“Juicing” is a hot topic in the nutrition world. Certainly, it’s not for everyone (diabetics, for example, need to take caution). But if done the right way, making your own sweet, tasty beverages at home can provide a host of benefits. “Juicing can be healthy in a lot of ways—if done properly,” says Dr. Ken Winnard of OneLife Health and Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, whose clinic focuses on prevention and education of nutrition and lifestyle.
First, Dr. Winnard points out who might not want to juice. “Let’s take, for example, if someone concentrates fruit into a juice but has underlying pre-diabetes and isn’t aware of it—because there are a lot of folks flying under the radar with pre-diabetes or unable to regulate sugars consistently. They may do more harm than good by juicing,” he says. “It’s important to know what’s happening on the inside, to have some lab work done and be evaluated by a medical professional.” A juicer takes fruits and vegetables from their original forms and removes components like fiber, so the remaining juice has a higher sugar content and glycemic load. “Even though it’s a natural sugar, it’s still sugar,” says Dr. Winnard. “That means you’re going to get a bigger strike in the bloodstream, and that can be detrimental to certain people. Or, if you’re juicing too often or not in the right setting, it can lead to unfavorable health consequences.” Ruling out food sensitivities and inflamed gut are also crucial before deciding to juice.
That said, for the ideal candidate, juicing is a wonderful alternative to grabbing a supermarket juice packed with excessive amounts of sugar. The nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost minerals in the body that it might have been lacking. Other studies have found that incorporating fresh juice into your diet can improve energy and mood, help support the immune system, and prevent certain ailments. If you want to give it a go, follow these tips from the expert.
The Detox Debate
Knowing how often to juice is person-specific, according to Dr. Winnard, but it’s best when done as a supplement to the whole foods you’re already eating rather than as a replacement for food. “We add juicing in sometimes to boost that nutrient load,” he says. “When I see programs, cleanses, and detoxes, a lot of them are cookie-cutter and one-size-fits-all, and that’s just not how people are. Everyone’s different. Everyone needs their specific nutrition based on what their body needs.” To that end, he says his clinic doesn’t recommend juicing by itself very often: “We need to make sure that people are getting enough nutrient-dense, high-quality foods that help drive their health forward. Having somebody just juice for an extended period of time, like with some cleanses, can prevent you from getting the calorie intake you need to maintain muscle mass or proper nutrition.”
Nutrient-dense veggies like beets, carrots, celery, spinach, and cucumber paired with a smaller amount of fruit such as apple or pear are ideal and tasty. “To keep the sugar load down, you want to use less fruit and more veggies,” Dr. Winnard advises. He says using coconut water or regular water is fine and even adding a little bit of fresh orange juice can help improve the flavor profile. Two juice blends his clinic recommends include carrot, lemon, and ginger and cucumber, celery, and apple.
Do It Yourself
Dr. Winnard’s cardinal rule: Make your own juice. “If you’re going to juice, you want to be buying the best ingredients you can get and making the juice yourself,” he says, adding that he recommends visiting a local farmers market or having produce delivered straight from a farmer. “That way, you know exactly what’s in it and not adding sugar or
processed sugars or other processed foods to make it taste better.” Another word of advice is to follow the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” list to help you reduce exposure to toxic chemicals when deciding to buy organic or
non-organic fruits and veggies.
The Right Stuff
Create the perfect at-home juice bar with tips from the pros
Invest in a good juicer. If you use a blender, the fiber and skin of the fruit or vegetable will be in the liquid that you’re going to consume. With a juicer, everything breaks down into concentrated macro and micronutrient levels. Dr. Winnard recommends a Breville juicer (pictured here).
Buy locally and organically. Amber Eichling, owner of Fruits and Roots Vegan Cafe in Stuart, recommends visiting local farm stands like Stuart Green Market and CoLab Farms for your produce. Kai-Kai Farm in Indiantown even offers delivery service, and, in a pinch, Sprouts and Whole Foods are also good options.
Find the right blend. Fruits and Roots Vegan Cafe is known for its array of flavor- forward juices. Take a cue from Eichling by starting with greens (kale, romaine, spinach, etc.) and adding fruit, like an apple or pineapple, to sweeten things up. “Cucumber and celery are also a wonderful addition to juices because they are chock-full of nutrients and yield a lot of juice,” she says.