Depending on what health circle you travel in (if any), you may already understand the many benefits of drinking fresh green juice. This post is written for those of you who don’t really get what all the hype is about, but are interested in feeling great and giving yourself the best life insurance policy around: a healthy diet. I have been a big fan of juicing for over a decade, much longer than I’ve been eating paleo (about 4 years now).
I’m surprised that so few people in the paleo world talk about or promote juicing as part of an optimal paleo lifestyle. While I haven’t been drinking green juice consistently for the last decade, the periods of life that I do dedicate myself to it are always when I feel fullest of life.
So knowing I feel so gosh darned great when I drink juice, you may be wondering why I don’t do it every single day? The same reason I dont exercise or eat perfectly everyday, I suppose. Sometimes I create the time to make it a priority and sometimes I don’t.
I’m going to give you some tips below to integrate juicing more easily into your life, but I also won’t sugarcoat it: it takes time, a bit of extra money and cleanup. But it truly is, in my humble opinion, the very best thing you can to to maintain your health.
The benefits that come in return for my time and money investment include:
- gentle daily detox
- reduced joint pain and inflammation
- gut repair
- mega immune support
- radical improvements in mental clarity and energy
- reduced sugar cravings
- weight and cellulite loss
- more concentrated nutrition than I can find in most things.
Frequently asked questions about juicing:
Q: What’s the difference between green juice and smoothies and how do I know what’s right for me?
A: I believe that both can (and should) be a part of a healthy diet, especially in warmer months (I’m not a fan of smoothies in the winter). Smoothies are a great meal replacement that can be loaded up with superfood supplements like frozen berries, leafy greens, delicious nut butter, high-quality protein powder, superfood green powders, healthy fats (I love MCT oil or coconut oil in mine), colostrum and other things that will keep you full for hours. Smoothies are also pretty fast to make: throw it all in the blender and is easily portable.
Juicing strips all of the fiber out of fruits and veggies, so you are able to consume far more of it than you could if you tried to blend it all up. When I juice, I never just make 1 glass…I make about 1/2 gallon, which Craig and I drink throughout the day and comes from about 3 pounds of veggies. It would take me days to eat that many veggies with all of the fiber intact. The beauty of juicing, especially when you drink it on an empty stomach, is that the nutrients are very easily assimilated by your body and put to work. For people who have compromised digestion (most people), drinking fresh juice is the best way to fuel your body with all of the vital nutrients and enzymes from fresh produce.
Q: How do I know what to put in my juice?
A: This isn’t a straightforward answer. When you begin juicing, you may find that you need a higher ratio of fruit, beets and carrots to make the green vegetables palatable. Over time, you want to get yourself to the place where your juices are mostly green veggies with a touch of sweetness (more on this later). Since all of the fiber is stripped out, a very sweet juice can spike your blood sugar, which isn’t optimal, especially if you already have blood sugar issues. If you want to know for sure how your juices are affecting your blood sugar, I highly recommend a blood sugar meter. Here is a helpful article to help you test at right times and the levels you should be aiming for.
Q: What’s the best juicer to buy?
A: I’ve heard it said that its the one you will actually use and I couldn’t agree more. When I first started juicing, I bough the top-of-the-line juicer and it cost me $1,500 USED on eBay! It made the most exquisite juice but took FOREVER to clean! Once the novelty wore off, it simply collected dust. On the other spectrum are the cheap juicers that are easy to clean buy yield less juice and there’s more oxidation due to the way the juice is made. This may not be considered optimal by a juicing aficionado, but if it gets the juice in your body when you otherwise wouldn’t drink it, carry on.
The 2 basic types of juicers are centrifugal and masticating.
Centrifugal juicers are cheaper, easier to clean and make juice more quickly.
Masticating juicers are more expensive, can have a couple more parts, take a bit longer, but yields much drier pulp and the juice lasts longer with less oxidations meaning you get more nutrients.
Here’s a comparison chart I found here.
I have had lots of juicers, some better than others. I have liked the Breville if you want a centrifugal juicer. If you are new to juicing this may be a better bet for you.
Now that I have entered the land of masticating juicers, though, I won’t be going back. The juice tastes better, it lasts longer (I often make a bunch of juice and drink over a 2 day period and it still tastes good and has more vitamins intact), and the yield of juice for the veggies is far greater. You know this because the pulp is much drier. We have this Omega juicer now and I love it. I will admit that I HATED it the first couple times I used it because I was used to the Breville, but once I got a bit of patience and learned to alternate hard and soft veggies, I was good to go. I have also heard good things about the Kuvings juicer.
Note: you will want to invest in some nut milk bags for the Omega as the juice that comes out can be pulpy.
Here’s a detailed post on choosing the right juicer.
Q: Do I need to buy a juicer to make juice?
A: In the long run, I would highly recommend it, but no. You can blend your ingredients really well in the blender with some water and strain through a nut milk bag. This is not something I’ve personally done, but I know it does work!
Q: Should I do a juice fast or a detox or just start drinking it with food?
A: Detoxes and cleanses have become all the rage in the last couple years. I have done more of these than I can count. If you are going to do a fast/detox, I recommend consulting a naturopathic doctor for guidance. If you’ve never detoxed before and dive in head-first, you can make yourself really sick with how quickly your body will begin to release toxins. Most people don’t realize how many toxins are in our environment in the air, water, food we eat and all of the plastic surrounding us.
While any amount of juice in your body is good, you will be far better off making juicing a part of your regular life, not just something you do 1-2 times a year. Over the last several months, I have gotten into the habit of making my coffee with MCT oil and butter when I wake up and then drinking several glasses of juice afterwards and not having my first solid meal until 2pm. This may not work for everyone, but its working very well for me. I’m not sure if its technically intermittent fasting, but with my solid food window narrowed to 4-6 hours a day, my body isn’t constantly digesting food, which allows it to focus on repairing other parts of my body. Its also helping my post-baby weight loss.
If you want to eat throughout the day still, I recommend drinking juice on an empty stomach so you can get the rapid absorption of vitamins into your bloodstream. Morning and mid-afternoon juices are awesome.
How to make the perfect juice (in my humble opinion)
- Start with a green veggie base. I like cucumber, celery, fennel, cabbage and lettuce. This will be about 60-70% of the volume of your juice.
- Add greens. Kale, chard, collard greens, mustard greens (hot), dandelion greens (bitter but oh so good for you). This will be about 15% of the volume.
- Add something to sweeten it up like carrots, beets, apple, pear, red/yellow/orange bell peppers or pineapple. This will be 10-20% of the volume.
- Super additions: Fresh turmeric and ginger are a must in all of my juices. Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, mint and oregano are awesome. I also always add lemon or lime as it helps cut the bitterness of the dandelion greens (which I almost always add, too). 5% of volume.Note: Buying organic juicing ingredients is VERY important! If you juice non-organic stuff, the pesticides are going to end up in your juice and in your body! This is even more important with juicing than eating veggies since the fiber has ben stripped away.
How to save money on your juicing supplies
- Remember that juicing is a mega-investment in your health and any investment requires…an investment in time and money. I’d rather spend a little more money on groceries now than huge hospital bills, lost pay due to sickness, etc. You know what they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- Plant your own garden! With a bit of initial time and money investment, you can grow all of your juicing supplies in your own back yard almost for free. Here is an awesome gardening course that will teach you exactly how to do it so you can have a great crop in your very first season.
- Make friends with the farmers at the farmers market and offer to take their end-of-market leftovers off their hands for a fraction of the price. Some may look less than perfect, but the juicer don’t care!
- Buy a used juicer on Craigslist or eBay. Just make sure it still works well. Unfortunately, many people buy juicers with the best intentions and rarely use them, but that means you can get one thats still got lots of miles left on it!
- If you cant garden or shop at the farmers market, get your organic veggies at Costco or Sprouts vs Whole Foods. They come from the same vendors and are usually about 25% less.
When juicing just isn’t an option…
Whether you’re traveling or have no extra time, juicing at home may not be an option for you. While nothing can truly compare to a freshly pressed juice, there is a green juice powder thats pretty delicious. I’ve tried lots of superfood powders and this tastes more like juice than the others. It was invented by Drew Canole, the founder of FitLife.tv and super juicing fanatic. Even if you’ve hated green powders in the past, you will probably like the taste of this one. It has a hint of mint and coconut, which I find refreshing.