Emma H. 29/04/2017
Why I’ve changed my opinion on juicing
Let me say right at the beginning that this article does not cover juicing detox or juice fast (consisting of drinking solely vegetable juice, with no solid food intake). It is more general and it provides basic information on why it’s beneficial to add vegetable juices in your diet (even together with solid meals). It does not cover blending either (i.e. smoothies containing fruit and vegetable fibre).
Why I wasn’t a fan of juicing before
In the past, I was convinced that juicing will bring me no benefit. I had several reasons for that:
My goal was to ensure a diverse and calorie-dense diet based on whole foods which would promote healing endometriosis symptoms and balance my hormones.
I knew that any type of caloric restriction can have negative impact on hormonal balance and the functioning of the adrenals and the thyroid.
Fruit and vegetable juices contain little fibre (insoluble fibre is completely separated from the juice), and they contain higher amounts of sugar. Sugar with no fibre present can lead to high blood sugar and insulin spikes (fibre helps moderate this process).
It is always better to eat food in a form that is as close as possible to what Mother Nature has provided us with. That applies to consumption of whole, untransformed fruit and veggies, too.
People are not used to the taste of pure vegetable juice, and they tend to add in too much fruit. To get one glass of fresh juice, we need many more portions of fruit and veggies than for one glass of smoothie, one bowl of cooked vegetables, or one portion of raw fruits or vegetables. This means that „healthy juicing“ could easily lead to overconsumption of fruit, and too much sugar in our diet.
All these reasons led me to the conclusion that there’s no point investing into a juicer for me. It took me three years on my nutrition-based healing journey to get to the point where I decided to invest into one. Even though there are many benefits to juicing (especially) vegetables, which I list below, I still wouldn’t change anything in retrospect. There were more important steps in my healing process, like transitioning to Paleo and AIP, detecting food intolerances, healing my „leaky gut“ or focusing on nutrient and calorie-dense diet with enough protein and healthy fats.
Why I’ve changed my opinion
So, why have I decided to add juicing to my daily practice? There were actually several factors that gradually led to this decision. It all started with involuntary fasts due to gastro-intestinal issues, or due to endometriosis related pains. In my case, this meant that I would go without solid food for 24 (to 48) hours. When I went Paleo, I was able to naturally transition from the sugar-burning mode to metabolic flexibility (which means that the body uses for fuel that which is currently available, either carbohydrates, or fats). I became more efficient in burning up fat stores (a process very much helped by regular HIIT sessions).
The problem was that soon I depleted both my body’s fat stores, and its ability to cope with such stress. I crashed and started having thyroid and adrenal issues. I didn’t realise it at that point, but I got to a situation when regular (often still involuntary) fasts and “detoxes” were not good for me anymore, and my body started needing more fuel.
This all became clear after my endometriosis surgery. The second and third week after surgery, I couldn’t stop being ravenous and needed a lot of everything, fat, protein and carbs. Despite this, I soon slid back into my default mode of going long periods without food (six, sometimes even eight hours), which was absolutely not suitable for post-op care.
It took me several days to realise that my body is screaming for nutrients and energy, so that it can do all the necessary healing. I also realised that I regularly have similar needs and cravings before my period and a few days after it. This is partly related to the hormonal cycle, and partly to the fact that having endometriosis and adenomyosis, my body struggles with internal bleeding every month, and needs a lot of energy and nutrients to recover.
And then there was another problem. When I got my first period after the surgery, it was extremely painful (I mean more than the usual level of debilitating). Full bowels and bowel movements became a huge issue, and a trigger of excruciating pain. I was "used to" this from before surgery, but it got much worse now, and it lasted much longer. Before, I would simply eat less or broth-fast for a couple of days. But now, I was paralysed for ten long days. And at the same time, my body was begging for nutrients and fuel.
This is when I came to the conclusion that I will need to look for a low-fibre liquids-only solution. This should ensure the much-needed digestive rest and relieve some of the pelvic pain, but still provide my body with tons of nutrients.
What are the benefits of juicing
Fresh (fruit and) vegetable juice offers the following benefits:
It is easy to digest and provides digestive rest.
One portion contains much higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and other phyto-nutrients than a regular meal.
It contains raw enzymes.
It is highly bio-available (i.e. the body can easily absorb it) and there is no fibre to interfere with digestion.
If consumed as a meal (and if made primarily of vegetables), it is lower in calories than a regular meal (i.e. it’s suitable for weight loss).
It has lower carbohydrate content than the average standard diet (if made primarily of vegetables).
There are many different approaches to juicing. You can add in juices as a complement to your regular diet in order to increase your intake of bio-available nutrients. You can replace one meal a day (e.g. dinner) with a juice, which will ensure basic digestive rest. You can step up this process and replace two meals a day, e.g. breakfast and dinner. This will give your GI tract and liver even more opportunity to rest and focus on other tasks than mere digestion, and heal. You can also delve in fully-fledged juice fasts and detoxes (which are not covered by this article).
How to choose a juicer
I am a complete juicing newbie, so I had to do some research on what to look for in a juicer. (There are tons of articles out there.) I really liked the following advice: “Choose the kind of juicer that you'll use every day.” As simple as that! You don’t want to buy anything that will put you off in the long run. In order to reap the most benefits, you need to make juicing a long-term habit.
There are basically two different kinds of juicers: centrifugal or masticating / cold press juicers.
Centrifugal juicers are cheaper but tend to be less efficient in extracting juice, especially if you’re planning to juice hard or leafy vegetables. They also heat the juice to higher temperatures, which may destroy some of the beneficial enzymes. They tend to be noisier.
Masticating juicers literally “chew up” the fruit and veggies first, and then extract the juice. They are more efficient and have no problems with hard or leafy veggies (or even nuts). They are slower, which means that the juice is not heated so much and no enzymes are destroyed. They tend to be more silent, and they are more expensive.
I ended up getting Kenwood Jmp600Wh. I knew that I wanted a masticating juicer (I wanted to juice mainly vegetables), and then I decided on the basis of price range and availability in my area. I wanted to make sure I buy a good-quality, durable product. This juicer has no problems with extracting all the juice from hard produce and leafy greens. It can also extract nut “milk”. It doesn’t take much space and is relatively easy to clean (when you get the hang of it).
What ingredients are most suitable for juicing
Your juice “recipe” is entirely up to you. I usually follow these rules:
I use two to three types of vegetables (I always use celery or cucumber or fennel),
I try to use at least one type of leafy greens (usually spinach, bok choy or parsley),
I always use either ginger or mint,
I always add in one piece of fruit (most often it’s kiwi or apple),
I sometimes add spirulina, chlorella or sea kelp powder.
I think it comes down to what your taste buds are used to. More concretely, how much sugar they are used to. If you’ve been following Paleo, keto or a similar protocol, you will most probably have no difficulties applying the above-mentioned rules. If you’re in the process of transitioning to a low-carb lifestyle, you will most likely need to use a bit more fruit, otherwise you won’t like the taste of your juice, and you won’t stick to juicing.
Please, also keep in mind that some veggies and herbs have a strong flavour (e.g. parsley, basil, beetroot, cabbage, leek), and you will need to be careful with the amount you put in your juice. Some vegetables are difficult to digest when raw (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, kale) and caution is advised, too. All this doesn’t mean that you should not use them, only that you have to be careful and experiment a bit.
It is always better to change up the ingredients you use, at least every four days. Your body will get used to the type of nutrients it gets every day, and the benefits may get smaller. Plus, every kind contains a different nutrient profile, so diversity is recommended for juicing, too.
And one last note: If you sometimes buy fresh “green juice” in a health-food bar or a store, don’t be surprised when the ones that you make at home are much less sweet. Commercial juices are usually designed so that they are tasty (which means pretty sweet).
How to prepare your vegetables for juicing
I’m the kind of person that gets motivated very easily, but has trouble sticking to the activity once it gets known (and boring). That’s why I’ve decided to make a healing ritual out of juicing. I’m actively working on creating a positive atmosphere around juicing. It takes time to prepare the fruits and veggies, and it definitely takes time to clean the juicer. And in order to reap benefits, I should do this every single day. That’s why I need to elevate the whole process to a higher level. I really liked one comment in a juicing video I saw: Cleaning the juicer is a nuisance, but it’s just fine when you make it a mindfulness practice!
When I used my juicer for the first time, I loved the process and the result. But I was a bit overwhelmed by the clean-up requirements, especially when I realised I’d need to do that every day. Fortunately, I soon found a well-functioning system and got used to the whole process. Now, it’s all fast and painless.
I put a large bowl in the sink and fill it with warm water, with a splurge of vinegar. I wash my produce in it. It’s not necessary to peel most of the vegetables (except for beets), especially if you buy organic. Just scrub everything with a brush. After I’ve washed everything, I cut it into pieces that will fit in the juicer’s feeding tube. Almost all parts of fruits and veggies can be used, there doesn’t need to be any waste. This article at RebootWithJoe.com offers specific instructions on how to prepare various types of produce for juicing.
I don't throw the water out just yet. It can be used to help clean up the juicer. I find it's much easier than if I only used running water.
More useful tips
If you’re juicing leafy greens, use other types of vegetable (e.g. celery or cucumber) to push the leaves down the feeding tube.
Ideally, drink the juice immediately after juicing. It is recommended to dilute it with water, two parts juice, one part water.
It is best to drink juice on an empty stomach, and not eat for the next hour (or three!). This will ensure the best absorption of nutrients. You can also add a bit of healthy fat (avocado, coconut or olive oil, nut butters) to ensure even better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Try not to gulp everything down in 30 seconds. Swish the juice around your mouth and savour it. This will prompt the salivary glands to start secreting digestive enzymes, which in turn supports the whole digestive process.
If you decide to store the juice, use a glass jar, fill it up to the top and leave in as little air as possible. Add in a few drops of lemon juice. The extracted juice will oxidise, which is why we need to leave in little air, and lemon juice acts as an antioxidant. Store in the fridge.
The longer you store juice, the more nutrients will be lost, and the worse it will taste. I’ve never stored it for longer than 12 hours. For more tips on storage, read this article by BestForJuicing.com.
After all the juicing is done, there will be a lot of pulp left. Don’t throw it out! You can use it in soups, sauces, or make these vegetable mini muffins!
What happened during my first week of juicing
I drank veggie juice every morning and evening. Sometimes, the juice replaced my meal, sometimes I still had a light breakfast or dinner. (This wasn’t a juice-only fast or detox.) I experienced the following positive changes:
I felt lighter and was spared the unpleasant, heavy feeling after having my meals.
I was less hungry and had fewer sweet and salt cravings.
My stool got softer and elimination got easier.
However, I also experienced some difficulties (which I believe were partly detox, and partly issues I get when going too low-carb). I have to admit, though, that it’s hard for me to say whether these were caused by the juicing. There may have been other factors involved.
Light headaches, relieved with higher salt and water intake. They could have been caused by lack of sodium and other minerals. I’ve been craving salt a lot recently, which is probably related.
Feeling tired, though this could be related to my post-surgery recovery and the fact that I went back to work the week I started juicing.
Rash and acne. (These come and go, and I still haven’t figured them out completely.)
When I wasn’t being careful about sufficient carb intake (I need at least 80 g of carbs a day), I started having issues like insomnia, being cold all the time and having dry, itchy skin. These symptoms may point at tired adrenals and thyroid. They should be relived with higher intake of healthy fats and other nutrients, good hydration (possibly with an electrolyte drink), as well as by easing up on physical activity, and by reducing stress.
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