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You are working on improving your health, becoming more fit, lengthening your life span and enjoying every day to the fullest. If you are ready to maximize your rewards, juicing is the way to make it happen. Juicing has improved the quality of life for so many people. Daily consumption of the right amount of nutrients in today’s fast-paced, processed world is a huge struggle. People used to eat mainly vegetables and fruits, in some parts of the world that is still the norm. Unfortunately, the more “developed” a nation becomes, the less we care about our health. We sacrifice our long term health and thereby happiness to the stresses of the day. Juicing is one of the best ways to gain great nutrition in no time! Research has shown that just adding a couple of glasses of healthy green juice to your daily diet can have huge positive impact on your overall health. It is the way to a healthier version of you.

Here’s the Scoop on Juicing!

mcdonalds-1340199_960_720In a fast paced society that values instant gratification, not only have our social exchanges and means of sharing information changed, but so too has the way we eat. Fast food abounds; all around us signs glare “Open Late!,” “99 Cents!,” “XXL!” Obesity and its related diseases is a health crisis. But why, with all this accessible, cheap food around, are there so many serious health issues facing this population? Well, “super-sized” does not equate to “super healthy.” Consumers are constantly confronted by choices such as processed vs. unprocessed; store bought vs. home cooked; fad diet vs. lifestyle. While an occasional indulgence of fast food does not offer much harm, constant intake of these processed, store bought, fad diet foods can lead to serious nutrient deficits. And these deficits leave us feeling sluggish, sore, bloated, and sometimes come with lasting health issues. So while some may view juicing as a current craze, I suggest we see this process as a means to achieve the efficiency of fast and store bought food, but with the nutrient content that will add value to our bodies and lives.

So what is juicing then? It is a process of extracting liquid content, including water and a majority of the nutrients, from a whole food such as a vegetable or fruit. What is left over, as a result of this is process, is the nutrient rich juice in one container, with the fibrous pulp in another. Now you may question: isn’t fiber good for me, and so doesn’t removal of it go against my best interests? Well yes and no. Yes, fiber is good for you; but no, removing it from your juice drink is not a bad choice. The reason I say this is because fiber slows down the digestive process, and not all nutrients are released from the fiber into your system.

On average, 70% of the whole food’s nutrients are squeezed into the juice and 100% of those nutrients are then absorbed by your system. One of the main purposes of juicing is to intake a dense quantity of highly valuable and healthy nutrients, and obtaining those nutrients quickly and efficiently is an important aspect of this goal. This is where a juicer and blender are different, just in case you were wondering. Blenders crush and well . . . blend . . . the entirety of whatever you place in it; think smoothies. You will be drinking the fiber also, and while still healthy for you, the absorption rate and nutrient value can be less when this fiber is involved.

pug-965766_960_720However, this is not to say the pulp has to go to waste after juicing. If you still want the fiber, you can add the pulp to other meals. For instance, you could make a smoothie in the future, or perhaps a veggie broth base, or even meatballs! Depending on the combination of vegetables and fruits chosen, you will have quite the selection of (re)purposes for your fiber. If you do decide to freeze the pulp, note that most of the nutrients will be lost, but the hardy fiber will remain for when you are ready to use. And there are other uses for this pulp besides your own direct consumption. You can add pulp to your compost pile, wherein you are creating a nutrient rich soil. You can also strengthen the diet of your animals. As long as all of the ingredients are veterinarian approved, mix in some pulp to your furry friend’s dinner. This will help add hydration and a diversity of nutrients and taste to their diet also!

In fact, this diversity of nutrients and taste is one of the most beneficial aspects to juicing. Your intake of veggies and fruits can be of a much greater variety than just trying to consume them all whole, throughout the day. Even a salad, created with a bright, leafy, menagerie of vegetables, would be enormous to comparatively obtain the same amount of benefits. Plus, you will be chewing for quite some time . . . and because the fiber has not been sorted out, you will become overly full. You will simply be unable to eat the amount of whole foods necessary to match juicing results. Also, I see juicing as beneficial for busy days, when food preparation and a nice sit down meal just aren’t realistic. In fact, juicing might even be better during such times because of the nutrient absorption rate, as its fast pace will help to keep your body moving and your mind sharp. And when there are just some veggies you can’t wrap your taste buds around, combining them in a juice mixture may help take the edge off.

vegetables-790022_960_720Another great aspect of juicing is that no matter the foods you have available, you will benefit from their nutritional content. So whether you have a favorite recipe, or try new mixtures every day, you can combine whatever ingredients your heart desires (or your fridge allows). Incorporating a juice drink into your diet then is a fairly simple task. (It is important to recognize that a healthier juiced drink will be based more in vegetables than fruits, which are naturally high in sugar content.) For some the juice offers a mid-day kick, where others may drink it as one of their meals. And of course you’ve most likely heard of a juice detox, where juices are all your meals for a couple of days. The exact manner in which you use a juicer, and employ the resulting concoction in your life, is up to you; though, I’d recommend talking with your doctor if you have any serious concerns or health issues. And remember that balance is key. I personally see juicing as a means by which to add a dense variety of nutrients, in one easy setting, to my daily meal routine.

Now I have been referring a lot to “fiber” and “nutrients” but what do I mean by these terms? What exactly are you in-taking when you juice? To start, let’s talk about fiber. Fiber is found in plant based food, and is one type of carbohydrate the human body is unable to digest. (The other “carbs” are found in sugars and starches.) Carbohydrates do not offer calories or energy, and will just pass through your entire digestive tract. However, carbs in the form of fiber are definitely important for our bodies still, and this is why I recommend reusing your pulp in some form. Fiber’s benefits are that it helps make us feel fuller, and good fiber will help you feel this way for longer. This is due to fiber’s slow moving nature. It takes more time for this to process from your stomach to small intestine than other dietary choices.

There are two main types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber can help your body because it does not dissolve. If it were in a pot of water, it would simply absorb that water (picture it like a sponge); and so when in your digestive tract, insoluble fiber helps to absorb bad bacteria and other unwanted guests which may be harmful or irritating. Soluble fiber is the opposite: it does dissolve, and does so in your stomach, in any water and digestive juices present. What results is a gel like material that actually traps some food elements, making them non-absorbable. Whether insoluble or soluble, fiber greatly benefits our bodies and is a necessary part to any healthy, balanced diet. However, when we eat too much of it, fresh nutrients are prevented from being absorbed into our bodies. Juicing helps balance out this potential issue.

top-view-1248950_960_720As for nutrients, there are also two categories we can discuss: macronutrient and micronutrient. Just as with fiber, both aspects of nutrients are quite important to the human body. Macronutrients are found in elements such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; micronutrients are comprised of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are an essential aspect to discuss when considering juicing, because these micronutrients are what comprise a plant’s immune system. This defense ends up aiding the human body by helping to process out the toxins found in our environments, which makes its way into our food sources.

Have you heard of the terms antioxidants? How about flavonoids or carotenes? These are some examples of phytonutrients that you can find in a plant, and there can literally be hundreds of phytonutrients in a singular plant-based food. So when you are juicing, and extracting nutrients with fiber removal, you are allowing your body to absorb a higher rate of nutrients than you would through regular, fibrous consumption. In fact, the Department of Agriculture has found that over 90% of raw food nutrition can be found in juice.

There is one key detail to remember–everything I have been talking about comes from fresh, homemade juice. To deal with temperature fluctuations and oxidization (think a bitten apple, turning brown after sitting in the air), there are a great deal of additives to store bought juice. These include vast amounts of sugars which are often added to store juices; whether this is for preservation, taste or a bit of both reasons, such sugars can defeat the purpose of juicing. Their effects may override any of the positive nutrient value you would ordinarily consume from a non-modified food source.

9000_1__74129-600x450But how do we actually get the nutrients we want? Not all nutrients are extracted the same way, and so it is important to consider what kind of juicer you are purchasing. There are many different kinds of juicers, so I’ve provided just a few aspects of these devices to keep in mind. If you are someone on-the-go, prep work may be too much of a hassle. And why buy a juicer if not to reap its benefits? So consider the chute size: the smaller the chute the more prep work, like cutting and chopping, you will have to do. Also, there are a few different kinds of juicers, but two of the main contenders are the masticating juicers and the centrifugal juicers. Masticating means to chew; the food is crushed and “chewed” up so these types of juicers handle leafy greens really well. They also operate at a low speed, which means less oxygen getting mixed up in your juice, so the oxidation process does not occur as quickly. Because of this, you don’t need to drink your juice right away. The centrifugal juicers act just as a centrifuge–the food is directed away from the axis of the blades–so what occurs is a spinning motion. While you will need to drink your juice more quickly, because the high speeds integrate more oxygen into your juice, these devices typically have larger shoots and are easier to clean. One difference that is often incorrectly discussed are centrifugal juicers causing lost enzymes. The theory is that the fast spin raises the temperature, and your juice then loses some nutrients. However, for these enzymes to be ‘burned away’ the temperature would have to reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and no properly working juicer should heat up to that degree.

Another important aspect to consider is that after prep work, it might not be enjoyable to then have to clean up. Depending on your time, (and tolerance for cleaning dishes), consider the number of parts an individual juicer possesses. For example, a twin gear extractor is more complicated in its design than a horizontal auger machine, so the former will have more cleaning needs than the latter. And as mentioned, masticating juicers are usually more complex than the centrifugal design. Furthermore, some juicers are dishwasher safe, while others are hand wash only. (And sometimes the dishwasher is not gentle enough on the plastic components making it essentially hand wash only.) No matter the type of juicer you select, I would recommend scrubbing the strainer before putting it in the dishwasher, so your dishwasher does not fill with pulpy remnants. Also, a cleaning brush can help diminish cleaning time for any type of juicer.

When juicing, remember that it is to your body and mind’s benefit, and that you should enjoy the process and what you drink. A juicer then is like an investment in yourself, and while there may be a lot to consider, once you find your best juicer, create the freshest recipe, and take enjoyable sip after sip, you will not only receive instant gratification of a good meal, but your benefits will extend long beyond any super-sized order you could place.