
Fresh juices have remarkable cleansing and toning qualities and are also rich in vitamins and minerals. They also contain a variety of phytonutrients; compounds in plants that may help prevent serious health threats like cancer and heart disease.
Perhaps the best-known phytonutrient is beta-carotene, a plant pigment that puts the orange glow in sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe. Studies have shown that people who eat diets high in fruits and vegetables, particularly those containing large amounts of beta-carotene, have much lower cancer risks than those who do not.
Beta-carotene isn’t the only phytonutrient found in fruits and vegetables. There are hundreds of compounds, like lutein, lycopene and alpha-carotene that have shown disease-fighting mettle as well. Drinking juices of carotenoid-rich foods, particularly carrots, tomatoes, and dark green vegetables, gives your body a full arsenal of these compounds.
The most important phytochemicals are:
- Quercetin – an antioxidant found in apples and cranberries
- Ellagic Acid – an anti-ageing substance found in blueberries, cranberries and grapes
- Beta-carotene – a pigment found in orange and dark leafy fruits and vegetables. It’s an important antioxidant and the plant form of vitamin A
- Lycopene – a pigment found in tomatoes and thought to help prevent cancer
- Isoflavones – oestrogen-like substances founds in foods derived from soya bean (tofu, silken tofu, soya milk)
- Sulforaphane glucosinolate – an antioxidant found in broccoli
- Indole-3 carbinol – an antioxidant found in cruciferous vegetables: bok, choy, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, greens, kale, radishes, rocket, swede, turnips and watercress.
Fruits and vegetable juices also contain compounds called flavonoids, which show strong anti-oxidant powers. That is, they help prevent disease by sweeping up harmful, cell-damaging oxygen molecules called free radicals that naturally accumulate in the body. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron during its interaction with other molecules. They become wounded, unstable oxygen molecules that try to heal themselves. In their quest to heal themselves, free radicals steal electrons from any healthy molecule they can grab, creating more free radicals in the process. More and more research is showing that free radical damage contributes to many illnesses, including hardening of the arteries, degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, certain cancers, and even aging itself.
Antioxidants help prevent low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, from oxidising. This is the process that makes cholesterol stick to the artery walls and contributes to heart disease. Studies show that people who eat flavonoid-rich foods such as apples and onions have lower risks of heart attack then those who do not. Every time you eat fruits, vegetables, or other antioxidant-rich foods, a flood of these protective compounds enter your bloodstream. They travel throughout your body, stepping between your body’s healthy molecules and the pillaging free radicals, offering up their own electrons. This neutralises the free radicals and keep your cells out of harms way. Drinking a large variety of vegetable and fruit juices is great way to get therapeutic amounts of these healing compounds. For maximum healing benefits, you should drink about a pint of mixed vegetable juice each day.
Pollution, pesticides, preservatives, artificial colourings-these are a mere smattering of the toxic elements that your body takes in every day. Your body, of course, tries to eliminate these toxins through cleansing organs like the liver. But just as you empty a vacuum cleaner bags to help the hover work properly, you should occasionally flush the toxins from your body.
Although the mainstream medical community largely discounts this theory, many natural-health doctors recommend “cleaning house” periodically with a juice fast. This means abstaining from solid food for a couple of days and getting your nourishment from fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
When you spend a couple of days getting the nutrition from juices, not only do you get a higher portion of vitamins, minerals, and natural enzymes but your body doesn’t have to work very hard at digestion, so you have more nutritionally rich blood with more time to clean up, heal overworked cells, and help the body regenerate.
You could also see an enhancement in your immune system as a result from juice fasting. Symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis, sinusitis and allergies generally decrease dramatically. While natural-health doctors agree that juice fasting isn’t a cure for these conditions, it may help provide temporarily relief.
Although juice fasts are generally safe, there are certain conditions, such as Type 1 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, that can be aggravated by them.
How to juice
There’s more to juicing than merely dropping the pick of the day into the blender. To get the freshest flavours while preserving the most nutrients, here’s what I advise.
- Scrub it. While not all fruits and vegetables require peeling, many do, for a variety of reasons. The skins of oranges and grapefruits, for example, contain chemicals that can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. Waxed produce should be peeled before juicing, as should tropical fruits, which often are grow in countries where the use of pesticides isn’t well regulated.
- Remove the pits and seeds Apple seeds, which contain trace amounts of cyanide, would be removed before juicing. Seeds in melon, lemons, and limes and pits from peaches and plum, and other stone fruits should also be removed. Grape seeds are safe, however, and can be placed in the juicer along with the fruit.
- Use the whole vegetable/ most vegetables can be juiced in their entirety-leaves, stems, and all. Two exceptions are rhubarb leaves and carrot tops both contain toxic compounds.
- Chunk it. The openings of most juicers are quite small, so you should cut your produce into manageable pieces. Also, small chunks put less strain on the motor, which will help your juicer last longer.
- Bland your bananas. When juicing with fruits that contain little water, like bananas and avocados, it’s helpful to juice the other items first, then add their drier produce to produce a thick, smooth drink.
- Drink it quickly. Just as juice gives up their nutritional benefits soon after they are made, their flavour is also fleeting. Some juice, such as cabbage, becomes rancid in a few hours. Sot it’s a good idea to make only as much as you plan to drink right away.
- Or freeze it. Carrot, apple, and orange juice are quite hardy and will keep for three to four weeks when frozen in a sealed plastic container.
There’s virtually no limit to the tastes and textures that you can create by mixing a variety of fruits and vegetables in your juicer. Here are a few simple combinations you may want to try.
- Carrots and celery, which often combined, are considered universal mixers, which means that they combine well with other vegetable. Try juicing three carrots for every stalk of celery.
- Combining the juice from a couple of tomatoes with juice from few slices of sweet green peppers make a refreshing, sodium-free alternative to salt-laden store bought tomato juice.
- For a surprisingly refreshing drink, combine one large peeled cucumber and a small onion. Using different varieties of onions, from sweet to hot whites, will create a range of interesting flavours.
Getting the Most:
- Sip it quickly. Once the fruit or vegetable goes through the juicer, natural enzymes in the food begin to break down the nutrients. Juice loses nutritional value quickly. For Optimal benefits, drinks juices within 30 minutes of making them.
- Focus on vegetables. While a tall glass of fruit juice can be a sweet summer treat, it’s better to concentrate on vegetable juices. Fruits juices are too high in sugar and too acidic to drink in large quantities. Vegetable juices are better nutritionally, and they have a higher alkaline (meaning not acidic) content.
- Enjoy a variety. For maximum healing benefits, drink juices from a variety of vegetables. The more the variety you can work in your diets, the better. This is easy with juices, because you can combine several vegetables into one drink.
Juicing is a great way of adding life-giving, life-enhancing and life-protecting vitamins, minerals and natural food chemicals to your diet. Sure, we can take pills, but they contain only the nutrients we know about in artificial form. On the other hand, the nutrients in fresh juice are more easily absorbed in the body. There’s no comparison between fresh and commercial juices; even ‘freshly squeezed’ ones have been in the bottle for several days. Losing vitamins. Our own freshly squeezed juices are guaranteed to be free from additives, many of which cause asthma, eczema and other allergic reactions. Juices will boost out body’s energy, vitality and natural immunity.
The juicing detox diet – Caroline Wheater (Thornsons)
Juice Fasting & Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz (Sproutman publications)
The Nutritional Health Bible by Linda Lazarides (Thornsons)
Miracle Foods by Anna Selby (Hamlyn)
Vitamins and Minerals Handbook – Amanda Ursell
Optimum Nutrition Bible – Patrick Holford
Juicing for Life – Cherie Colbom