No one can argue against the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, but what about drinking them? Juicing, the latest healthy living trend to hit the mainstream, has many people filling their grocery carts with a multitude of produce.
Fruits and vegetables are treasure troves of antioxidants and other phytonutrients, but Americans don’t even come close to consuming the recommended number of three to six servings per day. In fact, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control show that 75 percent of adults eat vegetables fewer than three times per day. Maybe drinking veggies isn’t a bad idea after all.
Joanna Hiller, a certified holistic health coach with It Girl Health, says that juicing is a convenient and delicious way to add fruits and vegetables and their powerful plant-based nutrients to a diet. While researching alternative methods for clearing up her skin, Joanna came across some information about juicing and how raw vegetable juice could help with hormonal imbalances. “My face had started to break out, so I decided to give it try,” she says. “In just a few days my skin began to clear up, and I had more energy — I was hooked.”
Juicing is an easy way to load up on nutrients and balance out the acidity that pervades so much of regular diets, Joanna says. Veggies like kale and beets cleanse and nourish the body. “Juicing shouldn’t be confusing,” she says. “My best recommendation is to learn the basics and start out using simple recipes.” She also cautions against running out and buying the most expensive juicer on the market. “My simple Jack LeLanne Juicer has been reliable. Experiment with basic juicers until you decide if juicing will become a part of your life.”
Her Hot to Trot juice recipe features beets as the star ingredient. “You can’t go wrong with beets,” she says. “They not only cleanse the body but have amazing blood boosting properties.” She recommends juicing as an additional supplement for clients who have weakened immune systems.
Fresh pressed juices should contain mostly green vegetables with few fruits. The primary sugar found in fruits is fructose. While it’s better than high fructose corn syrup – a recent invention by the food industry with a long list of evils – fructose still is a simple sugar. Glucose, another simple sugar, is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells, but the liver doesn’t easily process large amounts of fructose. It’s best to eat fruits more often than drinking them to regulate your consumption.
Joanna cautions her clients about juicing with fruits only. “Fruits are more calorie dense than vegetables. And despite the perception that fruit juice is more nutritious than water, replacing your daily water requirements with fruit juice can actually work against you,” she says. “Focus on vegetables as much as possible. Too much fruit juice can often cause imbalances in the body, leaving you feeling less than great.”
There’s a lot of chatter over whether to juice or blend, which is really the difference between juices and smoothies. Mary How, an art therapist with Angelfish Creations, started juicing several years ago for better health. “While I juice as part of a fast several times a year, I prefer smoothies because they’re easier to make, and I get the benefit of the fibrous pulp,” she says.
Juicing involves pushing produce through the chute of a juicer that removes the insoluble fiber, while smoothies are made in a blender using the whole fruit or vegetable. Many health professionals caution that by taking out the fibrous pulp, juicers miss out on the cleansing effect that fiber has on the bowels. Fiber is the body’s chimney sweeper, assisting in eliminating waste.
Mary says controlling her type I diabetes is another reason she prefers vegetable smoothies over juicing. “Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, which improves my blood sugar levels,” she explains.
Those in favor of juicing say enzymes, vitamins and minerals are digested and assimilated within 10 to 15 minutes after consumption. Liquid flows directly to the small intestine because there is no fiber to slow absorption. They believe that fresh juice – sometimes called a liquid vitamin – is used almost entirely by the body for regeneration of cells and tissues with little effort on the part of the digestive system.
Joanna says that adding a serving of juice to a well-balanced diet is beneficial. Juice and smoothie recipes should promote leafy greens and bright orange and red vegetables, all of which are often lacking in the American diet.
Joanna recommends eating favorite vegetables in their most whole form and juicing or blending vegetables that aren’t enjoyable. For example, kale is one of those vegetables either favored or disliked because of its strong earthy taste. Joanna suggests offsetting the kale with a sweet or tangy fruit. Her Morning Wake Up Call recipe (see page 22) includes cucumber, kale, lemon, green apple, orange and cilantro. “Adding ginger, lemon or an apple lightly sweetens or spices up vegetable drinks,” she explains.
Dr. Shelly Jones, owner of Chiropractic Wellness Center and a long time juicer, advocates fresh vegetable juice to her patients because of the benefits of whole food nutrition. Eating healthy, whole foods is the best way to support the body’s healing process from disease and fatigue.
“The health benefit of regularly consuming vegetable juice is that the food is minimally processed so you can more easily consume it and your body can absorb the nutrients quicker,” she says. “The better your nutrition, the better the ability your body has to create new cells. By adding nutritious juice to your diet, you have a much better chance of a deep healing.”
She admits that the process of expressing the juice can be time consuming, so she has found a few quality sources for fresh vegetable juices in the area. One of those is Crawford Pressley, owner of Loosh Culinaire Fine Catering. He stumbled upon the art of juicing after watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” a 2010 documentary that follows Australian Joe Cross as he embarks on a two-month juicing fast while driving across the United States. “It was amazing to see this man lose 100 pounds and regain control of his failing health by juicing,” Crawford explains.
In addition to increased energy and vitality, Crawford says that he noticed a visible difference in his skin while juicing. “The benefits are remarkable, but cleaning the machine, recycling the pulp and doing it all over again the very next day made it difficult to sustain long term.”
This prompted Crawford to invest in a commercial juicer that would allow him to make larger batches. “I started bottling and selling to friends who juiced, and the demand has really begun to increase,” he says. Packed with cucumber, tomato, celery, carrot, green apple, spinach, kale and lemon, his Loosh Juice is made on Tuesdays and delivered the same day. Shelly looks forward to her Tuesday delivery of fresh juice and says that a half gallon at $20 is a great bargain.
Many juice advocates practice occasional fasts to give the digestive system a rest. The basic idea behind fasting on juice is fairly straightforward: purge the body of toxins by flushing in pure vegetable and fruit juices. Sharon Wright, co-owner of Good Life Café in West Columbia, recently finished a 20-day fast to cleanse her body and to feel better. “A juice fast simply restarts my body,” she says. “After my 20-day fast, I lost 18 pounds.”
Sharon thinks that juice fasts can be beneficial if done correctly and for the right reason. “People juice fast for a variety of reasons – for increased energy, to detoxify the body and to rid the body of specific ailments. I’ve had customers who’ve decreased symptoms of illness or eliminated them all together by practicing a juice fast,” she says.
“Timing is everything,” she says. “Juicing during the holidays or vacation is not a good idea, but before and after are definitely good ideas.”
“How to Survive a Juice Fast” is her free introductory class on fasting, which will be offered April 8. Fresh pressed juice can be picked up at her West Columbia location. The vegan café and juice bar specializes in enzyme-rich raw foods and juices that change with the seasons. The menu boasts 30 various juice offerings including the Red Hot, Spring Cleaning, Morning Blast and the V-7. Patrons along Columbia’s Main Street will soon have the opportunity to purchase fresh pressed juices when a new Good Life Café location opens at 1614 Main St. by mid-June.
The bottom line is to keep an open mind when experimenting with juicing. Try new combinations of vegetables and fruits. Always make an effort to use local and seasonal produce. And be prepared for an increase in energy and an increase in health. Happy juicing!
Morning Wake Up Call Juice
By Joanna Hiller
5 kale leaves
1 green apple
1/2 orange or grapefruit
Press through juicer. Makes 16 ounces.
Hot To Trot Juice
By Joanna Hiller
1 inch ginger (peeled)
1 cucumber or 2 stalks celery
Press through juicer. Makes 16 ounces.
Green Drink Recipe
By Dr. Shelly Jones
1/2 cup fresh organic spinach, washed
1/2 cup fresh organic kale (like lacinato kale), washed
2-inch cut of organic English cucumber
palmful of strawberries or blueberries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup coconut water or aloe vera juice (optional)
1/2 cup apple juice or fresh organic apple (optional)
1 to 2 stalks organic celery, washed (optional)
serving of protein powder (optional)
serving of spirulina or chlorella powder (optional)
Mix all in blender or express through juicer. Makes 1 to 2 servings.
For more info on juicing, visit these websites:
It Girl Health
Chiropractic Wellness Center
Good Life Café