BENEFITS OF JUICING
Juicing fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to ensure that you are getting your five-a-day (hopefully more), along with a healthy intake of dietary fibre and a broad spectrum of nutrients.
Why? Well for one thing, it’s quick and easy. Rather than having to prepare the ingredients and incorporate them into meals, you can just pop them into a juicer and you are ready to go. Perfect if you are not a big fruit and veg eater!
Not only can you consume a far greater number of fruit and vegetables in liquid form, their nutritional content also tends to be higher because they are uncooked (many nutrients are destroyed during the cooking process).
So juicing is a great way to access a wide range of natural nutrients, in an unprocessed and bioavailable (easily absorbable and digestible) form. More importantly, fresh juices taste great and the recipe combinations are endless!
When we talk about the nutritional benefits of juicing, one of the most notable is the high level of enzyme activity in raw food.
Enzymes that are naturally present in fruit and vegetables support health in a number of ways. They can be thought of as the “workforce” of the body, as they are essential for everything from the proper digestion of food to the absorption of nutrients and the production of energy. Plus, they are critical for almost all metabolic activity in the body.
However, these vital enzymes are often lacking in the average diet, because they are so delicate – destroyed by heat, wilting, storage etc. So even if you are cooking with healthy ingredients, you may not be getting your full quota of enzymes.
One of the best ways to access enzymes is therefore through raw, unprocessed and freshly pressed juices made at home. The enzymes are left intact and, if the juice is consumed within a short space of time, aren’t given time to degrade.
By accessing external enzymes through juicing, your body is able to perform the process of digestion without further depleting its own internal (and finite) enzyme bank. You can give your digestive system a break, while giving your cells ready access to the healing benefits of the juice.
Regularly drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices will also increase your intake of phytochemicals – a broad group of beneficial substances found in plant foods (fruit, vegetables, beans and grains) that can help to support health and immunity, as well as cleanse the body on a cellular level.
Research suggests that there are as many as 4,000 different types of phytochemical, some of which you may already be familiar with. For instance, antioxidants, flavonoids, isoflavones, resveratrol, carotenoids, anthocyanidins and polyphenols.
Many of these nutrients are considered to have protective properties. For instance:-antioxidants can help the body to fight against the damage caused by harmful free radicals (most phytochemicals have some antioxidant activity and help to protect our cells)
-isoflavones can help to support hormonal balance, by imitating human oestrogen
-indoles (found in, for example, cabbage and cruciferous vegetables) stimulate enzymes
-allicin (found in garlic) has anti-bacterial activity
-and the list goes on.
The high nutrient content of fresh juices is one of the main reasons why those undertaking cleanse and detox programs, or seeking to boost their immunity, make juicing a part of their daily regimen (whether for the short- or long-term).
It is also a great way to support healthy weight loss, as fresh juices taste great, boost our nutrient intake while being low in calories and help to curb the appetite by keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Did you know that the following foods and drinks have an acid-forming effect in the body following their digestion?
-Meat, fish, poultry and game
-Dairy products (including milk, cheese and eggs)
-Sugar and sugar-containing products
-Grains and all grain products
When acid-forming foods are eaten and digested, acids are produced which need to be neutralised. Otherwise, the blood pH can fall into the acidic range (7 or below). Previous research has suggested that sick people tend to be in this range.
The neutralising of these acids is done by alkalising mineral salts: calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. The are all found in raw fruit and vegetables. It is therefore easy to see how the regular intake of fresh juices can have an alkalising effect on the body.
Fresh juice vs. concentrate
Common sense tells us that fresh always wins out over processed and pre-packed from a nutritional perspective. But is fresh juice really that different to concentrate? The answer is “yes”.
While it may be a little bit more hassle to spend a few minutes juicing than just opening the fridge door, it is worth bearing a couple of things in mind:-
Processed bottled juice can last for up to 2 years, because it is pasteurised or heat treated. This process has been shown to destroy many nutrients, including the naturally-occurring antioxidants and enzymes in the fruit and vegetables. Interestingly, it also changes the pH from alkaline to acid.
By the time the juice is packed and sold, it may have been heated at 2 or 3 locations. Each time this is done, the level of nutrients is further diminished. There is also a further breakdown of nutrients over time during transportation and storage. The primary purpose is to extend the juice’s shelf life for commercial purposes; unfortunately, it does nothing for the nutritional content.
With juicing now so popular, you will not be short on recipes or inspiration. Just go online and search for a juice that suits you and your particular health goal – whether it be weight loss, improved digestion, higher energy levels, immune-boosting, healthier-looking skin or detoxification.