Juicing – the whys and wherefores

Juices are cleansing and restoring and generally they feature strongly in any detoxification program. The amount of juices you include in your daily diet is a matter of personal choice. Just one freshly made juice each day can make a huge difference to your health and well-being. At the other end of the scale a week of juice ‘feasting’ can help you lose weight, get rid of minor health issues, improve your skin, give you greater mental clarity – the benefits are many.

Juices are a great way to improve your health, restore your energy, restore vitality and generally give you a boost. They are a very convenient way of getting a lot of nutrition into your body very quickly, since they are high in bio-available vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phyto-nutrients and antioxidants. Juicing retains 95% of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables.

Because the fibre has been separated from the water and nutrient part of the fruits or vegetables the juices can be digested very quickly and easily by the body. As a result your digestive system gets something of a rest and your body can then put its energy into other vital activities, besides digestion, such as detoxification, elimination, recovery and healing.

Juices are created by extracting the liquid portion of a fruit or vegetable. This can happen in a number of ways depending upon the machine used:

The most basic and cheapest type of juicer is the centrifugal juicer. These have some form of grater or cutting disc to break up the plant fibres. The resulting pulp is then forced against a high-speed revolving basket and through centrifugal action the juice is flung out through the holes in the basket. Centrifugal juicers are generally very quick in operation and easy to clean.

However they do not perform as well with leafy greens, and they tend to produce a lot of ‘wet’ waste. The downside of centrifugal juicers is that because of the high-speed cutting action of the blade and resultant heat, produce tends to oxidize, which results in damage to the enzymes and nutrients in the juice. This is not such a problem if you drink the juice immediately or if you are not overly concerned with juice quality, but if you are juicing for therapeutic reasons then it is advisable to go for a masticating juicer.

Masticating Juicers have a single or twin gear which crushes and presses the produce and then strains the juice through a screen. These produce the best quality juice because they do not heat the juice (no oxidation), and they are far more efficient at extracting all the liquid, resulting a drier pulp and more juice. They can also handle all types of fruit and vegetables.

The disadvantages of a masticating juicer are that they are much slower in operation and tend to be more difficult and time consuming to clean. They are also much more expensive.

You can juice almost anything, it is really down to personal preference and the results you are trying to achieve. Fruits tend to produce the sweetest juice and to the uninitiated green juices may seem bitter to start with. Apples or pineapples are good for making green vegetables juices slightly sweeter and more palatable. The citrus fruits can ‘lift’ the flavour of a green juice. Ginger is good for giving a ‘bit of a kick’ to a juice.

Fruits for juicing:
Apples, pineapple, pears, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, watermelon

Vegetables for juicing:
Carrots, beetroot, broccoli, celery, cucumber, fennel, root ginger, lettuce, spinach, cabbage

So experiment and see what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try unusual combinations – the wider your variety of fruits and vegetables the better.