Why juice? Is juicing just a health fad?
What are the benefits of juicing?
Why not simply eat more veggies? Why toss out all the healthy fiber? Or how about just blending some smoothies?
I am here to answer these questions and many more, thanks to years of juicing experience!
1. What is the whole concept behind juicing?
When you eat fruits and veggies, whether you cook them or not, your body can access only some of the enzymes, minerals and vitamins in them. The rest remains trapped in the tough plant fibers. This means that a substantial percentage of the goodness in fresh produce remains out of your body's reach in the normal digestive processes.
I don't like this idea, both for my body's sake and my wallet's sake... It means that I am not getting maximum value for my body and my money!
Juicers to the rescue! What a juicer does, whether via centrifugal power or a 'chewing' action, is to extract a much larger percentage of the nutrients from the fiber, giving your body easy access the whole bunch in the form of fresh juice. Your body can immediately absorb these and put them to work, without complicated digestive processes.
In a sense the juice is what I would call 'pre-digested' food. When downing a glass of juice, you are giving your body instant access to the most powerful micronutrients in concentrated form. Every cell in your body can make use of this powerful cocktail of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.
2. Doesn't a blender offer the same health benefits?
Unfortunately, no. As you saw in the answer to the question above, a juicer is specifically designed to extract the nutrients from the tough plant fibers. A blender hasn't been made to do this. It basically just blends the produce together, without extracting nutrients.
So, smoothies are great and can be made in a healthy way. However, they can't offer you all the benefits of juice. You will also be getting a drink with a much thicker consistency, not a juice as such. Some folks don't enjoy this.
One benefit of using a blender is that it makes use of the fiber as well. A good way to combine juicing and blending, is to add freshly made juice as part of the fluid you add to the smoothie mix. This will at least give you a bit of both worlds! More about juicing versus blending here.
3. Why can't I just eat more veggies?
You can of course always eat more veggies, but you will be hard pressed to chomp through everything you can get in a glass of juice! Juicing offers you a quick way to add much more fresh stuff to your diet and this usually also leads to a greater variety in your intake. You benefit on both sides.
4. How can the concentrated nutrients in juice help me?
Fresh juice made from a variety of the most colorful fruits and vegetables is a powerful health tonic. It is a concentrated source of all sorts of power-nutrients. Most of us would never get as much from eating.
These nutrients, particularly when they are in a form that is easy to absorb, can promote vitality, can be anti-aging and may even prevent certain serious diseases from developing over time. Many existing ailments can be better managed if fresh vegetable juice is introduced as part of the treatment plan.
From heart health to your immune system could benefit significantly if your body have all these vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc at its disposal.
You can select veggies rich in vitamin C for example, or the best ones for a healthy, youthful skin. Or you could look at cancer prevention and aim to give your body as much as possible in that regard.
We may be exposed to many harmful substances in our environment, but we are NOT helpless. There is a lot we can do by simply aiming for healthier nutrition.
5. I feel washed out. Can juicing help to boost my energy?
Just imagine for a moment how much energy your body has to expend to digest huge, heavy, fatty meals. No wonder that there is such an energy slump after a large dinner.
Another way to be virtually certain of an energy slump, is if you rely on caffeine (in coffee or bottled energy drinks) for a lift. Caffeine also brings with it a long list of possible side effects you definitely don't want to expose your body to.
In contrast, a glass of juice may be followed by an energy surge that can sustain you for hours. This is one of my favorite juicing benefits to consider.
Many of us are constantly on the run and don't nourish ourselves as we should. This can contribute to struggling with low energy levels. If this is the case, forget about trying to boost energy in an unnatural way. Why not rather pop a variety of veggies into your juicer and down your own homemade energy cocktail?
6. Will I lose the benefit if I store the juice?
The secret to experiencing the full health benefit of juicing vegetables and fruit, lies in drinking the juice with as little standing time as possible. The aim is to minimize oxidation, and to curb the loss of any of the valuable nutrients.
The three main culprits responsible for destroying the micronutrients in your fresh juice are heat, air, and light. If not taken into account, these factors may reduce the benefits you experience.
If you need to store vegetable juice, try to do so in individual portions. Fill the container to the top, seal it airtight and even go so far as to wrap the container in aluminum foil to keep light out. Refrigerate your fresh juice immediately. Don't store it for more than a couple of hours. A few drops of lemon juice will also help with nutrient retention.
7. Can a juice extractor help me to lose weight?
Juicing isn't a magic bullet that promises to melt the pounds away overnight. However, by incorporating it in your nutrition plan together with extra exercise, it can be helpful in a number of ways.
Fresh juice can be quite filling. So, if you have it before your main meal, you are less likely to overeat. It has also been shown to reduce food cravings. Folks who juice regularly, are more likely to make healthier food choices in general. All of these can contribute to weight loss or maintaining your ideal weight.
Don't overdo it, though! Remember that juice isn't a calorie-free drink! And it does contain sugar. So, limit yourself to 8 to 16 ounces a day (roughly 1 to 2 medium glasses). And don't forget to count these as part of your calorie intake for the day. If you have any ailment, such as diabetes, you need to discuss juicing with your doctor or nutritionist first. The wrong fruit and veggie selection, can cause your blood sugar to spike, so take care.
8. Is juicing good for older people?
Yes! Many older folks may discover that their digestive systems just don't function as effectively as before. They may also experience difficulty eating in the normal way, because of physical problems. Juices can often be tolerated quite well. Ask your doctor if you can supplement your nutrient intake with the help of your juicer.
Juices are also very easy to assimilate if your digestion is compromised in any way and can help to build strength.
9. My kids don't want to eat veggies. Can juicing help?
Juicing can offer a superb way to ensure better nutrition for your kids. You can start slowly and first juice only the fruits and veggies they already like, such as carrots and pears. Then, over a period of time, add small quantities of other goodies, such as greens.
Be patient and allow them to choose what they want to try next. You can even prepare juice and slip it in as part of a delicious smoothie. They may not even notice this!
You will find that juices can really help them to get close to the ideal 5 to 9 portions of fresh produce a day. Be creative and get them involved. Let them choose names for the 'recipes' they come up with. Soon it will be a fun family event, everyone can share in. You can find more tips for kids here.
10. What about all the fiber we will lose out on?
Of course, you will lose some fiber. Not all of it, but a large percentage. On the other hand, you will gain so much in terms of nutrients, that this doesn't matter. Just make sure that you still eat roughage as well.
You can also find ways to add the left-over pulp back into your diet, such as in muffins, stews, soups, etc. You can come up with lots of tasty ways to make use of it! Why not try these carrot and apple pulp muffins of mine? Yummy!
Five Crucial Things To Remember When Juicing
- It is sensible to consult a health professional first if you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, are nursing, or have any illness. Some juices may not be tolerated well under these circumstances.
- NEVER swallow medication with juice. It can affect the absorption of your meds.
- Make sure that you still include as much fiber as possible in your diet, to compensate for the fiber lost during juicing.
- Certain vegetables are more difficult to tolerate or metabolize. Start slowly and find the combinations that work for you. Beet for example, is extremely potent. The same goes for some of the greens. Introduce these slowly and always in combination with other fruits and veggies, so that they are diluted. Also be careful when giving these to young kids. A little bit goes a long way.
- Store bought fruit and vegetable juices often contain unwanted, unhealthy ingredients. Even if you do find 100% pure juice, the nutrient value will not equal that of freshly made juice. Rather prepare your own if you want to experience the full health benefits.
Juicing should not be seen as a food replacement. No one expects you to give up eating tempting, tasty meals! But you can aim to make juicing a regular part of your family's healthy nutrition plan at home. You will reap the benefits!