Juicing and juice cleanses are all the rage. I mean you know a trend has gone mainstream when even the Wall Street Journal is writing about it. If you are one of those people who are still skeptical, or new to all this juiciness, here are a few questions you may have:
What are juice cleanses? A juice cleanse usually consists of a certain number of pre-packaged juices, in a specific order for a pre-selected number of days. The shortest recommended time is usually three days, but as seen on the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” they can run for far longer and have wonderful health benefits (if you are in a medical position to do so). Or, they can just last for a day and still work wonders. These are not just any ol’ supermarket-shelved juices where pasteurization kills vitamins, minerals and live enzymes. they are fresh-pressed, raw, unprocessed fruit/veg juices (sometimes with added herbs) sans the pulp and fiber present in a smoothie or whole fruit.
What are the benefits? The main benefit is that you can guzzle oodles of nutrients–probably more than you could ever eat in a day or get in any other form. Because it is pure juice, the nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream rapidly, giving your immune system a boost and feeding your cells with lovely nutrition. Your digestive system gets a day off, too, because there are no solids to break down. What’s so great about that? Well, your vital digestive organs (kidneys, liver, intestines) all get a much-needed rest from constantly working to process everything thrown in your bodies. This downtime allows your body to devote its energy to deep cellular cleaning, which it loves to do (but is too busy to do on a daily basis). Buh-bye toxins! And, a recent study, which evaluated surveys of 500 people on a living foods diet (which includes raw juice), showed amazing health benefits from weight loss to marked improvements in immunity, digestion, allergies, women’s issues, chronic illness, sleep, skin conditions, body odor, eyesight, energy, and overall mental, emotional, and spiritual health. What more could you ask for?
What do these juices taste like? They’re really not as bad as you might think a big tall glass o’ green would be (and actually pretty delicious!). The best juices for you are those loaded with dark leafy greens, which can sometimes be strong. To combat, add in lemon, apples, and even broccoli stems (surprisingly sweet). As with any food, always pay attention to how you feel after you drink up. Experiment with different blends and you’ll find what works for you. Even my kids will taste the juices I make at home.
When is a good time to do a juice cleanse? Anytime you feel like your digestive system needs a rest or a reset. For many, this can mean post holidays or after vacations. It can also act as a great kickstart to a healthier, more conscious way of eating. Seasonally works for me. Some people even dedicate a day a week to reset.
How much weight will I lose? This varies, but remember, a cleanse of any kind can be less about what you are losing and more about what you are gaining: hopefully some perspective as you reset your intentions and work to create better nutritional habits.
How expensive are juice cleanses? They are usually in the $50/day range, give or take (the revelation of this in my house last night caused quite the ruckus). Pricing is high due to many factors: almost 20lbs. of organic veggies a day is what you drink, the cost to produce (labor, hydraulic press), bottle, ship, and so on.
What if I don’t want to cleanse? Can I get the same benefits if I just drink a juice a day? You can for sure get amazing benefits if you make juice a part of your daily practice and life. Greens in general are alkalizing and help to nourish your cells, combating some of the acidity of the standard American diet, composed of foods like sugar, meat and processed and refined goods. When your body is acidic, disease or ailments thrive; your cells and and other parts of the body cannot function optimally. Start with just 12 ounces a day and go from there. I always like to have mine first thing in the morning because your body is able to assimilate whatever you put in it much more than if you ate something first and all of the vitamins and nutrients get absorbed without interruption.
How can I start? There are a plethora of fresh juice options popping up everywhere. And, many companies that will ship (overnight) to you. Check out these sites for more info: juicegeneration.com, blueprintcleanse.com, lovegracefoods.com, organicavenue.com, thejuicepressonline.com. To juice at home, explore different juicer options and find one that works for you both economically and functionally. The two main types are centrifugal (fast, a bit more oxidation, but a quality juice if you drink right away, less juice, sometimes a pain to clean), and masticating (uses a single gear to break up fibers/cells for a high quality juice, slower but gets more juice so less waste, great for wheatgrass, more expensive). Right now I have a centrifugal Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite, which totally gets the job done, Although not the most efficient at extracting the most juice, it’s super-simple to operate and parts can always be thrown in the dishwasher to clean.
Juicing really is a fabulous way to add lots of vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals to your diet, especially if you aren’t eating as many fruits or vegetables as you should be. Give it a whirl and let us know how you feel!
Photo Credit: Fady Habib