Juicing is the process of extracting the juice from fruits and vegetables. By separating the fiber from the liquid portion of the fruit we get a concentrated drink replete with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and a long list of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are the various nutritional elements that can be found in plants, these include lycopene in tomatoes and chlorophyll in leafy greens. People often ask if it’s better to just eat fruits and veggies. My response is that you should do both! A glass of carrot juice can be made by juicing approximately five carrots; but to eat five carrots takes a lot of time and effort. With no fiber to slow the nutrients from getting into our blood stream, freshly squeezed juices provide a quick boost of nutrition. Fiber is important for health, but it provides no nutrients. It literally goes right through you. Of course we need fiber to keep the digestive system moving, which is why juicing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables go hand in hand.

Sometimes people choose to drink only juices for a time, while avoiding solid food. This is often referred to as a juice fast. Some use juice fasts for cleansing or as a detox. Drinking juices detoxifies the body because we stop consuming foods that are "toxic." Processed and fried foods are avoided as well as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. On a juice fast, animal products are eliminated (which can have hormones and other unwanted substances) so the "diet" is very clean, especially if using organic produce. Not surprising, on a juice fast people lose weight. As fat is lost, toxins are lost as well. Fat holds on to heavy metals like lead, and chemicals such as dioxins and some pesticides. Unfortunately these aren’t uncommon in our environment, hence they’re often found in our fat stores as well.

Some people think juicing is an easy way to lose a few pounds, but a juice fast is not a weight loss solution. People often feel more energy; their brain fog and headaches go away, sometimes they sleep better and symptoms like bloating or gassiness usually resolve. I think that the main benefit of the juice fast comes after the fact. It often helps someone feel healthier which then transfers into other areas of their life, for example someone may be inspired to start exercising or eliminate junk food from their diet.

Before starting a juice fast it’s important so slowly lead up to it by eating soups, and raw fruits and vegetables for a few days, and then finally a day of just raw fruit and veg. This is also the case when re-introducing solid food. Resist the urge to have a greasy cheeseburger as your first meal.

If you want to try a juice fast it’s best to consult with someone who has experience guiding others through the process, especially if you have specific health concerns. If you want to get the benefits of juicing, but aren’t interested in a juice fast, just incorporate it into your daily life. Add a fresh juice to your morning routine, as a mid-afternoon pick-me up or as a healthy night cap. Cheers!

This post originally appeared on our sister site beijingkids.

Photo: eatlivelife.com

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