Juicing: What You Need To Know About This Hot Health Trend
Words by Nesa Mangal
It seems like everyone is juicing these days. But before you pull out your blender, learn the pros and cons of getting your daily vegetable and fruit servings through a straw.
Michele Green was used to cooking the rich and sodium-heavy dishes of her Jamaican homeland for her family. But it wasn’t until her husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol and blood pressure three years ago that she committed herself to providing a healthier diet for her family. Within a week of her husband’s diagnosis, Green found herself focusing on her work as a peer professional, taking care of her 6-year-old son and her husband, and juicing. “I chose to start juicing because my husband’s conditions were a result of unhealthy eating,” Green explains. “We really needed to get him eating less fatty meat and dairy and a lot more fruits and veggies. It was good for him and could benefit all of us too.”
Green isn’t alone—extracting juices from fresh fruit and uncooked vegetables has swept up a great number of people who have high hopes for the practice. Advocates of juicing have claimed results ranging from slowing down the aging process to reducing cancer risks, but most people who juice believe it will detoxify their bodies or help them lose weight, according to New York State Certified dietitian and nutritionist Beth Warren. “Juicing allows people to consume greens, fruits, and other healthy produce they may otherwise not consume,” Warren says. “ I support it 100%.”
Juicing can help reduce weight gain, increase energy, and strengthen the immune system when paired with a healthy, whole-food diet. While there are a number of brands that offer a wide variety of juices, do-it-yourself juicing allows people to consume an optimal amount of vegetables, greens, fruits, and other healthy produce in an efficient (and budget-friendly) manner. That’s part of the reason why juicing is so attractive: You could sit there and eat three apples and a banana, and if you have the time for that, more power to you. However, juicing allows you to blend the nutrients of those three apples and banana into one juice in three minutes, saving your precious time and your jaws.
If you’re new to the juicing trend, no worries: “All a beginner really needs to know is how to pick out her favorite fruits and veggies, how to cut them up, and how to turn on the blender,” Green says. “It’s really that easy, and way cheaper than buying organic juice.” Most juice recipes for beginners require a blender and 10 minutes tops. If you’re ready to invest in a juicer, that time is cut in half because you can just drop your fruits and veggies straight into the juicer after a quick rinse.
Once you have become accustomed to juicing you can add more vegetables and less fruits. “Adding lemons, limes, cranberries, or fresh ginger to an otherwise green juice will naturally sweeten [it], while still maintaining lower amounts of sugar than say, an apple or a banana,” Green explains.
"Juicing allows people to consume greens, fruits, and other healthy produce they may otherwise not consume."
Exchanging fruits in place of vegetables over time will also help you lose weight by cutting down your sugar intake. But Warren warns that immediate weight loss caused by juice fasting—juicing without eating anything else at all—won’t be healthy. “Rapid weight loss usually means a loss of water or muscle weight, not fat. Neither are sustainable or safe methods of weight loss,” she says. Therefore, you should make sure you’re eating clean and healthy while you’re juicing to actually get weight loss results that will last.
Controlling your fruit and vegetable intake is important for juicing safely. Overjuicing, or juicing without eating anything else, can cause some problems. Research by the American Cancer Society states that juicing incorrectly can cause:
- severe diarrhea
- low energy
- low blood sugar
- muscle aches
People who have diabetes should talk to their doctors before juicing because the natural juices of fruits and starchy vegetables contain amounts of sugar that can be harmful to them.
The good news is that these risks are avoidable and juicing can be rewarding for everyone when you know the right amount of fruits and vegetables you need. The website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers a convenient three-step calculator that shows you the right amount of fruit and vegetables you should be eating per day.
Juicing with a healthy, whole-food diet is rewarding. So go ahead: Pull out your blender and plan a trip to the grocery store. Below are two healthy and refreshing recipes perfect for the beginning juicer, courtesy of Michele Green.
(makes two servings)
½ cup of water
Blend peeled and halved bananas, strawberries, and raspberries with water in a blender or juicer on high speed for three minutes or until your juice is smoothie thick.
Greener On the Other Side
(makes two servings)
1 kale leaf
3 broccoli flowerettes
3 pineapple slices
12 green beans
½ cup of water
Dice the kale leaf, broccoli, green beans, and sliced pineapple. Blend with water in a blender or juicer on high speed for three minutes or until your juice is smoothie thick.