Mother Earth Living

Drink your Medicine

Try these juice blends and smoothie recipes:

With juice bars and “elixir cafés” springing up in cities throughout North America, it’s tempting to think that juicing is a new trend. But it’s really just the latest manifestation of a centuries-old health practice. And in this new age of genetically modified, over- refined, chemical-laden nonfood, this “rediscovery” of juicing has never been more welcome.

Research consistently shows that people who consume the greatest quantity of fruits and vegetables are about half as likely to develop cancer as those who eat little or no fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not surprising that the United States Cancer Institute recommends eating five servings of fresh vegetables and three servings of fresh fruits daily. In fact, the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables hold the keys to preventing other illnesses, such as heart disease, as well as debilitating conditions such as asthma, arthritis, and allergies.

Still, even the most disciplined person can find it difficult to eat all those fruits and vegetables daily. So why not drink them? Raw fresh juices, blended drinks, and frozen treats are an easy and tasty way to ensure that adults and children get their “daily eight.”

The Benefits of Juicing

Easy assimilation. In whole fruits and vegetables (or even in drinks that contain pulp), some enzymes, phytochemicals, and vitamins A, C, and E–along with minerals such as iron, copper, potassium, sodium, iodine, and magnesium–are trapped in the indigestible fiber and cannot be assimilated by the body. But once “liberated” from the cellulose in pulp, those nutrients can be taken into the cells of the body within fifteen minutes (as compared to the hour or more it takes for nutrients to be assimilated from drinks with the pulp intact). This saves the energy required for digestion and allows the body to rest while detoxifying or cleansing, before or after physical activity, or while recovering from an illness.

Water supply. Our cells consist mostly of water, which is essential to their proper function. That’s why we should consume at least eight glasses of water daily. Unlike coffee, soft drinks and alcohol, which require the body to use stored water to metabolize them, raw juice supplies the water needed to replenish lost fluid while also providing all of the necessary vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytochemicals. Also, juices promote the alkalinity of body fluids, which is vital for proper immune and metabolic function.

Cleansing action. Raw juice has a laxative effect (more evident in fruit juices), which helps to rid the body of toxins. Detoxifying the system and cleansing the digestive tract and colon help clear the mind and balance moods. Cleansing also causes the metabolism to become more efficient and, if a whole-food diet is followed, the body will revert to its natural weight.

The spark of life. The living “greenpower” that is present in all living plants is available to the body when raw fresh juices are consumed. This “life force” is a natural quality that is lost in processing and when fruits and vegetables are stored.

Antioxidants. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which counteract the free radicals that can cause cellular damage and susceptibility to cancers and other illnesses.

Natural sugars. The sugars in fruits and vegetables come bundled with the goodness of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other phytochemicals that aren’t found in refined sugar. They deliver the same energy as pastries, candy, and soft drinks, but without the chemicals and fat.

Chlorophyll. Found only in plants, chlorophyll has a unique structure that allows it to enhance the body’s ability to produce hemoglobin, which enhances the delivery of oxygen to your cells.

Juicing as Part of a Healthy Diet

Juicing plays a major role in ensuring a healthy diet by making it easier to consume the recommended eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables. One large glass of pure, raw, fresh juice per day will help improve the immune system, increase energy, strengthen bones, clear skin and lower the risk of disease. For maximum benefit, consume a wide variety of juices from different types of organic herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Be sure to incorporate juices into a well-balanced, high-fiber, whole-food diet. Extracted juices should not completely replace whole fruits and vegetables because their fiber is important for eliminating toxins and preventing cancer.

A healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytochemicals, fiber, and water in proportions that promote growth and maintain vibrant, salubrious cells. Eat food in its natural and whole state where possible, avoiding packaged, refined, preserved, colored, pickled, salted, sweetened, and artificially flavored foods.

Foods for your juicer

Buy fresh. When choosing fruits and vegetables, make sure they are firm and ripe. Herbs should show no signs of wilting, yellowing, or rust. Buy only what you plan to use in the next day or two; longer storage will destroy live enzymes in plants. Ideally, you should shop daily for fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs you need to make the recipes featured here. If this is impractical, store them in the refrigerator for no more than two days. As a rule of thumb, 1 pound of produce yields roughly 1 to 11/2 cups of fresh juice.

Buy organic. Organic agriculture is a holistic method of farming based on ecological principles with the primary goal of creating a sustainable agricultural system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program defines this goal as “optimizing the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people. Management practices are carefully selected with an intent to restore and then maintain ecological harmony on the farm, its surrounding environment, and ultimately the whole planetary ecosystem.”

Organic farmers use the principles of recycling, interdependency, and diversity in their farm design and farming practices. Organic agriculture is about more than growing food without synthetic fertilizers and chemical biocides. Organic agriculture uses practices that benefit the planet as well as our bodies.

Because juicing uses fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs almost exclusively, organic produce is clearly the best choice.

Wash well. All fruits, vegetables, and herbs–even if they’re organic–should be washed, scrubbed, or soaked in a tub of cool water to which 2 tablespoons of food-grade peroxide or vinegar has been added. This will remove any soil, as well as bacteria that may have developed during transportation and handling. Spinach and leeks should be soaked to remove grit. Organic produce can be juiced with the skin on.

If you can’t find organically grown produce, you can use the conventional variety, but only if you wash as directed above and remove the peel. However, because pesticide concentrations are especially high in nonorganic apples, Chilean grapes, cucumbers, peaches, strawberries, and apricots, you might consider avoiding using them in juices.

A Word About Herbs

Some herbal practitioners recommend using whole fresh herbs for juicing. This is because, as with fruits and vegetables, only the whole fresh juice, taken immediately, captures the entire synergistic complex of healing ingredients locked within the cellular structure of the living plant.

Most herbalists work with dried form of herbs for medicinal teas because dried herbs are the most widely available and are easiest to store, transport, and work with. For the same reasons, with some exceptions, dried herbs are recommended for use in some of the juice recipes here. However, if fresh herbs are available, be sure to use them. Triple the quantity of fresh herbs for the amount of dried herbs in a recipe.

Adapted with permission from The Juicing Bible (Robert Rose, 2000) by Pat Crocker and Susan Eagles.

  • Published on May 1, 2001
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