Juice a great way to get more fruits and veggies

There is no way to sugar coat it… we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.   Canada’s food guide suggests that we consume seven to 10 servings daily for optimum health and research shows that we are falling short of the quota. Not surprisingly, the issue for many people is incorporating that many servings into their busy lives.  So how can we get the recommended values without stuffing our faces with vegetables continually throughout the day?

Vegetable soups, large mixed green salads, stir fries and vegetable stews make great choices to add more greens into the diet. And carrying baggies of chopped vegetables, a piece of fruit or a home-made fruit salad also make easy portable snacks on the go. Fruit smoothies and green powder supplement drinks in the morning are also really convenient and often include chlorella and spirulina that provide added protein and iodine.

Increasingly the most popular method of adding more vegetables and fruits into the diet is juicing.  It allows us to reap the benefits of all of the vitamins, minerals and most importantly the enzymes that are available in fresh produce in just one sitting. Enzymes are found in raw and uncooked fruits and vegetables and are destroyed by heat over 48˚C.  They are needed for many bodily tasks, such as metabolism and energy production. In fact, all biochemical processes in the body need enzymes to function. Bottled juices are usually pasteurized, and this process inactivates the enzymes, diminishing most of the vitamin C and some B vitamins as well.

But the biggest advantage of juicing is the ability to consume an abundance of antioxidants and phytochemicals.   Phytonutrients are the chemicals that give plants their brilliant colours and flavour providing our bodies with protection from inflammatory conditions; lower cholesterol; and increase overall immunity. People are creatures of habit and so tend to eat the same vegetables weekly. Juicing allows you to enjoy many different coloured vegetables that you may not ordinarily like to eat whole, providing a variety of many diverse beneficial phytochemicals in just one glass.

For those with a compromised digestive system, juicing is an excellent option as the insoluble fibre is removed in the process, making the juices easily digested.   Fibre is still an important part of our diets, helping to keep our digestion moving, assisting in the removal of excess hormones and slowing the digestion of sugars.  So, if you are juicing to add more vegetables to the diet, include whole grains, seeds, nuts, fibrous fruit and vegetables, along with the juices and not instead of them.

Juicing not only increases the greens quota but also helps to alkalinize the blood and assists the liver in the detoxification process.   Many foods are acidic to the body such as meats, most grains, alcohol and sugars – all of the fun stuff!  Vegetable juices assist in balancing our PH, lowering inflammation and increasing the capacity of our blood to carry oxygen by stimulating red cell production.

If you want to begin juicing, machines can range in price from about $120 dollars and up. Omega and Breville both make reasonable machines that are perfect for the beginner.  Cucumber, celery and fennel make great starting vegetables as they are milder in taste. Over time you can add in more bitter vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, etc… These dark greens are especially high in chlorophyll helping to cleanse the body by assisting in the removal of heavy metals and toxins. And the trick to cutting any bitterness is to add lots of lemons. An easy starter recipe for juicing includes: one green apple, three carrots with tops removed, three stalks of celery,  one red bell pepper, half of a cucumber, a large handful of spinach and a one inch piece of peeled gingerroot. Throw all ingredients into a juicer and enjoy! For more recipes log onto juicerecipes.com or invest in a great book, such as Juicing For Life by Cherie Calbom.

Juicing is not an alternative to eating fresh fruits and vegetables. But it allows us to conveniently increase our daily servings with a varied selection of coloured vegetables. And this assures that we get all of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that we need to stay healthy and live life to our fullest.   So move over milk moustache… green is in. Bottoms up!

Sheila Ream, CNP, is a Certified Nutritionist in the Beach. She can be reached at sheilaream@sympatico.ca

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