The word “juicing” is now tossed around on the daily from Dr. Oz to Oprah to LeBron’s wife, Savannah Brinson, the owner of the Juice Spot here in Miami (my fave!), but what’s the down and dirty on it?
Juicing, as defined by the Mayo Clinic is an “[extraction] of the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables. The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit.” Essentially, juicing takes out all the liquid and leaves all the fiber behind. I know you’re thinking, “isn’t fiber healthy?” “don’t we need fiber to keep things moving along?” “doesn’t fiber help me to feel fuller longer?” “doesn’t our body naturally cleanse itself?” – all good questions, and the answer is YES to all of them! BUT, there are some benefits to this whole juicing craze, which I would like to discuss now.
First and foremost, you do get all vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables from juicing, in addition to all the liquid (water), which helps to keep you hydrated. In a research study published in the March 2014 issue of The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it was confirmed that consuming 7 servings of fruits and veggies daily cuts the risk of premature death by a whopping 42%! How do ya like them apples?? If you’re not a huge fan of fruits and veggies, occasional juice cleansing or a daily juice is a great way to get all those health benefits into your diet and give you a greater chance of making it to Willard Scott Smucker’s 100 year old birthday label.
Secondly, our bodies (mainly our liver and kidneys) are made to naturally cleanse and detox us. However, these organs were developed back in the day, way before toxic chemicals were added to our foods as preservatives, dyes, flavor enhancers, etc. By partaking in a short 1-3 day (any longer is not recommended by health professionals) ORGANIC cleanse, you are truly enabling your body to take a break from the chemical world. The consumption of chemical-less, clean fruit and vegetable juice allows for the liver and kidneys to detox what they were made to detox: our bodies and their natural wastes.
My third talking point, and the main reason I cleanse, is cycle breaking! While I tend to eat healthy foods, limit my inflammatory food consumption, and choose organic over conventional products, I am also completely capable of getting stuck in a food/eating rut. Too many dinners out, grabbing a quick protein bar or protein shake vs. a meal, or going home to visit my parents and eating all the delicious unhealthy food that New Jersey has to offer leaves me in an eating rut and not feeling all that healthy. For me, a simple 3 day juice cleanse consisting of 6 organic juices a day – I may even add the occasional steamed veggies to it – resets my system; it reminds me how good it feels and how good I feel when I eat healthy.
A nice added benefit to all of the above is that you get hydrated! Living in sunny South Florida and being exposed to the heat (we sweat to stay cool!), drinking copious amounts of caffeine, and eating the high-salt diet that the US is known for leaves us dehydrated! According to the US Geological Survey Water Science School, the average human adult is 60% water and that water serves multiple functions including: being a vital nutrient to every single cell, regulating body temperature, helping our bodies to use carbohydrates and proteins effectively, flushing waste, acting as a shock absorber for our nervous system, making saliva, and keeping us with well-“oiled” joints. So if an occasional juice to a 1-3 day juice cleanse is the only way you’ll hydrate, then I say drink up!
So even though you’re going without fiber for that single juice or your entire 3-day cleanse, the benefits of juicing are clear. As with any dietary change, make sure your Doc is on board and ensures that you are healthy enough to cleanse. Also, try not to exceed that 3-day mark because we are made to subsist on solid foods and not just juice. Juices can also be loaded with sugar (depending on what you juice), so exceeding 3 days can lead you with a sugar, and therefore caloric, overdose.
Stay tuned for my next post about what to juice, the particular benefits of certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and some of my fun and favorite recipes!
For some of the science behind all of this, please visit the following websites:
By Alix Terpos PT, DPT