Essential Guide to Juicing
Your Essential Guide to Juicing – All the juicy gossip about the hot health trend
According to experts, evidence of our ancestors using fruit juices for their medicinal qualities, dates back to before 150 BC – the historic Dead Sea Scrolls (an ancient historical artefact) depicted people mashing pomegranates and figs, supposedly for ‘profound strength and subtle form’.
It was not until the 1930s, however – after nutritional expert Dr Norman Walker invented the Norwalk Triturator Hydraulic Press Juicer – that juicing really took off. As well as becoming a trend for keen dieters, the more intensive health benefits of juicing were also realised around this time. Dr Max Gerson notably developed the disease-fighting Gerson Therapy – which used an extraordinary amount of organically-grown, juiced, fruits and vegetables to flood the body with nutrients. Originally intended to fight his own troubles with migraines, the treatment was eventually used to help those with degenerative diseases, such as skin tuberculosis, diabetes and, famously, cancer.
Is it as healthy as you think?
Well, opinions are mixed here, as juicing can be a great, healthy addition to your diet, but can just as easily lead to an increased intake of sugar – whether it’s natural sugar or refined.
We’re all fairly ‘clued-up’ on the sugar content of ready-made juices; unless stating otherwise, many fruit and veg-based juice drinks on the market contain an unsightly amount of sugar and sweeteners. A lot of this is down to fructose (the natural sugar found in fruit), so even if a drink contains only a small amount of refined sugar, or no added sugar at all, you could still be seriously increasing your daily intake through ingesting large amounts of sweet fruit (some juices can equate to over nine teaspoons of sugar!).
However, because many cold-pressed juices are served fresh, they usually preserve a large amount of the vitamins and minerals of the fruit and vegetables. Admittedly, the juice usually doesn’t retain 100 per cent of the fibre content of the original ingredients, but it’s a great way to top up your diet with added vitamins and minerals, especially since some studies have suggested that the nutrients in juices can be better absorbed by the body.
It’s a great option for those who aren’t a fan of eating fresh fruit and veg and is also a useful solution for those struggling with digestive issues, as there’s barely any work for the body to do in order to digest the juice. They can still be very filling, but quite low in calories, hence why many turn to them as a dieting solution. Some medical professionals, such as Dr. Mercola, (mercola.com) also state that juicing can help boost your immune system, as your body will be ‘supercharged’ with phytochemicals.
However, intense juice detoxes are not currently supported by medical professionals, nor scientific studies. Explained succinctly in a report published by Harvard Health Publishing, of Harvard Medical School, ‘your body comes with a natural detoxification system in the form of the kidneys and liver. Healthy liver and kidneys filter the blood, expel toxins and cleanse the body continuously. The intestines are also capable of daily ‘detox’ with the help of fibre-rich wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water.’ So there’s no need to suffer a ‘detox diet’.
The best ingrediens
Carrots: Containing beta-carotene, a nutrient which your body naturally turns into vitamin A, alongside plenty of antioxidants and even some cancer-fighting carotenoids – as suggested by several studies – carrots are a great addition to a juice. They’re also naturally sweet, without being high in fructose, unlike fruits such as grapes and pears.
Spinach: Lean, green and packed full of vitamin K, iron, folate and more, spinach can amp up the nutrient value of a juice immensely. Plus, it’s not particularly strong in flavour, so can be overtaken by a sweeter fruit or vegetable, to help give the juice a pleasant all-round taste.
Cucumber: With up to 95 per cent of a cucumber being water content, not only is this a great-tasting base for a juice, it boasts definite hydration qualities, too. It’s also very low in calories and contains vitamin C and fibre, alongside manganese and lignans – which are said to help fight cardiovascular disease, reportedly.
Ginger: A far better option than adding a sugar or syrup, spices such as ginger can bring out the natural sweetness of your raw ingredients. Ginger specifically has been known to help settle the stomach, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
5 top tips to be a jucing genius
- Savoury before sweet – Fruit juice is delicious, but high in fructose (natural sugars). Therefore, to keep the nutrient value of your juice high, but the sugar level as low as possible, start with a base of vegetables or savoury fruits (like cucumber). Then sweeten the juice with a small amount of sweet fruit, like raspberries, or add a tart twist with a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice.
- Brave your least-favourite fruit and veg – Juicing is a great way of hiding your less preferred fruit and vegetables in a tasty, quick-to-consume drink. As long as you add a few herbs or spices, a squeeze of citrus or a handful of sweet fruit, you’ll never notice!
- Don’t get a raw deal – Cruciferous vegetables contain natural chemicals called goitrogens, which have been known to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. There is more evidence needed to determine how heavily this will affect you, but the goitrogens in these foods are made inactive through cooking – even a very light steam. So if you’re planning on a broccoli smoothie (and we commend you for your plant-based dedication if you are) consider cooking the vegetable, just slightly, beforehand.
- Don’t use pre-made fruit juices – There’s no need to put your juice out-of-whack by adding a super-sweet, shop-bought fruit juice. Instead, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, opt for a vitamin-rich squeeze of fresh orange and pair it with a sprinkle of spice (fresh ginger or cinnamon are lovely choices).
- Keep it cool – Try and consume your juice while it’s still super fresh (straight out the blender is best). But if you’re planning on taking it to work, pop it in the fridge to ensure it retains its texture – as some juices can split a little if left in the warm.
Find lots of information on ingredients in our glossary.
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