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Juicing 101

We get a lot of questions in the Juice Bar, but one the most frequent is, “What is juicing, and what are the benefits?” There are a lot of answers to this question, and different people juice for different reasons, but if juicing is something you’re interested in, here’s some general information and guidelines to help keep you informed.

If you don’t enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, or if you can’t eat them as often as you’d like, juicing may be a fun way to add them to your diet. A juicer is essentially a powerful motor with teeth, breaking down cell walls and releasing nutrients into a solution that your body sucks up like a sponge. Juices contain most of the vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit or vegetable.
Many proponents of juicing say that drinking juice is better for you than eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber. There’s also evidence to suggest that juicing can reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immune system, help you remove toxins from your body, aid digestion, and help you lose weight. Surveys of people that have started adding juices to their diets reported marked improvements in immunity, digestion, allergies, women’s issues, and chronic illness. Juicing has also been reported to aid in many skin conditions such as eczema, skin eruptions, dryness, oiliness and susceptibility to sunburns. And in one survey, 87% of respondents reported better mental, emotional, and spiritual health after they started juicing.

Fresh juices can be used as healthy, easy-to-consume meal substitutes, and a day of juicing (often called a juice fast) can give the body a rest while supplying energy and nutrients and a juicing break might be a healthy way to begin a weight loss diet.

A juicing cleanse, or juice fast, is a short-term diet that limits caloric intake to freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices. For most people, the body’s detoxification systems do an adequate job of eliminating environmental or ingested toxins. But for others, unhealthy lifestyle habits can be difficult to break. A juice fast or cleanse may help you to kick-start some life changes.

Proponents of juice fasts say that a juice diet is a good way to start weight loss because juicing is an efficient way to digest and assimilate fruit and vegetable nutrients and phytochemicals without actually having to eat them. It’s basically an easy way to dramatically increase your fruit and vegetable intake and the benefits thereof; for example, you would need to eatfive cups of chopped carrots to get most of the nutrients found in a single cup of carrot juice. And because fruits and vegetables are relatively low-calorie, juices are as well, which makes them a great way to kick off a low-calorie diet.

Juice fast advocates also tout the benefits of detoxification.

Despite its numerous health benefits, juicing does have its downsides. Some experts claim that there’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. Some experts also argue that the claims that enzymes and nutrients in juice are absorbed faster than those in whole fruits and vegetables are unsubstantiated.

While adding a daily juice to your diet isn’t generally considered dangerous, there are health risks associated with juice fasts. Because juice fasts provide nutrients but eliminate most fiber and protein content from the diet, they aren’t safe for everyone. There’s evidence to suggest that juice fasts for diabetics could send blood sugar levels soaring. For those with kidney disease, high levels of potassium and minerals can build up in the blood to hazardous levels. And for people undergoing chemotherapy, juicing is generally not recommended because of low levels of protein.
And while many people say juice fasts help with weight-loss, any fluids-only diet can result in rapid weight loss. Many times, this is actually due to dehydration. Many juice fasts are also low in calories, which can send the body into starvation mode, slowing the metabolism so that your lost weight returns right away when you resume eating solid foods. Electrolyte loss, nutritional deprivation and blood-sugar problems are also dangers. Remember to speak with a nutritionist or doctor for guidance before you consider a juice fast.

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