Health & Fitness: To Juice or Not To Juice

The juicing craze has officially taken the health world by storm with millions of people becoming more awakened to the benefits of juicing. Celebs have been spotted with colorful green drinks made of collard greens and kale while sales for juicers like the Nutribullet and Vitamix have gone through the roof. Even smoothie chains like Jamba Juice and Robeks have hopped on the healthy juice bandwagon and now offer healthy fruit and vegetable juices in addition to their usual yogurt and high fructose corn syrup offerings. But is juicing just a new health fad or can this have a significant effect on your health?

Approximately 95% of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need are found in fruits and vegetables, and therefore almost every authority on health and nutrition recommends getting 6-8 servings a day. In our multitasked and overscheduled lives, getting the amount required can be especially challenging, so juicing is a great way to increase the chances of reaching that daily target. Also, because certain micronutrients can become damaged as foods are heated, juicing has become an alternative method when consuming daily nutrients. Juicing helps to absorb the nutrients from fruits and vegetables and is a great way to add a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet.

When you drink a healthy juice, essential nutrients enter the bloodstream and the body absorbs all the benefits of the raw fruits and vegetables. Fresh juice also contains vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for optimal health. The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in fresh fruit and vegetable juices also help protect against heart disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Important compounds called flavonoids and anthocyanins are in many fruit and vegetables which can guard against signs of aging. In addition, juicing helps with weight loss, increases energy levels, leads to increased immunity and great skin.

The benefits of drinking freshly juiced fruits and vegetables are endless and it’s a great way to add nutrients you may not normally eat. I’m not saying that juicing in itself is better than eating whole fruits and veggies, juicing them just makes it easier to consume on a regular basis.

Making your own vegetable juice at home requires the use of a juicer that uses special blades that can finely chop up your fruits and vegetables and then blend them into a smooth liquid. As far as equipment goes, it’s best to start with a mid-priced juicer. Get one that’s relatively fast, easy to clean, and a little less expensive than the higher end ones. With these newer more user friendly juicers, it’s actually easier to start juicing now than ever before.

Make sure to wash your veggies thoroughly before juicing to remove any dirt, pesticides, or bacteria. It’s best to choose organic if in fact that is an option. Everything doesn’t have to be organic, only items that are known to be laden with pesticides like apples and celery. Because dangerous bacteria like E. Coli can live on your food, make sure you clean them thoroughly before juicing.

Try having a large glass of juice in the morning, with your meal, or as an in between snack. If you’re engaging in a juice cleanse, make sure your body continues to get a sufficient amount of calories, vitamins, nutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Start with some great tasting ingredients like spinach, pineapple, and mango; add a little water and ice, and you’re on your way to a great tasting juice. Here are a few juice recipes:

1. Kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, green apple

2. Romaine lettuce, pineapple, lime

3. Kale, banana, almond milk, avocado

4. Green apple, kiwi, lime, celery, honey

5. Spinach, cucumber, celery

6. Spinach, mango, lemon, cucumber

7. Collard greens, mango, pineapple, coconut water, lime

8. Romaine lettuce, banana, blueberries, almond butter, almond milk

Happy juicing!

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