Let’s be honest up front – juicing is a major commitment in time and money. So why do I recommend that you juice? Because juicing is the quickest and most effective way I know of to get the necessary vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that your body needs to heal itself and to maintain optimum health. We are designed for a diet high in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, and you’re just not going to get what you need from a pill, an injection, or a man-made replacement.
Juicing allows you to get most of the vitamins and minerals while eliminating most of the fiber. You may have heard that fiber is necessary to keep us healthy. Absolutely true. Most of the time I want to see you get lots of fiber, but there are specific times, like when detoxing, when I like to see you get more nutrients without more fiber. The other reason to juice is if you have a hard time eating enough veggies. Most of us cannot eat several pounds of fresh, raw vegetables per day. But most of us can easily drink a quart of juice per day, which packs the nutritional content of close to 2 pounds of produce. In addition to the juice, you should still be eating some fruits and vegetables to get your fiber unless you are detoxing.
How should I drink juice?
In time, your body will learn to love and crave the taste of fresh juice, but you might not feel that way initially. Those who don’t like the taste sometimes want to gulp it down, but that is not a good way to drink your juice. You should hold it in your mouth, swish it around and “chew” it. Chewing does more than just break down the food into smaller, digestible chunks. Chewing releases saliva, which contains enzymes that begin digesting the food before you even swallow it. Also, chewing sends signals to your gastrointestinal system that stimulate the digestive process in your stomach.
I drink my juice in 8 oz or 16 oz containers throughout the day. Whether you should drink your juice on an empty stomach or with some protein depends on how your body handles glucose/insulin and on what specific vegetables/fruits you are juicing.
What should I juice?
The specific ingredients I recommend vary based on where you are in your journey toward health. Certain vegetable juices will detoxify your body too rapidly and should be avoided if you are already in a state of compromised health! The juice my family drinks is very different than the juice I recommend to someone who has a significant disease. In general you want to get as much variety as possible. Your daily juice intake should be about 80% veggies and 20% fruit, and don’t skimp on the expensive, less tasty, leafy green veggies. But it’s best to buy the green leafy veggies with the stalks attached. If you get just the leaves, you end up with almost no juice at all.
If you’re new to juicing, we recommend starting with Green Juice. When I refer to “green juice” I mean juicing lots of green leafy vegetables with their stalks, such as all varieties of kale and chard, celery, and/or beet greens as the main ingredients. Vary the greens with drinks for variety and nutrients. You may add a green apple or a 1/2 lemon to a quart of juice to sweeten the taste.
I must stress that the ingredients of your juice are very individualized based on your current health. If your body is already compromised, drinking a pint of, say, carrot and beet juice could throw your body into a healing crisis that could range from uncomfortable to dangerous. If you’re feeling your way through this process on your own, I strongly suggest you start with very small quantities of specific produce and work your way up gradually.
Should I buy Organic?
Yes! I often have people tell me that they heard about “some study” that showed Organic produce is no more nutritious than non-organic produce. Let’s debunk that myth right now. In July 2014, the British Journal of Nutrition published research that reviewed 343 separate studies comparing organic to non-organic foods. After reviewing these 343 independent studies, they concluded that organic produce is higher in vitamins and minerals, and that inorganic foods are higher in pesticides and other toxic chemicals. “This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits,” said study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University.
Also, if it’s not organic, it can impossible to tell if it’s a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). GMO foods often have thousands of percent more pesticide residue than organic foods according to a study published in the National Institute of Health, 2014 June 15, issue 153.
If I could not buy organic, I would not juice inorganic produce, but I would eat inorganic produce. I think eating inorganic is much better than not eating produce at all. but due to the potentially high amount of pesticides in inorganic produce, I would refrain from juicing it. If you must buy inorganic, the safest inorganic produce to eat are those with a thick skin that you don’t eat: pineapple, oranges, bananas, avocados, squash, melons, etc. If you are eating the skin of inorganic produce, spray it with distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or soak it in a vinegar solution for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse thoroughly before eating or juicing.
How long will the juice last?
If you use a cold press juicer and you seal the juice in an airtight container with very little oxygen, it will last 24 hours without a problem. For example, we use 1-pint and ½-pint canning jars filled to overflowing, sealed, and immediately refrigerated, and we try to drink them within 24 hours. Occasionally a pint will stay around for 36-48 hours. The taste is still okay, but the nutritional value degrades over time. 72-hours after juicing, I find it undrinkable.
How long does it take to juice for one day?
To juice 64 ounces of fresh juice with our juicer takes us about 1 hour and 30 minutes, not counting shopping. If you buy fresh produce often, like I do, shopping becomes significant. This is a major time commitment for many people. You will be tempted to juice once for several days. We juice on one day and finish the juice by the next day, so we get away with juicing every other day. But the longer you store it, the more the nutritional content of the juice will suffer, and the nutritional content is the primary reason you are doing this. Don’t cut corners. If your goal is to maintain health, it’s okay to juice more on one day and drink it all, knowing that you won’t be able to juice the next day. But if you are working on healing your body rather than just maintaining your existing health, please juice and drink it all within about 28 hours.
How much will it cost me to juice?
On average, we pay about $4.00 per pint for our produce. Estimate another $0.50 per pint for the prorated juicer cost and another $0.20 per pint for the juicer bags cost. That does not cover gas to do the shopping. By far the biggest cost is the time it takes to setup, juice, and clean up. For our juicer, which is a very slow, labor-intensive juicer, we can do about 10 pints in a little under 2 hours start to finish.
What type of juicer should I buy?
In my opinion an inexpensive juicer is better than no juicer, so get what you can afford. The type of juicer plays a big part in determining the amount of juice you get out of the produce, the value of the nutrients that you get, and the length of time the juice will last. The two main types of juicers are centrifugal juicers and cold press juicers (aka Masticating juicers). Centrifugal juicers utilize a very rapidly spinning blade that uses the centripetal force from a screen to separate the juice from the pulp. Centrifugal juicers are usually less expensive, and they tend to juice faster than cold press juicers. The disadvantages are that they tend to extract less juice from the pulp, and, due to their high speed, they tend to heat the juice to the point where they denature (destroy) the enzymes in the juice (which happens as low as 104°F). They also tend to oxidize the juice more, so it loses its nutritional content more rapidly.
Cold Press Juicers usually use some sort of hydraulic press or auger(s) to squeeze the juice. The cold press juicers get more of the juice out of the produce and they stay cool, which yields a higher nutritional quality juice. But they tend to cost more, and you will spend more time juicing.
I strongly recommend a cold press juicer for those who drink fresh juices for their nutritional value. We own several juicers, and for a moderately priced home use juicer we like the Omega NC800. It’s a $350 masticating juicer with a 15-year warranty and excellent reviews. It gives good yield, and is relatively fast to juice and very easy to clean up for a masticating juicer. If you are on a tight budget, watch the thrift stores. You can often get a slightly used $100 centrifugal juicer for about $10. It’s not ideal, but it’s a lot for the money.