There comes a time in your life where you suddenly watch what goes into your body. Mine came around 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, 60 over the border to be exact. So doc put me on a Crestor medication and eventually my cholesterol dropped down to 160.
The thing is Crestor is not good for the liver and has a number of side effects. So in the process I had to look for alternatives to minimize my dependence on this drug.
I first heard about juicing and its benefits through my mom a few years ago and she who would encourage me to drink her apple and celery concoction. I also heard numerous stories on how juicing helped people lose weight, cure certain ailments and in the process improve their overall health and this was the biggest factor on why I started doing this.
In a survey done by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), 57% more Americans want to have a healthier diet and 54% want to achieve a healthier weight. If you have these same goals then juicing can help achieve both.
Juicing has been a craze over the past few years because it has a lot of health benefits that include weight loss, cleansing, cancer prevention and has healing properties that help prevent cellular oxidative damage based on a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But juicing IS NOT a replacement for eating fruits and vegetables, it is meant to be used as a natural dietary supplement because this process removes fiber-rich pulp essential in moving the bowel, attracting cancer-causing carcinogens off the digestive tract. Without enough fiber in your diet, there is a higher risk of constipation or worst colon cancer.
You have to remember that the purpose of juicing is to skip the digestion process and introduce nutrients to your system as quickly as possible to (1) allow the digestive system to rest and (2) fill out the dietary requirements that you might miss out on solid food. Juicing aficionados call this “outsourcing digestion”.
Before You Start Juicing…
…Avoid These Rookie Mistakes
Though juicing has a lot of health benefits, it can cause some serious damage to your system if you don’t do it right.
Mistake 1: Too Much of the Sweet Stuff
Certain fruits and vegetables (to be specific carrots) contain a lot of sugar and when you take out fiber, sugar is absorbed directly into the blood stream that spikes up insulin levels in your system.
While you might think that natural sugar or fructose from fruit isn’t as bad as table sugar, they are actually the same at a molecular level regardless where they come from according to Joy Dubost, R.D. in an interview done by the Huffington Post.
In fact there are some eye opening articles about fructose in fruit and the negative effect it has:
Before you completely disregard fruit in your diet remember that eating TOO MUCH of it is what causes these problems.
Eating and drinking fruit is totally different. When you eat fruit fibers are retained and this slows down glucose absorption whereas drinking minus the pulp results in fructose directly absorbed by the bloodstream. If you drink fruit juice everyday, it can cause issues with insulin in your system that would eventually lead to diabetes.
Again as much as possible your recipe should have more vegetable than fruit. The primary purpose of fruit is to sweeten the drink.
Mistake 2: Including Everything But The Kitchen Sink
This is the perfect case where less is more. Combining the wrong ingredients can lead to stomach aches because of the chemical reactions that occur when certain vegetables are mixed.
Not only that, it could taste so bad (e.g. when you put too much dark green veggies) that you might throw up on the first sip! This why experts recommend people new to juicing to use recipes as a guide before concocting their own.
Mistake 3: Not Enough Variety
On the other hand, using the same ingredients over and over again isn’t helpful as you’ll miss out on nutrients and antioxidants present in other vegetables or fruits that you don’t eat or in this case drink.
This can be EVEN be detrimental to your health because believe or not vegetables have toxins called anti-nutrients that protect it from getting eaten by other animals and digesting these same toxins (even in small doses) every single day will be harmful to your health. So it is very important to mix it up, like they say variety is the spice of life.
Each ingredient in the color spectrum has its own set of vitamins and minerals that our body needs in order to reach its full potential for healthier living. Don’t miss out on this because you have favourites and don’t like certain types of vegetables or fruit.
Mistake 4: Inconsistency
This is the one mistake that I am guilty off and I am sure most people starting out make this same mistake as well. In order to gain the full benefits of natural juice you’ll have to make it a part of your diet every day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come up with a nifty tool that calculates your dietary requirements based on gender, age and average physical activity.
It takes commitment and discipline to follow through here because frankly it takes an acquired taste to drink natural juice every single day (without adding any artificial sweeteners).
An even bigger mistake is not even juicing at all!
Mistake 5: Not Meant to Replace Solid Food
Juice diet or more popularly known as juice cleanse is a hit nowadays particularly with women between 20 – 40 years old looking to detoxify and lose weight naturally but the biggest concern here is whether or not it is safe particularly if you fast and keep your busy schedule as Sarah Bennett found out.
You’ll notice that before starting her juice fast she didn’t prepare her body nor consult a doctor. She also kept her busy work schedule despite knowing that she’ll not eat solid food. The result? Before completing her fast she passed out, threw up and ended up in the hospital. Remember that a juice fast isn’t for everyone so if you’re planning on going through one, give yourself the best possible chance of completing it by preparing your body for it and consulting a doctor.
Fasting is a great way to detoxify our system and juicing helps facilitate this by supplying our body with nutrients it needs in the absence of solid food. Weight loss is a byproduct of fasting because we eliminate processed meat from out diet that contains a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Here are some great articles on how fasting detoxifies the system:
Even though critics say our body already has a built in detox system that automatically flushes out toxins. If our diet consists mainly of meat, it would be difficult to for our system to detoxify because meat is harder to digest and it contains deadly carcinogens that is the primary cause of colon cancer. A juice fast would give our digestive system time to recuperate and rid itself of these deadly substances.
Mistake 6: Not Washing
While prepping an apple the other day I noticed it had a waxy feel to it, turns out that this waxy substance comes from petroleum based pesticides that a lot of farmers use because it sticks better for a longer period of time compared to their water based counterparts. So cleaning produce under running water alone is not enough to remove the waxy feel. I did some research and found out a simple but effective solution – a bowl of water, a cap of apple cider and sea salt. Read more about this solution here.
Here’s another option…
Even if you buy organic produce you still have to wash because human hands touch them during transport and they are also at risk getting pesticide from neighboring farms who don’t grow crop organically.
Here’s a list of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen shoppers guide to pesticide content found in produce.
Mistake 7: Drinking It Too Fast
I hate celery and whenever my mom would make me drink her celery concoction I’ll chug it down as fast as I can.
By drinking it slowly at a relaxed state allows your digestive track to be relaxed as well thus more nutrients is absorbed.
A lot of juice bloggers call this “chewing” your juice. This simply means allowing your tongue to savor the flavour similar to a connoisseur tasting wine. This mixes saliva with the juice that ultimately helps in digestion – experts say that digestion begins at the mouth not in the stomach.
Can I Juice Without A Juicer?
Let’s face it, quality juicers are expensive (they go between $25 to a few grand) and a lot people don’t want to buy one because it has only a single purpose which is juice extraction. So would it be possible to use a blender? Yes it can be done but it is quite bit messy and time consuming because you have to manually separate juice from the excess pulp.
Some experts would even recommend blending fruit and not juice it. Why? So fibers that slow down fructose absorption remain. If you juice fruit, while healthier than drinking a soda might not be a good idea if you have issues with insulin sensitivity because fructose is absorbed directly into the blood stream.
Now if you’re adding fruit to sweeten up green juice then by all means use a juicer.
You could strain out the pulp two ways.
The first option is a nut milk bag as shown in this video…
…Or you could use a really fine strainer like this.
This is whats left after squeezing out all the liquid from the purée.
If you’re new to juicing and like to try it out before investing in a juicer then this would be a viable option.
How Do I Get Started?
First thing obviously is you’ll need a juicer, what type of juicer? Well I’ve prepared a guide for you on how to pick the right juicer. Take note that there is no one size fits all type that’ll work for everyone.
Here are the basics.
There are two main types of juicers – centrifugal and masticating.
Centrifugal juicers work by shedding fruits and vegetables on a rotating disc that spin at high speed (usually around 6,500 to 13000 rpm). Juice flows out of the mesh filter to your cup. Pulp is collected inside the mesh filter. An overflow bin catches excess pulp that falls off.
While it extracts juice faster, the rotating disc creates heat that kills some nutrients and enzymes and it does not yield as much juice as a masticating juicer would. And oh, these types create more noise and consume more electricity so if you juice early in the morning and don’t want to wake up your neighbours go for a masticating juicer.
On the plus side it is cheaper. You can get one for as low as $27 in Amazon but be warned that cheap juicers can break down quicker because they have weak motors that may not be able to cope with the wear and tear of everyday juicing.
Masticating juicers on the other hand crush fruit and veggies instead of shredding them and it typically yields more juice. Since they use very low rpms (Hurom and Omega for example use around 80 rpm) only minimal heat is generated so most of the enzymes are preserved plus they aren’t as noisy and don’t consume as much electricity.
If you prefer juicing primarily vegetables then have a look at these juicers as they are designed specifically for these type of produce.
A good single gear masticating juicer would cost around $220.
Here’s a video on how both these technologies work:
- Centrifugal juicers leave behind a wetter pulp
- Masticating juicers leave a drier pulp
- Juice from a centrifugal juicer is more frothy which means more oxygen is introduced to the liquid that starts the oxidation process quicker (meaning it’ll spoil faster) thus you almost always have to drink it immediately afterwards
- Juice from a masticating juicer almost has no froth which means there is much less oxidation that break down enzymes and it can be stored for longer periods
- Masticating juicers will extract a lot more juice from greens
- Centrifugal juicers are great for hard stuff like apples but won’t work on wheatgrass
- It takes a lot of commitment to juice
You can start off with these simple recipes that have around 3 to 4 ingredients each which makes it much easier to prepare. These recipes are great for beginners because it will allow you to get your taste buds acquainted with the flavour of vegetable juice which typically isn’t palatable.
If you’re new I’d suggest that you try the I’ve concocted some recipes on my own here before concocting your own because combining the wrong ingredients can lead to something really nasty.
Do you have a recipe or juicing story you’d like to tell? Just share it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.