By Samantha Pollack
Back when I was still in nutrition school, a fellow student asked me, “So, do you juice?”
Gasp! Is that even a thing, still? (I was a professional gym rat personal trainer. I assumed we were talking about juicing.)
Fortunately, he plowed through the awkward silence without even noticing, and kept talking. About vegetables.
It IS a thing. An insanely healthy, unbelievably tasty thing, that you should definitely start drinking.
If you’re a juicing virgin though, it can seem pretty inaccessible. Until today.
What IS juice?
Fresh juice is extracted from fruits and vegetables, with a juicer (more on that later). Juicers separate the “meat” (basically, fiber) from the plant, extracting all the moisture (juice). This juice is power-packed with phytonutrients and live enzymes. “Drinking your vegetables” this way allows your body to absorb the good stuff immediately, with no fiber to slow it down.
Why do I care about that?
The benefits of juicing are innumerable. But let’s start with this:
- Morning energy (great for weaning yourself off coffee) – and really, increased energy all day. Woo!
- Clearer skin
- Whiter eyes
- Reduced sugar cravings
- Stronger blood & bones
- Shiny hair
- Anti-inflammatory properties
Wait – isn’t fiber good?
Yes, of course! But these days, Americans are just not getting enough vegetables into their daily diet. Juicing is a great way to increase your intake. And juice isn’t meant to
replace meals. You should still eat whole fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. (We’ll talk more about that in Part II.)
What do you make juice from?
Everything! My favorite is a combination of cucumber, celery, lemon, parsley, spinach and a green apple.
When you’re first starting out, a higher proportion of fruit is recommended, for the taste. As you get used to it and your body responds to all that health, your tastes will change and you can introduce more and more veggies.
Um….yuck! Why can’t I just buy one of those fancy juices in the store?
Those juices are not the same. They’ve been pasteurized to make them shelf-stable, and the extreme heat of pasteurization kills all the enzymes and delicate phytonutrients. Basically, all you’re left with after that is sugar. They add nutrients back in synthetically. Bottled juices are a waste of money.
Where can I get this juice you speak of?
This is tricky for some people. My recommendation is to seek out a health food store – many have juice bars inside. Then there’s always the Google. Try searching for “Juice bar [your city]” or “Where can I get fresh juice in [your city]?”
Trying it first is ideal. The pros have perfected recipes that taste good, and you can try out different combinations. Also, if you hate it, you’ll only be out about six bucks.
Okay, I’m sold. How do I make this at home?
You can purchase a juicer starting at around $200. There are two types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating.
A centrifugal juicer consists of a blade-filled basket that spins around really fast, spitting the juice out at one end and pulp at the other. These are usually more affordable and a bit easier to clean. Two popular brands are Breville (that’s what I use) and Omega.
A masticating juicer has a spiral-shaped ceramic blade, that spins more slowly. These juicers tend to produce more juice and less pulp. They are also more expensive. Omega makes one, and Green Star comes highly recommended.
The difference? Many experts claim that the heat of the centrifugal juicer destroys the enzymes in the process. A masticating juicer is preferred for maximum health benefits, as well as less waste.
My opinion? Just get what you can afford and start juicing!
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed on this page are entirely my own. I am not a medical doctor, licensed nutritionist or registered dietician. I will only endorse activities, products or services reviewed through my own experience and expertise in nutrition and health.