Juicing: Healthy or Harmful
While we are one of the most overfed countries in the world, we are also one of the most under nourished. Much of our food has been processed, modified and packaged in ways that strip the nutrients right on out. A recent US national survey, NHANES 2007-2010, which surveyed 16,444 individuals four years and older, reported that 94.3% of the population is deficient in AT LEAST one critical nutrient. One solution to get added nutrients into our diet and avoid the chronic diseases associated with nutrient deficiency is through juicing.
We have all heard of juicing and many of us have tried it but did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to juice??
The main problem that we typically see is that people are doing too much fruit in their juices. One very popular therapy focuses on juicing as a cornerstone of care, the problem…apples and carrots are used exorbitantly. Several popular juice recipes use oranges, apples, grapefruit, mangoes or other high fruit sugar containing foods. Why is that a problem? Fruit contains a particular type of sugar called fructose.
Fructose is metabolized by the body in a very different way than other types of sugar like glucose. While glucose stimulates an insulin response so that it can be shuttled to muscle cells, fructose places the burden of metabolism solely on the liver. What also does this? Alcohol. While we all know that alcohol can cause liver issues (fatty liver), fructose has flown under the radar. Diets high in fructose can lead to a condition called Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that is being seen at alarming rates in children.
Fructose is also the most “fat loving” type of sugar meaning that it can convert to the building blocks of triglycerides. So if you are doing lots of fruit or fruit juices and your triglycerides keep staying elevated…you should reduce fruit! This triglyceride building block also gets converted to adipose tissue (fat) more than 40x more than its glucose counterpart.
Lastly, the metabolism of fructose by your liver can create a big list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout. Overburdening our primary detox organ, the liver, with fructose makes our body less able to process all the other toxins we are exposed to such as pesticides, mold, bpa, additives, etc.
The best fruits to use as a staple are lemons and limes, as they are some of the most alkalizing foods that exist.
So now that I have scared everyone away from juicing and fruit lets talk about why you SHOULD be juicing.
Juicing acts as a form of “pre-digestion” that the body can readily absorb. So many of us have impaired digestion due to years of inflammatory diets, impaired stomach production, stressed out nervous system or an imbalanced microbiome. Even worse, the people with the most impaired digestive systems are the ones that often need these nutrients the most!
Juicing allows you to drastically increase the number of servings of vegetables you get per day and also the variety. In a single glass of juice, you can easily get 6-8 servings of nutrient rich vegetables. You can also use this method to add in vegetables that you may not typically like the taste of by mixing it with others that will mask the flavor.
The Journal of American Medicine published the results of the Kame Project, which looked at the potential of juicing in reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Their findings? People who consumed juice three times per week were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who consumed juice less than once a week.
Juicing done right can also create a more alkaline environment in your body which helps prevent many chronic diseases and is a major deterrent of many cancers as well. “According to Keiichi Morishita in his book, Hidden Truth of Cancer, as the blood becomes acidic, the body deposits acidic substances into cells to remove them from the blood. This allows the blood to remain slightly alkaline. However, it causes the cells to become acidic and toxic. Over time, many of these cells increase in acidity and some die. However, some of these acidified cells adapt to the new environment. These abnormal cells are called “malignant” cells, and they do not correspond with brain function or the DNA memory code. Therefore, malignant cells grow indefinitely and without order. This is cancer.”
Looking for some ideas??
Cucumbers and celery provide a great foundation for any juice because of its high water content. Celery is a top source of apigenin, which is one of the most powerful anti-cancer nutrients in food. Cucumbers are 95% water making them a great source of hydration as well nutrients.
For detoxifying, just about any vegetable is going to be good here but herbs such as cilantro, wheat grass and parsley are especially potent at helping the body rid toxins and heavy metals. Be sure not to overdo these due to their strong taste and more importantly, the potential to detox too rapidly causing a herxheimer reaction.
Beets are one of my favorites to include as it adds a bit of sweetness and a massive health boosting kick to any juice. In Chinese medicine, beets are used to nourishes blood, tonifies the heart, calms the spirit, lubricates the intestines, cleanses the liver. They can also be used to improve exercise performance and blood flow as it boosts nitric oxide in the body.
Ginger root and turmeric root are two powerful anti-inflammatory foods that can turn any juice into a tremendous health promoting beverage.
Leafy green vegetables are great additions but not all are created equal. My favorite is kale due to the dense nutrient content and minimal amount of oxalates. Both spinach and swiss chard contain about 10x more oxalates than kale but has similar nutrient content. Excess oxalates can accumulate in the body contributing to kidney stones, muscle soreness, impaired thyroid function and vulvodynia. Also avoid raw cabbage, collards, bok choy, kale and broccoli as they can significantly reduce thyroid function. These cruciferous vegetables are best when cooked.