It is a frightening statistic that in the UK on average we are consuming around 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which is in stark contrast to the UK Government ‘5 A day’ message that we are all aware of. Each portion of fruit and vegetables eaten a day gives 20% of our daily needs of antioxidant and protective nutrients so it is essential that we optimise this intake for our own individual well-being. Juices and ‘Smoothies’ provide one alternative method to help optimise ones nutritional intake on a daily basis.
Our article this week is provided by Nutritional Therapist Tess Strom who lectures on the Juicing for Health Short Course at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine). Here she introduces us to the nutritional benefits of DIY juicing, and provides a ‘Bloat away’ recipe as an example of how juices can be useful in addressing specific health conditions.
Juicing may be considered by many to be the latest health craze, but the use of juicing for health can be dated back as far as Hippocrates (470BC), the great healer and father of Western medicine. He was a strong believer in the use of juices for maintaining health and treating disease.
So was physician and herbalist John Halt (1575),who treated scurvy (vitamin C deficiency commonly developed by sailors) with watercress and herb juice which was packed with vitamin C.
In more modern times Norman Walker stands out as the great proponent of juicing, having developed the first cold-press juicer which is still very much being used today. He passed away in his sleep at the ripe old age of 99 in 1985,not a bad feat.
Furthermore, a British Ministry of Health publication in the 1950’s noted:“Juices are valuable in the relief of hypertension, cardiovascular and kidney disease and obesity”.
Scientific evidence aside, it is of course important to distinguish between raw, freshly made juices and the pasteurized juices you find on many supermarket shelves. For longevity those juices have to go through a heating process, which unfortunately compromises and even destroys some of the fragile and complex nutrients and antioxidants that give the juices their healing powers in the first place.
The span of this article is too short for details on which particular juicer to use. However, what I do advise is to get the best juicer your budget allows. I highly recommend masticating (cold-pressed) juicers as opposed to centrifugal.
Centrifugal juicers use high speed to extract the juice, this heats the juice slightly as well as whips in oxygen, so reduces the quality. Masticating juicers on the other hand, due to slow speed, do not affect the juice adversely so can be stored in the fridge in airtight containers (ideally glass, filled to the top) for up to 48 hours.
Is Organic Necessary?
Another consideration when juicing is to decide on organic versus non-organic produce. Again, I recommend using as many organic fruit and vegetables that your budget allows in order to reduce residues from toxic pesticides. It is important to note that even organic fruit and vegetables can be waxed and it is particularly common with citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and oranges. If possible include the peel, as many nutrients in plants are contained right underneath the skin, however, if waxed always peel.
Ideally also use organic green leafy vegetables as well as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale (these have a tendency to absorb a lot of toxins from the soil). Berries are difficult to wash properly and cannot be peeled so also use organic.
Juice or Smoothie?
I am a great believer in variety when it comes to food consumption. Your body needs various vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants and as no one food contains all these nutrients, it is important to rotate what you consume. Consuming the same type of foods, whether raw, cooked, processed, juiced or blended can get boring and can potentially create food intolerances. For these reasons, alternate between juices and smoothies depending on what you feel your body requires on the day.
Juices are fantastic liquid nourishment with numerous benefits:
- Gentle on the body – the juicing process takes out most of the roughage or insoluble fibre via the pulp, this enable the nutrients to be absorbed by the body almost instantly. This is great in cases of compromised digestion, weakness or nutritional deficiencies.
- Optimum intake of nutrients – for many, the ideal ratio of vegetables to consume is around 20g per kg of body weight, i.e. over a kilo of vegetables per day. This can be quite daunting for some to chew through. By juicing some of the vegetables, the optimal amount of nutrients can be absorbed by the body.
- Variety – it is a lot easier to experiment and vary your intake of vegetables when juicing rather than eating the same old salad or steamed vegetables day after day. Have fun with it!
- Choice – although juices are fantastic for nutrition, as most fibre is taken out, the use of too much fruit can play havoc with your blood sugar. It is therefore important to minimise usage of most fruit and to a lesser degree starchy vegetables such as carrots and beetroot, focusing instead on green leafy vegetables, sprouts, herbs, cucumber, celery, lemon and lime. This is particularly important for diabetics.
I encourage my clients to consume at least one fresh juice a day and an ideal time is either first thing in the morning or as an afternoon snack on an empty stomach, when the nutrients will be absorbed the quickest. Smoothies on the other hand can be more substantial so are great as quick breakfast options.
Smoothies too have numerous benefits:
- Fibre – as the whole fruit and vegetable is blended in a smoothie, fibre intake is maximised, which is great for satiety and to keep our bowel movements regular.
- Pre-digested – although we are using the whole fruit and vegetable, due to the blending process, the cell walls of the plants are broken down to more digestible liquids, so they are easier to digest than when chewing whole foods.
- Great base – Smoothies are suitable for adding foods such as seeds, nuts, spices, and green, energy and protein powders as well as ‘super foods’.
- Blood sugar balance–fibre slows down the speed at which glucose from the smoothie is absorbed, thereby slowing the effect on blood sugar levels. Theoretically one can therefore use slightly more fruit or starchy vegetables in a smoothie than a juice. I still recommend no more than ½ an apple or equivalent fruit per juice/ For picky eaters, start with higher amounts of fruit. However these should ideally be replaced by less sweet ingredients over time.
How to Make Healthy and Nutritious Juices and Smoothies
To start off you need a base:
- Cucumber – high in water content and low in calories. Also light on flavour, yet it contains a surprising number of nutrients,making it excellent for hydration.Use ¼ – ½ cucumber per juice/smoothie.
- Celery –low in calories, celery is also high in nutrients that help protect the integrity of the stomach lining, as well as providing anti-inflammatory properties. Use ½ – 3 stalks per juice/smoothie.
- Liquids– in smoothies add filtered water, coconut water, chilled herbal and green teas, dairy free milks such as coconut, almond, hazelnut, hemp, or if tolerated dairy milk. Due to often being difficult to digest, I do not recommend soya milk.
- Apples & Pears – contain the soluble fibre pectin, which soothes the intestinal wall, reduces constipation and improves the balance of flora in the gut.
- Lemons and Limes – although acidic fruits, they have a highly alkalising effect on the body. High in nutrients these are great for adding some low calorie sweetness. Use ¼ – ½ per juice.
- Pineapple– contains bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme that has been found effective in digestive health, pain relief and inflammation.
- Blueberries – also referred to as brain berries, high in antioxidants they help improve memory and clarity.
- Cruciferous vegetables – cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower have an incredible ability to mop up toxins from our body, so include them in your diet, whether juiced or steamed.
- Herbs & Spices – all packed with nutrients, they are very potent, so start with small amounts. Fresh herbs are best but dried spices can be used. Experiment with your favourite flavours.
- Leafy Greens – kale, watercress, rocket, dandelion leaves, lettuce and chard are all rich in vitamin C and magnesium. They have healing benefits and are great detoxifiers.
- Sprouts –sprouts are some of the most nutrition packed foods on the planet. High in many vitamins and minerals, and surprisingly, also protein. Experiment with varieties from alfalfa too.
- Superfoods – there are so many: lucuma, cacao, maca, acai, spirulina, wheatgrass, bee pollen, matcha, moringa, baobab, to name a few. Rotate your choice and have fun!
My clients, and the Juicing Course students I teach at CNM, are always amazed when I show them how certain plants also have specific healing properties that are useful for various conditions. Whether you want to promote general gut health and digestive processes, kick-start your immune system, reduce inflammation, boost your energy, increase mental clarity, there are key natural ingredients that will deliver specific benefits.
To give you a little taster, as digestive issues are unfortunately very common in today’s society, I have included the recipe for a juice, which I have found particularly helpful for a lot of my clients. It is great for soothing the gut as well as easing bloating and gas and can even help reduce stomach ulcers. Cabbage juice is remarkably mellow and sweet in taste, so do not let its inclusion put you off this juice!
‘Bloat Away’ Juice Recipe
3 cabbage leaves – you can use any type if cabbage (work up to ½ cabbage in cases of stomach ulcers)
½ -1 pear or 3 slices fresh pineapple
1 inch ginger
4-6 mint leaves
Wash, chop and juice all ingredients.
Cabbage juice has the ability to relieve acid reflux symptoms. Additionally, cabbage contains sulforaphane, which is capable of fighting Heliobacter Pylori (H. Pylori), the bacteria found to play a role in the development of peptic or stomach ulcers. Pear contains the soluble fibre pectin, which soothes the intestinal wall, reduces constipation and improves the balance of flora in the gut. Pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme, which not only assists in digesting proteins but also has the ability to reduce bloating, gas and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has also been shown to have a lowering effect on inflammation in irritable bowel diseases (IBD). Ginger is calming to the digestive system and helps reduce flatulence. Mint has a relaxing effect on the digestive tract and can help relieve spasms and cramps.
If you do not already juice, I truly hope this has inspired you to want to investigate further how you can make vegetable juices a part of your daily life.
Wishing you Happy Juicing!
Tess Strom is a registered Nutritional Therapist. She lectures on the Juicing for Health Short Course at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine), and will also be lecturing on CNM’s newly created Natural Chef Course. For information on CNM Diploma Courses, Postgraduate Courses and Short Courses in a range of natural therapies, visit www.naturopathy-uk.com
Tess is available for consultations on optimum health and nutrition in South East London, Canary Wharf and the City of London. She can be reached on 07949 081 659 or email@example.com.
With many thanks to Tess for this brilliant article. If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
Amanda Williams, Cytoplan Ltd
firstname.lastname@example.org, 01684 310099