You likely know that you should eat the recommended minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. What I like to tell my patients though is to shoot for optimal levels of between 7-12 to get the most anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals you can from food sources.
Now, to a lot of my patients, that sounds like a lot of fruit and vegetables to eat every day. However, what I recommend is to take several servings of fruit and vegetables and combine them together in a blender and juice them!
The idea of juicing raw fruits and vegetables and drinking them instead of cooking and eating them has been around for some time, but many people think it takes a lot of extra time and work to prepare your fruits and vegetables this way. In reality, it takes much less time than cooking and has several added bonuses that I’d like to tell you about.
The Benefits of Juicing For Optimal Health
If you go into a store you may look at the price of juice products that contain several servings of fruits and vegetables and would be correct to wonder if it was worth the price for one bottle! The product may have been sitting on that shelf for some time and likely has lost a lot of its nutrient potency. In today’s economy, getting the most nutrition for our money is critical. That’s where juicing your own vegetables and fruits come in. Here are some important benefits I’d like you to consider about juicing your own produce:
- Juicing of fresh produce contains concentrated enzymes that are essential to digestion, metabolism and converting the food you eat into the nutrition your body needs to thrive.
- Fresh juicing contains concentrated amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants that are nature’s “doctors” that boost your immune system by killing free radicals, regulate hormone levels, and fight disease.
- Juicing fights aging and depression by supplying higher/concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals, like the B vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, etc, that preserve skin and muscle integrity and boosts mental well being.
- Juicing can be custom-tailored to target certain health issues, like weight loss, heart health, general detoxification, by combining produce containing specific nutrients.
- Juicing allows you to absorb larger quantities because the digestion period is much faster than trying to digest the solid food.
How To Juice
There are a lot of good “how-to” guides out there on juicing machines, recipes for combining fruits and vegetables, and storage techniques, but I’d like to give you a few basics that will allow you to get started juicing, hopefully, today!
Blenders/juicers: There are many blenders and specific “designer juicers” you can buy if you’d like, but you really only need a good, simple food blender that has several function buttons on it that chop, grind, grate, liquefy, mix, blend. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from a department store that sells kitchen utensils.
How Much/What: First, be sure you wash all produce thoroughly with either a special fruit/vegetable wash bought in the produce department, or a good produce scrubber. Keep in mind that about 1 lb of produce produces about 8-10 ounces of juice. Keep your juice blend base about 80% dark green and red vegetables like kale, spinach, carrot, broccoli, tomato, radish, purple cabbage, beet root, parsley as these vegetables are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals and are very low in sugar/carbohydrates.
Add to that vegetable base some fresh fruit flavors to sweeten like apple, cherry, oranges, strawberry, red plums, banana, whatever you wish, and experiment to your specific taste. Carefully remove orange rinds and banana peels, before juicing so as not to disturb the white cellulose fiber layer around the fruit. This layer contains a lot of necessary fiber and other nutrients. Vitamins are concentrated just beneath the skin of the fruit, so leave on apple skins or pare them off very thinly. Add about 8-10 oz of cold, filtered water to your blender and add your produce. You may need to use the chop or grate buttons first to break down produce into much smaller pieces and then your blend or liquefy buttons.
I feel it’s important to keep your juices primarily vegetable with fruits used sparingly for taste to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels (important for diabetics) that can occur with high fruit based juicing. Juicing is pretty much an individual taste system and you may find you need to modify particular recipes with more water, more fruit, etc. I prefer my juices with the pulp left in, but you may want to strain it out by pouring it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. You can even add a few tablespoons of protein powder to your juicing if you like.
When To Drink Your Juicings: The best time to drink your juice blends is on an empty stomach at least 30-45 minutes before a solid food meal to allow your body to absorb the nutrients from your juice. Or, if you prefer, your juicing can be consumed about 2-3 hours before bedtime. Juicings contain a lot of Vitamin C and some people can be sensitive to the stimulating effect of Vitamin C, so best to schedule it several hours before bed.
Easy High Nutrient Juice Sample: If you want to try juicing before investing in a new blender, recipes, etc, here’s a quick and nutritious juice blend you can make to get you started with juicing. In a regular food blender, add 1 carrot, 1 apple (I think green gives the best flavor, with or without skin), tomato and/or cucumber. If you find tomato too acidic for you, leave it out, or substitute a red plum. Add 10 oz of fresh filtered water. Mix on the blend button until all produce is liquefied. Enjoy!
Juicing fruits and vegetables is a very healthful way to get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that cooking can partially destroy. I hope I have inspired you to at least try to take some of your vegetables/fruits in this raw fashion. Once you try juicing, I feel certain you’ll want to continue it as the immediate energy and nutrient burst it gives you is a healthy habit you won’t want to do without!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.