Raise your hand if you're a juice fan!
In all fairness, I'm writing this from the perspective of a girl who isn't a juicing fan other than a few days of some celery juice and I have stopped that too. For me, it's too sweet or too intense. I get nauseous and I struggle with my blood sugar dropping faster than the ball on New Year's Eve. For others, they feel energized and swear by juices. Juicing is boasted by celebrities, some health professionals, yogis and fitness buffs all over the place as a way to lose weight, get healthy, and detoxify your body. Let's take a few minutes to talk about the positives and negatives of juicing and, if you choose to try it, the approach you should consider taking because there are definitely some benefits and some precautions you want to consider before starting.
First, let me cover the obvious question for those of us who aren't familiar with juicing. What is juicing anyway?
Lets be clear that juicing is NOT buying commercial juices like a carton of OJ or a bottle of apple juice. If you're considering trying to add juicing to your diet, that will 100% not work for you and I'm just saying NO right now. Okay? Okay...
Juicing is the process of separating the juice of vegetables from the fiberous portion. If health class is long since out of your head, those two parts of of a fruit or veggie do very different things. To begin, fiber doesn't carry nutritional value. It carries digestive value (a ton of it!) Think of it as the street sweeper of your innards. Fiber helps clean up your digestive track and it keeps you feeling full. Fiber does not contain vitamins, minerals or calories. Those three necessary components come from the juice of the fruits or vegetables that you use to make your juices. This is where the high concentration of vitamins and minerals come into play.
The process is relatively simple. You can purchase a juicer or use a blender that will pulverize your food down to a liquid form and create any number of combinations of juices from Kale and green apples to banana and spinach. Often times, people are a little gaggy over the fiber that is left in the juices (especially celery) after everything is chopped and blended so they will strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer or through cheesecloth or a nut bag. If you're good with the pulp in the juice, it is TOTALLY okay to drink it. In fact, I would encourage you to keep it in there - others would tell you that you're making a smoothie and not juice but whatever. Fiber is good for you.
Before running out and purchasing a juicer, you really need to consider your end goal and your current health status.
Why do you want to juice?
Did someone tell you its great for detoxing? Losing weight? Curing a disease? There has to be a reason you're wanting to give juicing a go. Once you know your reason, you'll be able to design the juices that might be best suited to help you achieve your goal but DO NOT just start guzzling homemade juice because your bestie at yoga told you how much she loves her kale and grapefruit juice. You are not him/her! Your body is your own and eating the amount of vegetables and fruits required to make 8-10 oz of juice could seriously mess you up! For example, the Vitamin K content in the amount of kale necessary to make a glass of juice (4 1/2 cups) can be life threatening to those who take anti-coagulant medications to treat blood clotting issues, tax your kidneys to the point that they stop functioning if you have a kidney issue due to the extraordinary high amount of Vitamin K, and mess with your thyroid and cause hypothyroidism. Grapefruit is a notorious no-no for people who take statins for blood pressure, some anxiety medications, immune suppressing medications, antihistamines, etc.
Obviously not everyone who makes a kale smoothie is going to drop dead later in the day but there is much caution that needs to take place when you're planning what kinds of organic vegetables and fruits you want to use. Be sure to do your research because you're going to be drinking several servings of them in each 8 oz glass which will mean stocking up next time you're at the store.
But I want to lose some weight and I love juice!
Okay, you love juice but what kind of juice do you love? If you remember, I mentioned that we aren't talking about bottled or boxed orange juice or grape juice and if you're expecting that sort of taste or consistency, you're in for a surprise. The juices you drink when actually juicing need to be, organic and freshly pressed, and will likely be thicker, all without adding any sugar. The sugar in fruit alone adds the sweetness. If you're looking to lose weight from juicing, you'll be focusing mostly on vegetable juices and very little fruit due to the calorie difference between a pound of spinach (104 calories) and a pound of bananas (404 calories) or a pound of apples (237 calories ). When looking to juice for weight loss, you want to choose low sugar fruits to keep your calories down and your blood sugar as stabilized as possible or to choose vegetables for juicing. Some of the recommended juices for weight loss include carrots, cabbage, watermelon, cucumber, or celery. You can also go for pineapple but remember that is higher in calories so I would recommend adding it to a more vegetable based juice. Recommended on Lose Weight By Eating, you can find several juicing recipes that are similar to the top detox recipe.
Ultimate Green Detox Juice Ingredients:
2 organic green apples, cut in half
3 stalks organic celery, no leaves
1 organic cucumber
8 leaves organic kale
1/2 organic lemon, peeled
1 piece fresh organic ginger
Sprig of mint (optional)
Put all of these ingredients into your juicer after you have removed the peels and follow the instructions on the juicer.
I think it is really important to note that this detox is only recommended for 7 days by the website and that while you will likely, you will also be losing the protein and fiber your body needs to function properly! As with any "diet" (I hate that word) anything extreme or overly restrictive is often temporarily awesome and ends up leaving you worse in the long run. My recommendation is to supplement your diet with fresh juices if you like the taste and the way they make you feel but to always consider what else your body might need and other ways you can achieve lasting, healthy weight loss or health goals. If you don't know where to start, I'm always happy to help. Schedule a Ditch the Diet Breakthrough Session and we'll figure something things out on how you can get started.
Do I really need organic?
If you are looking to detox your body which some would argue doesn't need to happen anyway because your liver has that covered, then yes. I'm all for organic whenever economically possible and when the items are in stock but for a detox, you want to literally detox and that means the pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on non-organic fruits and vegetables.
Why is juicing better than eating the whole fruit or vegetable?
Part of the point of juicing is to up the quantity of vitamins and minerals you are eating by eating them raw. Cooking removes some of the nutrients from produce so pressing them into a juiced form allows you to consume large quantities of the foods in one glass. I don't know a lot of people who will sit down and eat two apples, 8 leaves of kale, half a lemon, three stalks of celery and a piece of ginger for breakfast. For the quantity of organic produce you will need to purchase to make juice for the detox mentioned above, you just simply eat
Organic celery stalks (alkaline food that prevents calcium deposits, relieves arthritis, lowers blood pressure, assists with migraines, rids kidney and gall stones, etc.)
topped with some hummus (fiber and protein)
and chili powder (supports healthy eyes, assists in red blood cell formation, improves cognitive function, fights infection, aids weight loss, etc.
Or you could grab
An organic apple (aids weight loss, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, treats anemia, etc.) ,
some natural peanut butter (healthy fat and protein),
and cinnamon (relieves menstrual cramps, fights cancer, reduces blood sugar, strengthens, cardiovascular system, reduces blood pressure).
The combination of fiber, fat, proteins and carbs will keep you full longer, your blood sugar balanced, and your appetite satiated.
Finally, I talked in my ebook 15 Favorite Herbs and Spices to Boost Your Health about different herbs and spices that you can use to boost your immunity and treat symptoms and/or diseases. (DISCLAIMER: If you are ill, see your doctor FIRST and then use the herbs and spices as recommended by your doctor, nutritionist, etc.) You can also use different veggies or fruits to give you boost, just as you would the herbs, spices or any essential oils you might have.
There certainly are some health benefits in juicing and I firmly believe that upping your organic fruit and vegetable consumption is never a bad choice. On the flip side, there is also a need for caution if you are diabetic, have kidney disease, or you take certain medications. You can also catch a nasty case of food poisoning or diarrhea which, personally, leaves me firmly in the whole foods fan club. Never mind that I don't enjoy sweet drinks (sweets are for baked goods) but anytime I've ever tried any sort of juicing I end up not feeling well shortly after with a stomach ache and a huge nose dive into the meat drawer. The celery juice I wrote about awhile back did help my Miniere's symptoms but the blah feeling I had after wasn't worth the result. I needed a lot more to make that worth it.
I know a lot of you reading this may be juicing pros and I would love to know your experiences and opinions. Do you have any insight or recipes to share? Hit me in the comments and let me know what I'm doing wrong or what I am missing in the process.