Ripe and raw, preferably organically grown, fresh fruit and vegetables are part of a bioactive (active, high vitality) diet that is essential for a healthy diet. Potentially, some of them even reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Unfortunately, for most of us, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is often limited, or insufficient to say the least.
In this case, juices and smoothies are two delicious ways we have to increase it.
What is a Juice?
Juice is the natural fluid or liquid part that can be extracted from a particular plant, from a fruit, but also from certain vegetables.
It is obtained by extraction: a process that consists of extracting nutritious juices from fresh, whole fruits and vegetables, essentially removing all fibrous solids including seeds and pulp.
The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants naturally present in the whole fruit or vegetable.
Pure juice never has added sugars, additives or preservatives.
A juice is a simple way of drinking your food! Rather than forcing your body to digest solids, you give your body a break by feeding your system a generous supply of nutrients that are easily (and quickly) absorbed into your bloodstream.
What is the purpose of a fruit or vegetable juice?
Juices are generally used for two purposes:
1. Purification or detoxification
Detoxifying your body releases harmful toxins that can make weight loss difficult, but can also cause a general inflammatory state. By incorporating juices into your diet, you are able to speed up the fat burning process, while ensuring that you get the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay in shape.
In this instance the juice is consumed over a period of 3 days up to several weeks.
Although it is widely believed that consuming juice purifies the body of toxins, there is no scientific evidence to support this thesis despite all the known health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
2. Complementing a classic diet
According to experts, we should eat at least 6 to 8 servings of vegetables per person per day but, as you can imagine, few people meet this need. Juices can help them achieve this goal.
Fresh juices can be used as a convenient supplement to our daily diet, increasing the nutrient intake present in fruits and vegetables that we wouldn’t otherwise consume.
In fact, our food consumption has become depleted in nutrients for two main reasons:
- on the one hand the increasing dependence on industrialized products,
- on the other hand, the levels and quality of nutrients in today’s available food supply are much lower than before: the time it takes to get produce from the field to the supermarket, the processing methods that the food undergoes, and the poverty and polluted state of our soils make them nutritionally poor.
As a result, we are mostly deficient.
What are the benefits of juices?
- A major energy boost
- A clear and radiant skin
- Rapid weight loss
- A better quality of sleep
- Stimulated mental clarity and concentration
- Soft, shiny hair and nails
- Improved digestion
- It also has the power to eliminate migraines and reduce joint pain.
When you squeeze your fruits and vegetables, you can get more concentrated and more easily absorbed nutrients.
To make juice, we will also use more fruit than we would if we ate it.
Studies have shown that 14 weeks of fruit and vegetable juice supplementation improved consumers’ levels of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and folate.
A large study found a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those who drank fruit and vegetable juices three or more times a week compared to those who drank less than once a week. The reduced risk may be due to the high levels of polyphenols in the juices: these antioxidants in plant-based foods are believed to protect brain cells.
Fruit juices can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Apple and pomegranate juices have been associated with a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Finally, consuming fruit and vegetable juices in liquid form may reduce homocysteine levels and markers of oxidative stress, both of which are linked to improved heart health.
Juice advocates suggest that eating fibre-free fruits and vegetables gives your body a break from the hard work of digestion. They also suggest that it improves the absorption of nutrients.
An analysis by Trusted Source confirmed that beta-carotene, a beneficial carotenoid, obtained from fruit and vegetable juices rather than whole foods, leads to higher levels of beta-carotene in the blood.
Numerous studies show that higher levels of beta-carotene in plasma or blood predict a lower risk of cancer.
Researchers have reported that soluble fibre reduces the absorption of beta-carotene by 30-50%.
It should be noted that in certain diseases and malabsorption conditions, diets low in fibre and residues are recommended. In these cases, the use of juices would be appropriate.
What are the draw backs?
It is important to note a few draw backs…
Take vitamin C for example: it is a vitamin that oxidizes extremely quickly, exposed to air it loses its effectiveness within 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Fruit and vegetable juices lack important fiber. Juice consumption should therefore be balanced with that of smoothies (which I will discuss in my next article) so as not to miss other important compounds present in the pulp and membranes of foods.
As for sugar – in this case fructose, the natural sugar of the fruit – it could be a major disadvantage of juices, which can increase blood sugar levels. Some commercially available juices contain as much or more sugar as soft drinks!
Juice extraction methods:
Juice extraction methods vary from pressing the fruit by hand, using a masticating juicer extractor, a centrifuge, or even a motorized juicer.
The fruits and vegetables you can use in your juices depend on the centrifuge or extractor: some are strong/powerful enough to squeeze whole lemons, while others cannot handle the tough peel.
There are two common types of juicers:
These machines grind fruits and vegetables into pulp with a cutting blade and a high-speed rotating action. Centrifugation also separates the juice from the solids.
The masticating juicer extractor
Also known as a juicer, it crushes and squeezes fruits and vegetables much more slowly to get as much juice as possible.
The nutritional quality of the juice obtained using a centrifuge and a cold extractor is more or less the same.
I personally prefer the masticating juicer extractor: its slower crushing non-heating action preserves the micronutrients.
Juicing is the process of extracting and drinking the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables.
Some people do it to detoxify themselves, others to supplement their current diet.
Pure juices ideally homemade with fresh, ripe and organic products have many advantages:
- Concentration of nutrients
Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Better absorption of nutrients
- Optimal digestion for people who have difficulty eating their vegetables or digesting them (they get the nutritional benefits, their delicious taste without the digestive worries)
- Protection and prevention against diseases.
It is however also important to take into account:
- The high sugar ( fructose) content of some juices
- Lack of fibre (essential for proper digestion, blood sugar control and reducing the risk of heart disease).
Despite all these very encouraging results, further studies are still needed to better understand the health effects of fruit and vegetable juices.
My personal stance:
Faced with an industrial food products devoid of real nutritional value, fresh fruits and vegetables will be beneficial to you except in the presence of specific pathologies or certain intolerances and allergies.
It is important to find a balance between vegetables and fruits in order to promote and increase the benefits of juices and to counterbalance fructose levels.
Favour homemade fruit AND vegetable juices by making sure to consume them immediately.
If time or convenience dictates that you must prepare them ahead of time, be sure to :
- Avoid leaving fresh juices exposed to the air, store them appropriately as soon as they have been squeezed.
- Fill your (airtight) bottles to their maximum capacity in order to reduce oxidation ( through exposure to oxygen left in the bottle- empty space).
- Add a piece of lemon, orange or grapefruit to your juice to reduce nutritional loss such as vitamins, citric acid and other antioxidants, and slow down oxidation.
- Keep them in airtight glass containers in the fridge.
- If you take them with you when you travel or to work, school etc, keep your juice in a Vacuum flask or stainless steel bottle that will keep them cool, you can also add 2 to 3 ice cubes to your juice, or take them with you in a small ice box.
- Consume your juice within 24 hours.
Discover below one of my favorite juices!