I have mixed feelings about juicing. I normally try to promote dietary habits that would have been possible over 200 years ago because I figure the human race did pretty well for hundreds of generations before juicers, refrigerators, and microwaves were invented. Juices were certainly made over 200 years ago but without refrigeration the only way to consume juices on a regular basis were in fermented form. During apple or grape harvest I imagine they would allow the kids to get a sugar rush on some fresh cider or grape juice but the rest would be fermented into hard cider or wine to warm the adults on winter nights. We need to remember that juicing is not a normal way of consuming foods.
That being said, I still do recommend juicing not in spite of our modern eating habits but because of them. I'm sure it is no surprise to anyone reading this blog that the average American does not eat very healthy. The Standard American Diet is horrendous when it comes to actual nutrition. And people are just plain sick from these diets and the stress of modern society. Juicing is a great way to get a concentrated amount of vitamins and minerals into a very malnourished and depleted body. It helps the body to cleanse and detoxify itself and is a great cure for many modern diseases (*gasp!* Did I say cure? Don't tell the FDA!).
One of the main benefits of juicing is that you don't have to chew. The blender or juicer breaks down the tough cellulose wall of the plant and releases all of those nutrients. So instead of just one salad, you get the nutritional equivalent of sixty! But don't discard that pulp, it can be used in meatloaf, sauces or other dishes for added fiber. Vegetable and fruit fiber are much easier on the digestive tract than grain fiber, which can actually contribute to intestinal problems.
I do recommend getting a good juicer but it doesn't have to be expensive. There are many out there and a lot of people will tell you to be sure you don't get this or that kind because it heats up the juice and you lose some nutrients. I wouldn't worry about that too much. The benefits of even a poorly prepared juice far outweigh the minor loss of enzymes. You will want to get one that is easy to clean though. Unless you plan on juicing things like wheatgrass the average juicer will be fine for your daily needs. If you insist on getting the best then I would recommend a Champion or Jack LaLanne Juicer. I'm sure there are others but if you feel like arguing with me you're missing my point. Feel free to do some research on your own.
I also recommend balancing out the nutrients in your juice with protein and fats by adding a couple of raw pastured eggs and some homemade sour cream or coconut oil. This is what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride calls a GAPS milkshake and it is excellent for healing the gut lining and detoxifying the liver. The fat soluble vitamins included help you to absorb the minerals in the juice better. Plus it is really tasty! For best results use 50% vegetable for therapeutic benefits and 50% fruit for taste. Or you can try one vegetable and two fruits like my Live Food instructor taught me. She makes a beautiful apple, pear,
Ingredients to be cautious with are raw spinach, kale, beet greens, swiss chard, or other leafy greens high in oxalic acid. It's fine to use these occasionally but vary your greens. I've seen too many clients rave about their spinach salads while complaining of bone loss and kidney stones! Beets are an excellent blood cleanser but use a small amount at first if you are not used to them. It can cause a very strong cleansing reaction if you do too much too fast. Herbs are the same way, be careful adding parsley, cilantro or other herbs. Many herbs have strong cleansing actions and some can even be dangerous in large amounts. I once did a green drink almost entirely composed of cilantro for its "heavy metal pulling" action. To this day I cannot stand the smell or taste of cilantro. Let's just say I got very sick. =)
Vary your fruits and vegetables. All fruit juices have a high concentration of sugar and acids that can irritate your digestive system. If you frequently have loose stools or diarrhea I would recommend waiting until the stools firm up before drinking fresh juices.
The best time to consume your juice would be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. For serious health issues start with just a small amount, maybe even a teaspoonful, and work up slowly. Remember that these are concentrated foods, more like a medicine than just a drink.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.