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 greens.
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 everything," Dr. Saul suggests.
"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 juice.
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
- Auger 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 Dr. Saul:
"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 work."
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.
Methanol 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.