Juicing is a very hot topic at the moment! It seems that every blog is writing about it, you can find recipes all over Facebook, documentaries are made about it (Have you seen Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead?) and we get asked about the benefits of juicing almost every day! So what is all the fuss about?
Well, as we all know, fresh fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals. They also contain important fibers, enzymes and phytonutrients for maintaining good health. Scientific studies have documented numerous health benefits associated with eating fruits and vegetables, with the greatest benefits seen in people who consume more than the recommended daily amounts.
The USDA recommends 5 – 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily as part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately though, no matter the country or the time frame studied, it has been found that the vital nutrient levels in our fresh fruits and vegetables are rapidly declining. To blame, are modern farming practices which have changed dramatically in the last 50 years to increase yields and profits. Practices such as plant cross breeding and genetic engineering, storage and ripening systems such as green harvesting and gassing as well as the use of chemical fertilizers are just some of the contributing factors. Soil depletion is also a huge factor. In fact, recent studies have shown that the nutrient value of our soil has declined by an average of 20% over the last 20 years and it is continuing to decline. And if it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the plant!
In the 1950’s, a woman could get her daily recommended allowance of Beta Carotene, the main source of provitamin A, from eating just 2 peaches. Today, she would have to eat 53 peaches to get that same amount. Another example is the iron in spinach which has declined by over 70% in the last 25 years and 3 recent studies have shown a median 5% – 40% decline in some minerals in groups of vegetables and perhaps fruits.
But these figures have not encouraged us to increase our consumption. Studies show that the average American consumes no more than 3 servings per day. A classic symptom of the standard American diet (SAD) is being overfed but undernourished. We consume too many empty calories but not enough nutrients to keep our bodies sustained at healthy levels.
A properly nourished body does not have abnormal cravings and is at its physical, mental and emotional best, but without adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, that can be a hard feat to accomplish.
Juicing or Blending?
Here is where juicing and blending comes in. It is such a quick, easy and healthy way to replenish vitamins, minerals and enzymes and to get closer to those 5 – 13 recommended servings a day.
When using a juicer, the juice is extracted from the pulp and so allows us to pack more fruits and vegetables, and therefore more concentrated amounts of nutrients, into just one glass. However, some of the vitamins and minerals are left behind from the skin of the fruits, and pulp has fiber that is beneficial for the body. So sometimes, blending is also a good choice. Therefore, when I get asked “is juicing or blending better?” I respond… “Do both! And as a rule of thumb, juice vegetables and blend fruit.”
Fruit and vegetable juices each have their benefits. Fruit juices are some of the best cleansers for the body and vegetable juices are toning and rejuvenating down to the cellular level. Vegetable juices strengthen the immune system, reduce acidity, fortify the blood, strengthen the organs, nerves and glands. They are also potent cleansers of the digestive tract and blood. Fruits are healthy and tasty when blended into fiber rich smoothies.
Note: When blending fruits for smoothies, always add ice cubes, water or milk (almond, rice or coconut) to dilute the sugar, especially if you have challenges with blood sugar balance.
Here are some benefits of juicing:
- Quicker absorption of nutrients in the fruits and vegetables.
- Easier to get the recommended daily amount of fruits & vegetables as opposed to eating them.
- Ease of adding a wide variety of vegetables to your diet.
- Great way to enhance detoxification.
- Great aid in weight loss.
Vegetable juice is HIGHLY perishable. As soon as the extracted juice is exposed to oxygen, it starts to breakdown; a process called oxidation. So it is best to drink all of your juices immediately after making them. This can pose a problem to those with time constraints. Although not ideal or recommended, you can store them up to 24 hours with only a moderate nutritional decline. Stored juice is definitely better than no juice!!!
Here are a few juice storage tips for retaining maximum nutrient levels:
- Juice should be stored in an airtight container at a temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) or less.
- The storage container should be refrigerated before you fill it with juice.
- To minimize the oxidizing presence of air, the container should be filled to the top.
Tips for those on the go who want to take their juice with them:
- A good quality stainless steel or glass thermos is the better storage option.
- Make sure your thermos has good insulation.
- Cool the thermos in the refrigerator or freezer prior to filling it with juice.
Organic or not Organic? That is the question.
We always recommend organic whenever possible. Especially when juicing. Consider this. When you juice, you get a higher concentration of nutrients because a) you are consuming more servings and b) there is a rapid absorption into the bloodstream. So if this is the case, you are also getting higher and more concentrated amounts of chemical fertilizers into your body. If cost is an issue, at least stick with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.
Also, be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables well. Sometimes you can also consider scraping or peeling them.
Another reason to choose organic, is the question of nutrient value. More and more studies are now showing that organic produce yields higher nutrient levels than non-organic. Take a look at this study for example:
So, as you can see, juicing and blending are completely worthy of all the fuss!
A great way to get started is to start juicing for breakfast; instead of breakfast! Once you get accustomed to that, try implementing just juicing one day a week. If at this point, you love it, consider graduating to juice fasts. Here at Weiser Living, we do a juice fast/cleanse once a quarter for 5 – 7 days. It is an AMAZING way to cleanse the body, increase energy levels and lose some weight. If you are not sure where or how to start, what juicer to buy or even if you would like some help getting started on a juice fast, please get in touch. We would love to help you get started on your juice journey. You can also find several recipes on our Facebook page as well as the recipe section on our website www.weiserliving.com
Although there are benefits of higher levels of nutrition when adding fresh juices to our diet, supplementing with a Real Food Vitamin & Mineral is still very much recommended. Even the Harvard School of public Health and the American Medical Association both say you cannot get enough proper nutrition from your food alone. Studies have found it important to add high quality vitamins and minerals to our diets. When we go on a juice fast/cleanse, here at Weiser Living, we always add a good whole food vitamin and mineral to our daily regimen as well as Weiser Living Paleo Greens to boost our juices.
Next week we will talk about purchasing the right juicer… So stay tuned!
About the Author: Tinna Hawkins is an avid health nut! For the last 13 years, she has been helping people with their health as a Wellness Consultant. She is a strong proponent of clean and nutrient dense foods, juicing, toxin-free personal and home care, an active lifestyle, supplementation and a positive outlook on life! Together with her husband, Dr Budweiser, they own and operate the Weiser Living Wellness Center & Institute.www.weiserliving.com