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Juicing: Beneficial or Harmful?

By Mary F. Shackelton, ND, MPH

The medical and surgical weight-loss community and the natural health community seem to be divided on this topic. The former argues that juicing reduces the fiber content and therefore decreases the feeling of fullness gained by eating fresh, crisp fruits and vegetables (Ashley Barrient, clinician in Loyola’s bariatric department, Alternative Medicine, August 2013). Do a quick internet search, and you’ll find that the American Cancer Society and other reputable organizations, who are touted as the experts on health and wellness, repeatedly argue that juicing sacrifices fiber and can also be dangerous because of potential microbes in raw fruits and vegetables (The Disadvantages of Juicing, Livestrong, September 2011; Juicing, American Cancer Society, November 2008).

Kale Juice

If you don’t have time to juice, grab a to-go kale juice at Whole Foods!

While consuming whole fruits and vegetables is always the highest nutritional recommendation, juicing is not without its benefits. Mainly, raw juices are second to honey in ease and speed of assimilation into the bloodstream. This allows vital nutrients to pass directly into the cells and help restore the immune system. Fruit and veggie juices also contain highly alkalizing minerals with no fiber to slow digestion. Therefore, your body can divert energy away from digestion and focus on cleansing or detoxing.

It’s not recommended to juice ALL the time, as a balanced diet should contain plenty of lean protein, fiber, and good fats. However, if you’re feeling a cold coming on or just sense your body could use a good ol’ detoxification, then “juice feasting” is a great choice. I did it recently when I got whomped by a massive cold, and I swear I overcame it more quickly than some of my counterparts, who caught the same bug. Between juicing, sweating in the infrared sauna, getting a Vitamin C IV, and laying low for a bit, I was better in just a few days.

And by the way, don’t spend a bunch of money on a fancy new juicer. My husband found one on craigslist.org that was only 50 bucks, and it works perfectly fine.

My favorite juice is:

1 bunch of parsley, 1/2 apple, 2 cucumbers, 6 stalks celery, 4 stalks kale, 1/2 lemon and 1 inch of ginger.*  Watch out, this will knock your socks off, and it is not too sweeeeet!!

Here are some other combos that my new favorite blog My New Roots suggests.

*Try to buy organic and local as much as the budget will allow. For the fruits and veggies you should absolutely buy organic, check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists.