Editor’s note: This is the second installment of an occasional series that takes a closer look at alternative medicine and health options on the Grand Strand.
The Food Guide Pyramid, published by the Department of Agriculture, recommends that we consume three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruits every day, so many people have turned to juicing as an easy way to make sure that they get the recommended servings per day.
Juicing is when the juice from a fruit or vegetable is extracted using a machine. There are many different styles and prices of juicing machines on the market today. The prices range from $50-$400.
People juice for a plethora of reasons: antioxidants, detoxing, weight loss, anti-aging, vanity, immune system boosting, wound healing, and more. Some folks just like how it tastes. Whatever the reason, it has become an increasingly popular way to intake fruits and vegetables.
“If you’re not big into fruits and vegetables, it’s a good way to get them in,” said Jennifer Barr, a dietician who works at the Wilmington Center for Community Health. “It can help you meet daily recommendations in one drink. But you shouldn’t count on juicing as your sole source of fruits and vegetables.”
Barr often make juice for her children. She gets creative and adds carrots, kale, parsley and apples. She also uses the leftover pulp from her juicing machine in her muffins.
“Aim to eat two whole fruits, and three to four vegetables a day. They should come in different colors, as the colors have different vitamins and minerals,” Barr said.
When you juice, you typically do not use the nutrient-rich skin of the fruit or vegetable, which results in less minerals and vitamins being in the juice. Fiber is also left out in many juicing scenarios because the pulp is removed often times. The fiber is in the pulp.
It is important to drink the fresh juice as soon as possible and at room temperature to get the most health benefits from the process. Enzymes and other micronutrients are lost every minute the juice stands. If you do have to store juice for any period of time, add a few drops of lemon juice, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate to reduce the amount of nutrients lost.
“I have been housebound with debilitating myalgic encephalomyelitis for 34 years now. While searching for ways to take care of my dietary needs, I discovered the benefits of juicing for health and weight loss. Juicing recipes are simply the best way to optimal nutrition,” said Rika Susan, a juicing coach and the author of a weight loss and nutrition guide at Best-Juicing.com.
She shared a list of several helpful hints and tips for juicing. Some of these tips include the following:
• Remove seeds and rinds, and some skins. Remember to remove hard pits from fruit such as peaches. You won’t eat these and neither will your juicer. Apple seeds contain small amounts of cyanide. Be sure to remove these before juicing.
• Don’t peel carrots, but do remove their greens. Rhubarb greens also need to be removed. There may be a problem with toxicity if you juice these.
• Do peel citrus, mango and papaya. These peels are not usable and may even be harmful to you. The skins of oranges and grapefruits contain toxic substances. However, the white, pithy part just below the skin contains valuable bioflavonoids.
• Soft fruits such as peaches, melons and strawberries will produce a much thicker juice than harder-textured fruit, such as apples. Combine the two to improve the results.
• Your need for expensive supplements in the form of vitamin and mineral tablets will diminish significantly if you are juicing for health on a daily basis.
• Many ailments will improve if juice forms a regular part of your diet. For example, cabbage juice is one of the most healing juices in case of ulcers. In this case, use under medical supervision.
• If you experience water retention, juices such as celery, cucumber, cranberry and watermelon are extremely helpful.
• A general rule is that a pound of produce will give you about a cup of juice.
• One cup of carrot juice is equal to about four cups of diced, raw carrots. Carrots are much easier to consume in liquid form. Your body is also able to assimilate them better. Your skin may become slightly yellow if you consume large quantities of carrot juice. This effect is harmless and will disappear once you reduce your consumption.
• Vegetable juice is a low-calorie snack and contains no fat. Use it as part of a sensible eating plan.
• Vegetable juice can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. It has much less sugar than fruit juices and about 50 percent fewer calories, yet it will satisfy that sweet tooth every time.
• The properties in many vegetables, such as cucumber and carrots, will improve your skin, hair and nails.
• Remember that, it you have kids, they may be more willing to try the juice at first if you turn it into a smoothie. Try apple, carrot and grapes or strawberry. Put ice-cubes in a blender, and pour in your juice mixture. Add some frozen yogurt or sherbet if you want, and blend to the desired thickness.
• A good way to add extra flavor and sweetness to juice is to use fresh or shredded coconut. You can also add some cranberries if you like the taste. Cranberries have a high antioxidant content. In addition, they may help you to avoid urinary tract infections.
Local certified health coach Stacie Rush said the best food guide pyramid that is family friendly is the Choose My Plate at choosemyplate.com.
“I think juicing is great but really love whole food juicing with devices like Nutribullet or Vitamix,” she said. “This allows the whole food to remain including the fiber which slows down the metabolizing of sugars. This affect lessens the insulin reaction and keeps you fuller longer. Also, you can incorporate superfoods, vegetables, greens, and fruits.”
Daphne Trent is a certified health and wellness coach. She believes that nutrition is our greatest form of medicine and claims that there are more than 4,000 studies that have been done showing fruits and vegetables can prevent cancer and heart disease.
“What you feed your body will determine how you age and how long you will live and what the quality of your life will be the last 10 to 20 years of your life,” she said. “When we buy a luxury car, in order to keep it running at peak performance, it has to have oil changes, maintenance and great care to keep it running and last a long time. Our bodies are the same way. The American Cancer Society just for one recommends nine to 13 servings of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables to help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.”
If you do decide to try juicing, remember it is always best to consult with your doctor and research as much as possible before changing your diet in any way.