There are a great many ideas out there about juicing – what it does and doesn’t do, who should and shouldn’t do it, what juicer to use. There are even people who focus on ‘food combining’, which deals with what foods do and do not mix well together from an enzymatic and digestive perspective. While I will not attempt to tackle the topic of food combining at this time, the other items listed above are sort of need-to-know information for anyone who is interested in juicing, or even for someone who has heard about it but isn’t sure they’re ready to try it yet.
The basic premise of juicing is this – there is a limit to the amount of food you can chew and eat. Juicing breaks down the outer cell wall of the plant and releases the inner ‘guts’ of the cell – the juice. It is here that most of the nutrients are to be found, and juicing allows you to consume these nutrients without having to eat the rest of the fruit or vegetable. The benefit of this is that you can increase your intake of vitamins, but not necessarily have to increase the amount of food you eat.
We all know that vitamins are ‘good for you’, but the reality is that we don’t usually have a great grasp on the relationship between our food and the nutrients it provides. In addition, every ‘new’ health study that someone publishes tells us something completely different. One week coffee is highly addictive (which it actually is) and is being touted as the worst food item for you and the next it’s the best cancer-killing agent out there. Another week broccoli becomes the item of choice – high in calcium and other phytonutrients. A few months later someone else will invariably publish a study saying that it has high levels of toxic mycoproteins that flangellate the insubriate pentarid of the upper gentarium ellipsoid. And since no one knows what the gentarium ellipsoid is, but the article makes it sound like having it flangellated is a really bad thing, everyone starts avoiding broccoli. But when it comes down do it, there seems to be very little new information about nutrition out there that would truly shock anyone who knows many of the basics.
Vitamins as a whole are required for your body to live. If you have a deficiency of any nutrient your body will attempt to compensate, but at some point in time you will get sick. The only way to correct this is by obtaining adequate quantities of that nutrient. I have talked to a good many people who are under the misconception that ‘eating a balanced diet’ is sufficient to obtain these nutrients at adequate doses. Due, in part, to our horrid farming practices as a nation, and the way in which we strip the soil of nutrients instead of replenishing them, as well as the on-demand sale of goods which causes us to pick fruit weeks and weeks early and pretend they are ripe, we eat low-nutrient foods. The density of vitamins and minerals increases as a fruit or vegetable ripens, and short-changing that natural ripening process cheapens the VALUE of the food even if it doesn’t alter the price.
One way to fix this is to take multivitamins, and depending on which one you take, this is a good idea. However, some of these vitamins were created artificially in a lab and the body is not able to utilize them in the same as if they were straight from nature. Other ingredients, such as certain kinds of calcium and iron, are not compounds the body has enzymes to digest, even if the label states that ‘calcium’ is in the product. This means that you have to be choosy not just about your food, but about your multivitamins. Juicing can help solve this problem.
Juicing does a few things all at once. By breaking the cell walls down, as mentioned above, it makes the nutrients readily available. Additionally, because the bulk of the cell walls are not there the body can consume a higher quantity of the juice (much of it is actually just water, which the body can process rapidly). The more juice, the more vitamins. Juicing ALSO causes enzymes to be released into the body in greater proportion. Enzymes are used for most chemical processes in the body, and the number of enzymes limits the quantity and speed that other functions in the body can take place, including digestion. Using the enzymes present in the juice, the body can actually digest and absorb other food even better than normal! Not only that, but the body is able to process foods in liquid form much more easily than solids due to the configuration of the digestive system. Thus, juicing leads to a higher rate of absorption even if the same quantity of nutrients were eaten by normal means. Finally, juicing causes a natural detoxification in the body, removing harmful substances that you didn’t even know were there.
As for who should juice – there are very few people who would be harmed by juicing. Those specialty cases are generally those who have severe hormone imbalances that are freak genetic events, caused by surgery or physically traumatic accidents, etc. This specific and limited group of people may lack certain abilities that a normal human body may possess that would allow for cell repair, and in their cases, depending on the nature of the injury, juicing could significantly worsen their condition, especially if they have a propensity towards toxicity of any vitamins. Diabetics are at risk with juicing, but those risks can be mitigated if done properly and depending on the type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics simply do not have the insulin-producing capacity of a normal pancreas, and truthfully ought to consult an endocrinologist prior to any significant juicing, as this could seriously alter their body chemistry. Type 2 diabetics need to be careful, and also ought to consult a physician, but the risks are greatly reduced IF DONE PROPERLY.
What a Type 2 diabetic needs to know, which doctors will rarely ever tell you, is that Type 2 diabetes is actually curable. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance at the cellular level, NOT by a lack of sufficient hormones produced by the pancreas. This is a dysfunction that is usually linked to obesity and other generalized overload of the body from toxic substances in our environment. Juicing, when done right, will cause the body to lose weight as well as remove these toxins from the body. As this occurs, the body will be able to heal itself, insulin resistance will reduce, and the body may simply cease to be diabetic any longer. While juicing is not a guarantee of this, it is a high likelihood. Type 2 diabetics must pay attention to the quantity of sugars they consume during their juicing process, and it is best if one juice-fasts instead of eating other foods as well, in order to both offset the blood sugar increases and to reduce calories faster (accelerating weight loss). This can be done by choosing juices that are heavy on vegetables but low on starchy vegetables. Fruits are not bad, contrary to popular belief, but it is important to closely monitor blood sugar during this process, and make adjustments to the juice ingredients as needed.
Supplements such as chromium (also chromium picolinate), cinnamon, and broken-cell-wall chlorella can help manage and reduce blood sugar, and can be used during a diabetic’s juicing process to help manage blood sugar levels. As always, this advice is not in any way to take the place of that of a licensed physician, but can be used to help you know what questions to ask. Keep in mind you may need to find a doctor that actually knows something about the subject, as this isn’t something that is really covered in medical school and like the rest of us, doctors are often guessing if they haven’t specifically learned about the subject.
Juicers themselves come in two main types, although there are a great number of companies out there. The two main types are masticating and centrifugal. Masticating juicers basically crush and slow-grind the ingredients in a manner that does not heat them up to the same temperature that centrifugal juicers do. This means they maintain a higher level of enzymes comparatively, as few enzymes are destroyed by the juicing process. This type of juicer is also nauseatingly slow and usually cannot juice large quantities. If someone is planning on juicing a glass or two at a time, and maybe is retired, or really dedicated, or has a ton of free time, or is paying someone else to do it, then a masticating juicer is really a fantastic idea. Even refrigerated, this juice will maintain its benefits longer than a centrifugal-juiced juice. Centrifugal juicers basically spin really fast and shred the food into tiny bits, spinning out the juice from the pulp. They work really fast and usually can juice large quantities of juice at one time. Due to the speed, they do destroy more enzymes than the masticating, but still provide far more benefit than not juicing at all. This juicer is great for those of us who want to be healthy but need to juice larger quantities of juice at one time and who don’t have an hour or more to give to the process every time they want a few glasses of juice. It will require a bit more produce than masticating, as masticating juicers often have slightly drier pulp due to better extraction, but I personally have never noticed a significant difference on a day-by-day basis on the amount of produce used.
Juicing and drinking immediately (read that as ‘drinking within 15 minutes of juicing’) generally will provide the highest benefit, but juicing and drinking within the next day or so will still be healthful. In my person opinion, after 2-3 days have passed you really need more fresh juice, but it is okay to juice a larger quantity and store some in the fridge. My wife and I both work and we don’t have the time (or if we do we aren’t willing to make the time) to juice each glass individually each time we are going to drink juice, so I usually juice a half-gallon at a time and we drink it over the course of about a day. As my wife is on a heavy juice-detox program right now, she is drinking the majority of that juice, and if both of us were drinking heavy quantities we might need closer to a gallon daily between us for our health goals.
We were discussing this the other night and decided to test it out to see what the difference in benefit was between fresh juice and day-old juice. I made some fresh juice and we decided to muscle-test it versus the rest of the juice we had from the day before still sitting in the fridge. Both juices tested positive for us, meaning that our bodies were stronger as a result of touching the juice, but the difference between the day-old and the fresh juice were noticeable! If nothing else, it has made a believer out of me for the juice-and-drink philosophy!
In the end, not everyone will find juicing is right for them. Some find it more expensive, although we have found that the more we juice, the less we spend in food costs. We shop smart to make that happen, but the end result is we pay less. Some will find they can’t or won’t make the time, and others still don’t have the ability due to lack of a juicer or inability to obtain one, or other social constraints which prevent them from juicing. Still others won’t, not for any of the above reasons, but because they are afraid to step out and try something new. If you have any interest in juicing whatsoever, or even just in better health, take that scary step. Borrow a juicer, pick one up at a yard sale, buy one off Craigslist at a discount, but give it a try. If you don’t like the recipes you’re using, try something different. Give juicing a fair attempt – not because juicing is worth it, but because you’re worth it.
And if you have had any success with it, have hints or tips for the rest of us, or even have questions, please comment and share. We’re all partial-experts, and when we share, we all grow.