Juicing 101

From Juice cleanses to the benefits of juicing, there is no doubt that this is one of the most popular topics in the health world right now. Is it really the best way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption? What equipment do you need? Here it is:the ultimate guide-welcome to Juicing 101.

What is juicing exactly? If you think that drinking a glass of orange juice from a carton counts, think again! Juicing is the process of extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables. It can be done as part of a diet or cleanse or simply now and again to make a refreshing,healthy drink. There are different methods for doing this, some more efficient than others.

In fact, the basic principals of juicing have been around for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years with evidence showing that people were extracting and drinking the liquid from fruit and vegetables in biblical times.

Gerson-A Controversial Approach

One group who have certainly contributed to the popularity of juicing recipes are those who follow the controversial method that is Gerson therapy. If you aren’t familiar with this, it is a system developed by Max Gerson, a German-born therapist.

This is a particularly extreme approach that involves juicing (as well as coffee enemas, so that should give you some idea what you are dealing with!) Gerson therapy provokes strong reactions from the medical community but is staunchly defended by others. Perhaps the main reason for the controversy is that its proponents tout it as a cure for various forms of cancer.

Health Benefits

So just what are the health benefits? Well, it does depend who you ask! Some people swear by vegetable juices while others simply swear at them! Depending on how extreme a path you take, it is without a doubt a good idea for all of us to consume more fresh juice as opposed to soft drinks or stuff from containers filled with sugar and artificial ingredients. If you do your own juicing, you can guarantee that you are using fresh produce with all its vitamins and minerals intact.

The only thing that is important here is to use it as quickly as possible. Levels of those precious vitamins will start to drop fairly quickly so most people juice and drink immediately rather than storing in the fridge. Modern machines make this easy to do and some actually increase the lifespan of what is produced.

Controlling blood sugar is a common aim for juicing diets. Green juices are far lower in sugar than most other things that you might drink. It will certainly help avoid those energy spikes and crashes that are so common when your diet is filled with processed foods that will play havoc with blood glucose levels. However natural sugar in the form of fructose is still very much present.

Some experts also push these real fruit juices as a weapon in the fight against everything from heart disease to high blood pressure. This can be slippery ground because any claim needs to be backed up by some pretty in-depth studies. What does seem to be obvious, even to the lay person, is that juicer recipes offer an easy way of combining great tastes into a nutritional powerhouse. This can only be good news as we fight against the dangers of fast food and chemically-enhanced agriculture.

Weight Loss

Of course one of the key reasons why people might try fruit and vegetable juices in the first place is to reduce their waist size. Once again, while it really is a smart tool to use, its effectiveness is going to depend on what else happens in your diet and exercise regime. Juicing for weight loss on its own is not the perfect solution.

Unfortunately, some are going to see fruit juices as a sort of miracle cure for a terrible diet and no exercise! Worse still, others are going to take something absolutely bursting with healthy ingredients like green leafy vegeatables and then add processed sugar and flavorings to the final result. “Hey! This juicing thing sucks! I’ve actually put on 10 lbs!” Really? I’m amazed.

However, if you are keeping an eye on your food and getting enough exercise, adding in some quality, fresh fruit and veggies is perfect for weight loss and there is surely no easier way to do this than in the form of vegetable juice. It should improve everything from skin tone to digestion and will make sure that your body is working to get rid of all those toxins that encourage body fat storage. So whilst it isn’t the only solution, it should make the rest of your weight loss efforts far more productive, which can only be a good thing. It will also compensate for any nutritional shortages which can happen on a limited calorie diet.

Which Type of Juicer Do I Need?

So we’re ready to go. Jus throw everything in the juicer and….. Hold on! As soon as you start to look for your first machine, you will quickly realize that there is a lot of choice out there. What makes one model better than another? Why is there such a difference in price?

All juicers aren’t created equal. This shouldn’t come as surprise because it is true for all kitchen and household equipment from televisions to washing machines. The price is going to depend on the brand and the build quality/materials, but also on the method that the machine uses to make your morning green juice.

There are essentially four types of juicers that you could consider.

-The Blender or Mixer.

Many homes are going to be equipped with this already. You probably use it for everything from soups to cake mix. The advantages are clear. It is easy to use, doesn’t cost much and you might well already have one in your kitchen.

On the down side, this isn’t actually a juicer at all! It lacks the key element that makes juicers what they are: the separation of the liquid from the solid pulp. Now, this doesn’t make a blender a bad thing at all. I love making green smoothies and that pulp provides lots of healthy fiber. But it doesn’t make juice that you might need for juice fasting for example.

-Centrifugal Juicers

These are the most common models on the market and tend to be the most reasonably-priced too. They work on a simple principle. The are generally upright and you push your raw vegetables or whatever in the chamber as it spins. At the base of the chamber, blades or teeth chop the food up into small pieces and the juice is drawn out of the bottom into a container.

The only real limit to this method is that it won’t work quite as well with all types of food. It is perfect for softer ingredients but you will only get a very small amount of liquid from leafy greens or kale for example.

-Masticating Juicer

Most higher-end models work work like this. They are generally horizontal and work by squeezing or chewing the food, slowly extracting the juice. The difference is actually easy to see with the naked eye because the leftover pulp will be far drier than a centrifugal model.

The big advantage here is that you can juice pretty much anything! Your drink should also retain all its goodness for longer than a more basic model.

-Triturating Juicers

These are the cream of the crop in terms of performance but also require a bigger budget. They are essentially the same as the previous category, but generally work with a double auger and an upright design. Manufacturers are claiming that they extract an even greater amount of goodness from fruit and vegetables and this certainly seems likely.

The only disadvantage here is going to be the price. Given that the difference in quality might not be that significant, it probably makes sense to start with something a little more affordable.  Ultimately, the type of juicer you buy is going to come down to budget and how often you intend to use it.

Recipe Ideas

You can try all sorts of combinations and actually it is a good idea to experiment in your juice recipes. You will be surprised at the taste of some things when you separate the solid and the liquid parts. For example, a lot of people will turn their noses up at cruciferous vegetables. A pile of cauliflower on a plate isn’t always a big hit with the family. If you put it in one of your juicing recipes, all bets are off! The taste is actually quite subtle and mixes really well with stronger flavors like cherry or strawberry.

Color is also key. I find that I really like anything with a deep, vibrant color. Beet juice works really well for this as do various summer fruits.

Finally, you can add ingredients once you have finished putting things through the machine. I prefer  ginger, cinnamon and fresh lime juice. The key is not to add something that will take away from the goodness in the glass. This means no artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Have fun with it. Start off with just a couple of different things and see how they work together. If you immediately put 12 things in there, you won’t be able to tell what you actually like. Make sure that you always use a mix of both fruit and vegetables and if you have a masticating juicer, try wheatgrass too for a really healthy concoction.

Juicing on a Raw Food Diet

One of the keys to the success of raw juicing is exactly that-the food is raw. There is a long-standing debate on the advantages and disadvantages of cooking what we eat. Whilst heating food certainly plays a role in killing off bacteria for example, there is also no doubt that it reduces the nutritional quality of a lot of our food.

Taking fresh (preferably organic) produce, juicing it and then drinking it straight down is the ultimate healthy way to eat for many ‘raw foodists’. In fact, it is actually better than simply eating the same produce. Why is this? Removing the solid pulp allows the body to absorb all the vitamins and minerals present. Sure, you will lose a small amount in the solids that stay in the machine along with the fiber, but that isn’t a big deal.

This fiber, whilst useful for digestion, actually stops the body absorbing all the vitamins. One of the problems with a raw whole food diet is that there is a difference between what we eat and what we can usefully digest. Not so when your raw food is juiced.

Of course, you can certainly enjoy the solids from time to time too. Don’t be scared to have a smoothie now and again and enjoy the benefits of fiber and a different texture to your drink.

What do the Critics Say?

Juicing does receive its fair amount of criticism from various places. A lot of this is simply unfounded as people take potshots at something they don’t really understand. However, there are some valid points to consider. Most of these are to do with people who take an extreme approach and tend to be permanently on some sort of juice detox.

Any extreme diet is probably bad news and living off nothing but fruit juice from a juice extractor is no different. The sugar content is going to be relatively high if this is all you eat and there have been question marks raised about the effect this might have on diabetics. There is no fiber to slow down the absorbtion of all this fructose.

Some have also suggested that this diet, when taken to these extremes, could potentially have consequences for the kidneys through potassium build up.

Although this might seem worrying, it is important to maintain a little perspective. Juicing, when done in moderation, is a great way of increasing the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. Are we really saying that starting your day with a glass of apple and carrot juice is a bad thing? Of course not! Very few juicing books are suggesting that this should be the only thing that you eat anyway.

Celebrity Juicers

As with any diet or eating system, juicing has its poster boys and girls. Some have come out publically saying that they have done something like a juice fast, whereas others take a more reasonable approach and use green juice recipes as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Whilst many of these are the typical B list celebs, there are some big names on there too. Gwyneth Paltrow has stated that she likes to juice cleanse a couple of times a year, for instance. She has also said that she doesn’t recommend extreme methods like the master cleanse which makes her a great role model too.

Should Kids Try Juicing?

Many parents are interested in the benefits of juicing for their kids. It is perfect as long as it is done in moderation. Doing a juice cleanse should be strictly off limits for children, but having a glass of fruit and vegetable juice a day is a smart move. It helps anyone get their ‘five a day’ and we all know how problematic this can be with youngsters!

What Can I do With Leftover Pulp?

So now you know everything there is to know about juicing. The only thing left is to deal with all that pulp. Here are a few possibilitis to avoid throwing all that good stuff away.

  • Add it to soup to increase the fiber content
  • Freeze it to make a healthy lolly alternative in the Summer
  • Boil it up with herbs and spices to make tea
  • Dehydrate it to make a healthy snack to chew on
  • Use in natural cosmetics like scrubs and soaps.

Conclusion

Juicing is here to stay. In fact, it has already stood the test of time. Don’t take it to ridiculous extremes and it can become a fantastic tool in your healthy living toolbox. Time to get juicing!

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