By Dr. Mercola
Vegetable juice is an enormously helpful tool
for improving your health. Dr. Andrew Saul, who's been a guest here many times
before, is a lifelong juicer.
His book, Vegetable
Juicing for Everyone: How to Get Your Family Healthier and Happier, Faster!, is a fantastic resource, offering lots of practical tips for integrating
juicing into your life, and having fun doing it.
"My father juiced and my children were raised on juice.
By the way, that's what the book is about. The whole sordid story of what it's
like to raise your kids with juicing when the neighbors think you're crazy and
your relatives are sure," Dr. Saul says.
"In the 39 years that I've been working with folks and
teaching in the natural health arena, the one thing that's helped more people
more consistently is vegetable juicing."
Dr. Max Gerson was one of the pioneers of
juicing. He suffered terrible migraine headaches, which he eventually resolved by
drinking vegetable juice.
Once word spread, patients started coming in
to be relieved of their migraines and ended up improving their health in other
ways as well. Eventually, Dr. Gerson realized that vegetable juice is a
metabolic therapy, capable of combating virtually any disease.
"The advantage of the juicer is, first of all, it reduces
[large amounts of] vegetables into a few manageable glasses. That means you get
a nice, easy-to-take, and quick food concentrate," Dr. Saul says.
"It has zero cholesterol, practically zero fat, lots of
fiber, lots of minerals, and lots of vitamins...
The juicer also does a good job of making the nutrients
available. [W]hen you juice, you break down the cell walls and you release
these nutrients and liquid solution. When you drink that, you absorb it."
Juicing really is for everyone. Even people with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and other kinds of gastrointestinal problems can usually handle vegetable juice, whereas they may not be able to eat a lot of raw food.
The Importance of High-Quality Produce
Using organic produce is very important when
juicing. The price of organic produce can be a challenge for some. One alternative
is to grow your own, making sure not to use synthetic pesticides and optimizing
your soil by adding mulch or wood
chips, which will promote beneficial soil microbes.
"Just say no to GMOs. Make sure that you grow as much as
you can. If you really want to make an impact on this world, the answer is
self-reliant production of your own food," Dr. Saul notes.
If the juice doesn't taste good, you're not
going to want to drink it. Children are even more finicky than adults. But organic vegetables
have a lot of flavor, and when picked straight from your own garden and juiced
within minutes, the flavor is going to be at its peak. This is also true for
the nutrient content.
Interestingly, one of the things I found in
my own juicing experience is that some of the healthiest vegetables to juice
are also some of the most bitter. This includes collards and mustard
When using those, you'll want to add them in smaller
quantities and balance the bitterness with other ingredients. My favorite is
lime, but you can also use cranberries or occasionally an apple.
"People say to me, 'What should I juice?' My answer is
anything you can eat raw. Play around with it. Have some fun. Just try
"I have a Facebook site called The Megavitamin Man.
People go on there, and they talk about the different things that they're juicing.
I find it extremely entertaining because they're so creative...
Cabbage juice is fantastic for the gastrointestinal
tract, and beet juice is a good blood builder. [B]eet juice... is remarkably
sweet. Now, it looks awful but it tastes great."
Juice Fasting for General Health
Even if you don't juice every day, Dr. Saul
recommends getting into the habit of doing a juice fast about once a month,
where you drink nothing but vegetable juices for three to seven days. It's a
great detox. Others have found new life by juicing every single day.
Experts typically recommend drinking eight to
10 glasses of water each day. I believe the key is to drink enough fluids so
that your urine is light yellow. If it's dark, you're not drinking enough. But when
it comes to water, purity is really important. This is yet another benefit of vegetable
It actually qualifies as water, and it is
some of the absolute best water you can get. The reason is because it's structured
water—essentially high-quality living water. It's actually different from regular water. It's not H₂O;
it's H3O2. And vegetables make magnificent structured water; far
better than drinking filtered tap water.
Different Types of Juicers
There are three basic types of juicers:
- Centrifugal type
juicers that separate the juice from the fiber through a spinning process.
These are the least expensive and the most common
or masticating types of juicers that chew up the vegetables and push them
through a strainer. They work very well and tend to give you more juice than a
centrifugal juicer. Dr. Saul estimates you could get 20-25 percent more juice
from a masticating juicer, which makes it a sensible choice even if you're
paying a little bit more for it. Over time, it'll save you money as you can get
by with fewer vegetables. They're also quieter than other models, and tend to
be easy to clean and assemble
- Grind-and-press juicers that work like an apple cider mill. These are quite expensive and therefore generally not as popular
There are also blenders, which are different from juicers. A powerful blender will give you juice along with all the fibrous material from the vegetables. This can work well for the elderly, or people who have trouble chewing for whatever reason. But it also has drawbacks. The "juice" doesn't taste as good and remember if it doesn't taste good you won't drink it. The other downside of blending is that it limits the amount of vegetables you can eat. And while fiber is certainly good, the nutrients in the juice are more important.
"There's much to be said for that because nothing is
lost, nothing is thrown away. And there is every value in having the complete
food and just pulverizing it. The problem with that is not everybody likes it
that way. It's kind of a thick, baby food-like consistency," Dr. Saul says.
Time Saving Tips, and a Warning About Storage
Provided you're using organic veggies, a great
way to save time when juicing is to clean them with a brush rather than peeling
them. One exception is beets, which have a rather foul tasting skin. If you're
using non-organic vegetables, your best bet is to peel them, to avoid juicing
pesticide residues. This is particularly important for fruits and vegetables
that have been waxed, as this seals in pesticides.
Be aware that it can be difficult to discern
if a vegetable has been waxed or not, because it can be applied in a very thin
non-glossy layer. According to Dr. Saul, eggplant, turnips, cucumbers, and
tomatoes are almost always waxed. Zucchini and squash are usually waxed but not
always. Carrots are never waxed. Ideally, you'll want to drink the juice right
away. The longer it sits, the more nutrients are destroyed through the contact
with air, which oxidizes them. You also lose taste.
"Can you do all your juicing in the morning, take it with
you to work, and drink juice all day? The answer is you can. But you will lose
quality and you will lose taste. That's the number one reason I think people
should have all their juice at once. But if you don't want to do that, you can
certainly juice in advance. Generally speaking, the masticating juicer will
introduce less air into the juice than the centrifugal. People have told me
that they get longer storage when they use a masticating or chewing juicer and
not the centrifugal type.
The next trick is to fill the container all the way to
the top. Don't leave any airspace. My little trick is to add vitamin C as
ascorbic acid at the top because it's an antioxidant. You cap it up, and you're
good to go for a number of hours. You can take this with you."
A helpful device that can prolong the life of
your juice is called the FoodSaver. It vacuums out air from plastic bags that
you then seal. But it also has an attachment that will suck out the air from
the top of a Ball jar, essentially creating a vacuum seal to further limits the
problem of oxidation, which is what destroys nutrients. You still need to keep
the juice refrigerated, and you'll want to drink it all that day. As noted by
"Whenever you have an oxygen low or oxygen-free
atmosphere like that, there is a risk of botulism. We don't want that. The way
to avoid that is to simply drink the juice that day. Don't think you can put it
in your fridge all sealed up and leave it for two weeks. That's not going to
Storage of fresh juice also allows methanol
to dissociate and increase over time, which is another reason to drink it as
soon as possible. The human body is not adapted to detoxify methanol, which is
why it can cause so many problems. For example, it can convert into
formaldehyde that can then wind its way into your brain.
toxicity, which is primarily associated with the artificial sweetener
aspartame, has been linked to Alzheimer's and other health problems. Methanol
is not a problem in fresh produce because the methanol is bound to pectin,
which allows it to safely pass through your system, but the processing and
storing of it could allow it to build up. So make sure you discard any
left-over juice the next day.
As stated by Dr. Saul, in order to get and
stay healthy, we need to get back to basics. It's not very complicated when it
really comes down to it, but if you listen to the pharmaceutical industry and the
medical profession, they all seem to make their living complicating things.
"We have been taught that the simple is not scientific.
It's not effective. It's really not a viable alternative," Dr. Saul says, "Yes, it is! The simple solution is
usually the best one. When we're looking at our health, it's just amazing how
many people ask me, 'What vitamin should I take?' They are eating a lousy diet,
are overweight, don't exercise, and they eat a lot of junk. Now, it's good if
they take the vitamins, but you still have to eat right. That means it's got to
come out of the dirt. It's got to be good dirt, good seed, and you need a good
quantity of it.
We need to get back to the land. It sounds kind of
hippie-like, but the fact is, truth is truth. It's always been a good idea to
follow nature. We're way off that. We need to turn around, look at the animal
kingdom, and take the knowledge that we see in healthy animals. What can we do
to improve our life? It's very simple... 'No junk.'"
If you're looking for an entertaining book to get you juicing, whether you're ready to try it out for the first time, or want to pick the habit back up, I highly recommend Dr. Saul's book, Vegetable Juicing for Everyone, which he co-wrote with his daughter Helen Saul Case.