I am really excited tonight and feel like all-my-Christmases-have-come-at-once, as this afternoon I picked up my new slow juicer. I have been waiting quite a while for the shipment to arrive as it has sat in a container on the docks for a while. But today it is here. And no, it is not a Christmas gift, it just happens that it has arrived right at this time. The juicer I have chosen is a cold-press masticating type.
There is plenty of evidence about the benefits of juicing, provided the juice is prepared in a way that does not destroy the nutrients and enzymes. Juicing plays an important role in detoxing the body, and in facts underpins many natural health plans for the treatment of a wide range of diseases including cancer. But it also makes sense to include it in any plan for healthy living.
One if the main reasons to add home-made juice to your diet is that it can deliver a whopping great punch of valuable nutrients and enzymes quickly and easily, although this depends on the type of juicer it is made in.
You’ve heard this before but micronutrients are quickly damaged or destroyed by heating and cooking. In an ideal world we would all totally avoid processed foods and eat only fresh organic fruit and vegetables. But this is not always possible for lots of reasons. Most of us also make the choice to indulge in foods and drinks that are not health-wise, especially at this time of the year when it can become very difficult to make consistently good food choices.
So why juice?
Dr Mercola sums it up nicely in three points:
Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables
Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner
You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet
And to this I would add that juicing encourages people to eat breakfast. One of the big battles I frequently encounter at work is to get people to reverse their practice of not eating before they leave for work or school – the body is an engine and needs fuel to function!
Most people have poor or impaired digestion, whether they recognize it or not, as a result of prolonged regular poor food choices. For some this is obvious in indigestion, bloating, gas, cramping, or IBS, but for many more the effects are not so apparent. But poor digestion always equates with poor health. Over time it leads to many chronic health problems that range from fatigue to lung and heart problems and include a diverse range of many more. If you are not absorbing nutrients – vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates – your body will simply not function properly. You need each of these nutrients to some degree, and some part of your body will suffer if you are deficient in any one of them.
Poor and impaired digestion results in poor and impaired immune function.
If you do suffer from poor digestion it is well worth taking fresh home-made juice before eating a meal, about twenty to thirty minutes, because the enzymes in the juice will actually act as an aid to help with your digestion. When taken on an empty stomach the juice is assimilated immediately, the nutrients absorbed, and the enzymes able to work efficiently.
The quantity of raw vegetables that we should optimally eat is big. Even the relatively modest amounts recommended by Government bodies are more than most people who come to see me for health advice and treatment regularly eat. Many of these people are in tune with good health requirements (to varying degrees), and eat more vegetables and fruit than most of the rest of the population, but still are not eating enough. Juicing allows you to increase the amount of raw vegetables and fruit that you consume substantially.
If you take a moment to work out what vegetables and fruits you eat you will almost certainly find that you are eating the same ones every day, with a variation thrown in only occasionally. Very few people actually manage to sustain a good rotation of the vegetables they consume. This may lead to a preponderance of some nutrients and deficiency of others in your diet. But one result that is not often appreciated is that it can also be responsible for the development of food allergies and intolerances. When you juice you can create a far more diverse diet because you can add in those vegetables and fruits that you don’t particularly like and so would not normally consume.
I mentioned before that the quality of the juice depends very much on the type of juicer used. The cheaper versions all use a centrifugal action. They are cheap to buy and quick to use. The problem is that their action heats the juice and causes significant nutrient loss. Juice made in these machines oxidizes quickly (in the same way that cut apple turns brown as it oxidizes) leading to free radical damage in your body. If you leave these juices sitting they will turn brown fairly quickly. I guess that if all you want juice for is the taste with no awareness or consideration for the consequence of consuming poor and damaging food then that would not be an issue!
Masticating juicers on the other hand, deliver a cold-pressed product which has not been damaged by being heated.
Bearing in mind that a juicer is an investment – an investment in your health what do you need to look for when purchasing a juicer?
Well firstly you want one that will deliver a high quality juice which is loaded with nutrients and enzymes
Another important factor is how easy it will be to clean, as if this is difficult you simply won’t use it.
A good warranty will ensure that the juicer can handle seeds, skins and cores without burning out.
The factor that really sets the best juicers apart is how much juice they can extract, as in the long run a machine that produces more juice from the same quantity of produce will save you money
Lastly make sure the engine is going to be strong enough to deal with juicing for the family.
One bonus you get from juicers is that you can also use them to make smoothies which are often a great way to retrain your body to eat breakfast. I often get clients to start slowly at reintroducing the practice as once their body gets used to eating in the morning they find they want to eat sufficient and can’t do without. Many who say they can’t eat in the morning find they are ok with a smoothie to start off the ‘re-training’. Another bonus is that it so easy to add superfoods like Spiulina or Chlorella powder, or wheat or barleygrass to the smoothie to really powerhouse your breakfast and get your body fired for the day.
When you choose your vegetables for juicing it is important to remember that any pesticide residues will be concentrated. Choose organic produce wherever you can, but if you need to restrict the amount of organic foods you buy then make sure you select only organic versions of any of the foods that appear on the “Dirty Dozen®” http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary list which is a guide to pesticides in produce for shoppers. There is also a list of the fifteen ‘cleanest’ veges and fruits on that link.
If you, like many parents, are worried about the amount of fruits and vegetables that your kids are eating try them on home made juices from a wide variety of organic vegetables and fruits and know that they are probably getting the nutrients they require.
One drawback from lots of juice in your diet rather than whole fruit and vegetables, is that the fibre contained in the produce is discarded. Insufficient fibre is a common problem in western diets and leads to digestive health problems. Fibre also helps you to feel full and satisfied. In order to stop the development or exacerbation of the very health problems you are trying to fix you need to add the fibre back into your diet via the juice, or else by adding it to soups, stews or salads.
Juicers range in price from very cheap to thousands of dollars. My new masticating juicer cost a few hundred dollars. I know it won’t be as good as the ones I have dreamed of owning but it is quite sufficient to get my family started on this yummy health practice and to get them away from commercial juices.
There are lots of juicing recipes about but you don’t need them as it is good to experiment with your own creativity. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.
Here are some great tips for juicing, including juicing for a large family.
And here is one last hint – Chew your juice, never gulp it down! You will absorb it better when it is mixed with saliva.
Have fun trying out juicing for your household. I’m off to stock up on some fresh organic produce so I can get going.
All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.