Juicing, aka drinking freshly squeezed juices has numerous health benefits. The short-term health benefits are increased energy levels and digestive relief. The long-term benefits are prevention of chronic illness, delayed and, in many cases, reversed aging, and improved overall wellbeing and performance.
The more imbalance and disease your body has, the more beneficial juicing is for you. If you acutely require significant amounts of nutrients, juicing is the way to go, because cooking and other food processing destroys the healthy micronutrients by altering their chemical composition and shape. You need to avoid all processed foods and eat organic vegetables and fruits as much as possible.
Medical professionals recommend eating six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day, but in reality, only a small percentage of people eat that amount. Many of those who do, either cook or microwave them, so they are not taking in the necessary nutrients after all. For maximum nutrient retention, the preferred way is to eat the vegetables and fruits raw. But can you imagine eating a huge plate full of raw vegetables? Unless you love to chew, it will be tough, and you probably won’t stick with it for long.
Juicing For Athletic Performance
While you are transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle and regaining your health, complementing your nutrition with fresh juices can be one of the best daily things you can do. When juicing your vegetables and fruits, you deliver far more health-promoting nutrients to your system than you would by eating them straight or preparing them in any other way. It would be very difficult to chew several pounds of raw carrots in a day, but when squeezed into a juice, you can deliver enormous amounts of vitamin A to improve your night vision, healthy skin, and to detoxify the liver. A clean liver efficiently processes all the chemicals we are exposed to daily. The liver is your fat-burning organ, and when the liver is clean, you will lose excess fat if you need to.
Add cabbage to your carrots when juicing. Cabbage protects your body from cancer, boosts your body’s detoxification enzymes, and removes environmental estrogens, which can create a variety of hormone problems and stubborn belly fat.
Greens are an extremely important element in your plant-based diet, because they add a lot of chlorophyll, which is a powerful blood cleanser and blood builder. Chlorophyll has a similar structure to human red blood cells, and adding many raw (uncooked) greens into your diet will deliver the building materials required for the body to produce a lot of fresh blood. You will notice that your endurance and performance will increase after adding many raw greens.
Combining several different vegetables creates delicious flavors and guarantees adequate intake of many health-promoting vegetables that you would never eat otherwise, several times per day. If you add some sweet fruit to your glass, it will taste better than any soft drink. Soft drinks promote and create disease, while the delicious juices and shakes will create health, longevity, and increased performance.
REASONS TO JUICE
- Most people have compromised digestion from all the years of subpar nutritional choices. The body is not capable of extracting and absorbing all the nutrients from the vegetables consumed as whole foods. Juicing will somewhat “pre-digest” the food, so you will absorb all the nutrients better. You may need less juicing when your health and digestion returns back to its powerful state.
- The common recommendations are to eat at least one pound of raw vegetables per fifty pounds of body weight per day, which may feel like a heroic effort if you are not used to eating vegetables. Juicing makes the intake of several pounds of vegetables easy. As you get more accustomed to eating so many vegetables, you may juice less and chew more, because it’s fun to chew after all. Enjoying your delicious meals while slowly chewing will become the highlight of your day.
- We are all people of habit, who like eating the same foods all the time. If vegetables and fruits are already part of our lifestyle, the variety is probably somewhat limited. It is easy to add diversity to your diet through juices. You can be adventurous with vegetables, because even if your juice turns out somehow tasteless, you can always add a sweet fruit to the mixture and it will become yummy again. As you get used to the different flavors while receiving all the benefits of a variety of nutrients, you will develop a habit of buying and eating many different vegetables and it will be easy to maintain that habit once you start preparing your meals in different ways. A new world of culinary deliciousness will open for you.
WHAT KIND OF JUICER?
What kind of juicer should you buy? If you have never juiced before, you may feel a bit uncertain as to whether you will like your new juicing lifestyle, and may not feel comfortable investing big money into a juicer. They range from $30 to $2,000. I would highly recommend skipping the cheapest centrifugal juicers, as they break easily, produce low juice quality, are very loud, and often are hard to clean. You get what you pay for, which in this case is so much hassle that will discourage you from juicing and enjoying the process. I had a cheap juicer before, but I was not motivated to use it and eventually donated it to the Salvation Army and purchased a better one that I love tremendously!
Unless you are already sure that you will be juicing daily and a lot, or if you have a medical condition for which you will have to juice a lot, the mid-range juicer will probably be a good start for you. Choose a masticating juicer with low RPMs. They are quieter, have a great juice yield, preserve many nutrients, and are super easy to clean. I own the Omega 8006, which is excellent, one of the best ones in the mid-range. Newer models are now available and also vertical versions. It is a personal choice, so you decide what you prefer. Other great brands are Green Star, Breville, Super Angel, Green Power, and Samson.
For an inexperienced health nut (maybe that’s you?), juicing may seem like a difficult task. Once you try it a few times, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quick the process is. It is much easier than you thought. The cleaning is simple too, if you do it immediately after juicing. My Omega 8006 is clean in less than three minutes.
Keep in mind that vegetable juices are just an addition to your new plant-based nutrition. They are not staples of your food, rather just a pleasant and super-healthy snack. If you have a more serious health condition, you may need to juice more often, or perhaps all of your meals need to be juices. Once you recover your health, add the juices to the other meals when needed…your body will tell you.
When you start juicing, use the vegetables that you would normally enjoy eating raw or non-juiced. Since you are used to the flavor, you will most probably find your juice delicious. Then start adding some other “adventurous” vegetables to your juices, to increase your comfort level and the nutritional values. Add them slowly into the combination that you already like and get used to the new taste. After a while, add other new and different vegetables. You should feel energized after drinking the juice, not nauseous. If your stomach is making weird noises, it may be that one of your new additions doesn’t agree with your stomach.
My favorite greens are spinach, celery, bok choy, kale, cucumber, and chard of all colors. If you are just starting with juicing, try two ounces of spinach, two pieces of celery, and an apple. You will be surprised at the mild and nicely sweet flavor of your juice. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add a tiny bit of Stevia or honey, and if prefer more sour, add lemon to your juicer.
Once you get used to the flavor of green juice, you can start adding stronger greens, such as kale, chard, and lettuce. Cucumber and cauliflower add mild flavor. Celery is surprisingly mild and earthy. Finally, you can add other vegetables such as carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard greens. Play with adding some spices: anise, ginger, turmeric root, parsley, mint, or cilantro. Only your imagination sets the limits. Well, your taste buds too, but they will get used to the new tastes quickly. Always remember that adding a sweet fruit, such as apple, apricot, nectarine, pear, pineapple, mango, and berries, makes any vegetable juice taste excellent.
After you master a perfect juicing technique, you still may find juicing somewhat time demanding. At times, when you feel rushed, you may want to juice in bulk to save yourself some work and cleaning. Just be aware that the enzymes and phytochemicals are highly sensitive to oxygenation, and their nutritional value will diminish over time. Always drink your juices as fresh as possible. If you really need to save your juice for later, you can store it up to 24 hours if you do it carefully. Store it in an airtight jar with minimum possible air left to prevent oxidizing. As long as you remove the air from the jar by vacuum sealing it, your juice will remain fresh for up to 24 hours.
A note worth mentioning: it is better to drink a slightly aged juice than no juice at all or, even worse, a sugary soda. Don’t stress about the freshness if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to create freshly squeezed juice each time you need it.
Remember to clean your juicer immediately after you are done with the extraction or you will regret it multiple times later. A dried up juicer is not fun to clean. Even cleaning a freshly used cheap juicer can be a chore, but a quality juicer is clean in less than three minutes. Make sure your juicer is cleaned extremely well so mold doesn’t develop and contaminate your future drinks.
CREATIVE AND HEALTHY USES OF THE JUICE PULP
The next question for the juicing beginner is what to do with all the pulp, the delicious fiber extracted from your plants. Since I always feel bad throwing away any food, I tend to be creative and do something edible and yummy with it.
- Add spices that you like, such as pepper, oregano, cumin, marjoram, salt, and create patties from the pulp, which you can bake in the oven or prepare in the dehydrator to eat later.
- Compost the pulp.
- Add some pulp to your pet’s bowl. They will benefit from the extra fiber as well.
- Sprinkle it on salads; add to guacamole, stews, or soups.
- Make a veggie broth for soups and freeze it in small servings.
- Create vegetable crackers and bake them in the oven or dry them in the dehydrator. Similar to the veggie pulp patties, add your favorite spices and some seeds, such as sesame, chia, or flax seeds, and shape thin “patties” that will dry thoroughly and become beautifully crunchy and delicious. The pulp cracker is my favorite late night snack because it is low in calories, high in fiber, and very satisfying.
- Add spices and make a spread for your bread or potatoes.
- Add some of it back into your juice to make it thicker and more filling.
- Add it to your baking, such as carrot cake, zucchini bread, or apple muffins. It will make them moist, healthy and you don’t need to use any fat.
- Make bread with added pulp for moisture and fiber.
- Personally, I love the pulp from apples and carrots, mixed with a bit of lemon juice, honey, or Stevia, adding some water for more moisture, and topped with a few raisins and walnuts. It is the most amazing raw snack you can imagine.
TWO NEGATIVES OF JUICING
We have addressed the many benefits of juicing, but the opponents of juicing have a few valid arguments as well. The standard western diet already contains insufficient amounts of fiber, and now we are extracting the fiber from the vegetables. This is a good point, but we don’t need to discard the fiber. We can use it to create other meals from it. I believe that it is so much better to consume several pounds of vegetables and fruits in the form of juice than not eating them at all. A person on a standard western diet cannot even imagine eating one third of a plate of vegetables, so how would they handle eating several pounds?
Another valid argument is ingesting too much sugar. If you make your juices mostly from fruits—and yes, they do taste delicious—then your sugar intake is most likely much higher than it should be. If you have diabetes or problems with your blood sugar, you need to be aware of this and be careful. However, this is easy to fix. Always make sure that the foundation of your juice is vegetable-based with many green leaves and only add fruits (or just one fruit) as flavor enhancers to make it fruity and sweet.
Not that bad, compared to all the positives, right?
JUICE IS THE CHERRY
Lastly, let us remember that juicing should not be the staple of your diet. Grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits in their original chewable form are the foundation, and juices are the cherry on top.
For athletes, recovery after exercise is one of the major determining factors of athletic success. Reducing the recovery time between your workouts will make a big impact on your overall performance. Using nutrition to your advantage is something you need to think about daily. Adding more vegetables and fruits into your diet is one great step toward your athletic goal, health, and longevity.
Are you intrigued by the amazing power of fruits and vegetables? Do you want to know more how much more you and your athletic performance can benefit?