Juicing fresh fruit and vegetables is one of the elements in La Crisalida’s holistic approach to health and wellbeing. In this article we will explore some of the reasons why you might want to consider juicing for health.
A major plus for juicing is that it can help people to eat more fruit and vegetables, particularly if they do not enjoy eating them. Taking all that goodness from fresh fruit and vegetables via juicing, and putting it into a glass, makes it more palatable for many people.
Juicing can form part of a healthy balanced diet. There are also times when one might choose to only drink freshly made juices for a period (this is sometimes called a “juice-fast”). We will explore both approaches in this article. We are not considering shop-bought juices, or any that undergo the pasteurisation process. The top part of this article looks at nutrition, so whizz past that to get to the health benefits if you need to! There are alot lots of links to articles we have written on our blog, as well as external links to published papers (these will open in a new tab).
What happens to fruit and vegetables when they are juiced?
This might sound like an obvious question. Fruit and vegetables look solid, but are quite high in water content. Essentially, juicing is a process which extracts the juice from fruit and vegetables and leaves behind pulp, all the solid bits.
We need to use a machine to do this and there are two main types: centrifugal and masticating (cold-press). A centrifugal juicer breaks down the fruit and vegetables into tiny pieces using a fast-spinning blade. The juice is forced through a mesh into the jug and the pulp goes into the pulp collector. This is quite a fast process. A masticating or cold-press juicer crushes the fruit and vegetables and then presses the juices out through a mess, the pulp is collected in the pulp container. This is a slow process. (If you are interested in reading more about the different types of juicers available, read our article: how to choose the best juicer for you).
Nutrition: Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Fruit and vegetables are nutritionally high-quality items, so most health bodies around the world recommend consuming them regularly. Juicing extracts most of the vitamins and minerals from the fruit and vegetables and pops it into a glass, ready for you to drink.
Each fruit and vegetable that you include in your juice can bring different nutrients to your body. Below we include some popular items to include in a juice and the leading nutritional points:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale etc): beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, quercetin
- Berries: beta-carotene, Vitamin C, folate, potassium, omega-3, quercetin
- Carrots: beta-carotene, Vitamin C, sodium
- Apples: Vitamin C, folate, potassium, quercetin
- Cabbage: Vitamin C, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phytosterols
- Celery: Vitamins K, A and C, folate, potassium, calcium, sodium
As you can see, dark green leafy vegetables are fantastic nutritionally. Adding a broccoli stem into your juice is a quick and painless way to give your body a boost!
Fruit and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants, due primarily to the presence of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in our body. Antioxidants protect or delay our cells from damage from free radicals. You can read more about antioxidants and how they help our cells breathe in our blog article here. This article also explains more about the process of oxidisation and free-radicals.
You might also hear the phrase bioactive properties. These are all natural compounds found in food items like fruit and vegetables, which are known to have a beneficial effect on our health. This includes Vitamin C, phytosterols, carotenoids, polyphenols and tocopherols (for example Vitamin E).
Science is now clear that nutrients found in freshly made fruit juices are bioavailable – this means that the nutrients are available to be absorbed by the body. (reference: Fruit juices: are they helpful or harmful? An evidence review. Opens in a new tab).
One thing to note, most of the insoluble fibre is removed during the juice extraction process (it ends up in the pulp collector), although some soluble fibre might remain. See later for more information.
Consuming a variety of ingredients is the key. Whilst not all individual fruit or vegetable item contain all the nutrients you need, a combination of them is more likely to do so.
Health benefits of juicing
Many of the health benefits of juicing are delivered due to the high nutrition content, discussed above . There has been an increase in interest from the scientific community about the health benefits of juicing, so the number of studies and results published has been increasing over the years.
- Support good heart health
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Improve and maintain good digestive health
- Antidepressant effects – helps to maintain
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Decrease body weight and help support a healthy weight
- Support the immune system
- Cleanse and detox the body
Phytosterols are known to help to reduce LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy cholesterol) so are good to support heart health. They are also said to contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (Read our article: foods to lower your cholesterol and support heart health).
Quercetin is plant pigment, an antioxidant flavanol, which is said to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer effects, and may also have antidepressant effects. It is found in most fruit and vegetables, and highest in broccoli, berries and apples (as well as onion).
The consumption of fruit and vegetables contributes to healthy gut microbiota (and microbiome), and also increases variety in the microbiota. Science has shown that a wide range of microbes can contribute to improved health. For more details see our article: enhancing the gut microbiome through diet and lifestyle.
Below are just a few of the studies we have reviewed, which investigates the role of juicing (freshly made juices from fruit and vegetables) and various aspects of health.
Decrease in body weight, improved wellbeing and improved microbiome
Results from a study of 20 volunteers, published in 2017, showed that a three-day juice cleanse, followed by 14 days eating, had a measurable health impact and led to improvements in a number of different items studied. They identified a decrease in body weight, which was maintained after the study period ended, as well as a decrease in unhealthy gut bacteria with increase in the beneficial bacteria. Wellbeing scores at the end of the study were also increased. The authors hypothesised that the weight loss, which persisted by day 17 (despite eating for 14 days), might be due to the changes in the microbiota. (Reference. Health benefit of vegetable/fruit juice-based diet: Role of microbiome. External link).
Reduced blood pressure
Drinking beetroot juice was found the lower blood pressure in a typical home setting. (Reference: Effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure… External link).
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and neurocognitive benefits
Both were identified in a review published in 2020, which explored the benefits of juicing with respect to polyphenol content. (Reference: Potential health benefits of (poly)phenols derived from fruit and 100% fruit juice. External link).
Delayed onset of Alzheimer’s
Consuming fruit and vegetable juices, a few times per week, may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. (Reference: Fruit and Vegetable Juices and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Kame Project. External link, opens in a new tab).
Cleanse and detox
The body has a natural function to cleanse – it is always working for homeostasis. By having a period of time drinking fresh juice made from fruits and vegetables, what actually happens at the same time is we tend to drink more water, hydrating the body. Here at the retreat, we exclude caffeine and encourage our guests to take a break from alcohol, smoking and other toxins. Through the activity programme – walks, yoga, exercise – we breathe more fully and move our body. All of this combines – putting more good stuff into the body, and less bad stuff. This means our body has less work to do dealing with unhealthy inputs, so it can spend time healing.
New research is being published every week and it is exciting to see the scientific community catching up!
How long should I juice for?
Answer: as long as you want! Note, however, that there is no real fibre and low levels of protein if you are on a juice fast.
We like to think about juicing in three main phases:
- Juice snack: Replace occasional meals with a juice (for example, have a juice for breakfast every day), or add an extra juice into your day, to supplement your food. This can help to increase your intake of raw food enzymes. You can do this for the rest of your life!
- Juice cleanse: This is where you drink only juices made from fresh fruit and vegetables. Three days is a good length of time for a juice cleanse and this is our suggestion for retreat guests.
- Juice fast: Use juice as the only source of nutrition. Juice fasting can last one week or longer. A juice fast can help to jump start weight loss or as long-term therapy for some people. Some authors suggest that juice fasting can reverse chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, Crohns disease, eczema and more. (Check out ¨Super Juice Me¨ or ¨Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” movies that chronicle the tales of several people juice fasting). However, this option might not be suitable for everyone.
Practical aspects of juicing
There are a number of practical aspects of juicing to consider:
- Fresh juice should be drunk soon after making. It is better to not leave the juice and drink hours later, for a couple of reasons.
- Oxidation – when you cut and apple, or avocado, you will notice that the part that has been cut soon starts to turn brown. This process is called oxidation, it is a natural process. Juicing breaks down the fruit, so oxidation starts immediately. The impact of this is to change the taste and colour, but also to reduce the nutritional content.
- There are concerns that if bacteria are present on the fruit and vegetables (perhaps because they have not been fully washed), leaving a juice to stand for a long time, particularly at room temperature, could allow bacterial growth to occur. This might cause tummy problems.
- If you do make a juice for drinking a little later, storing in the fridge is absolutely the best thing to do. This will help to slow down the process of degradation. You can also freeze a juice, defrost at room temperature and drink immediately.
- Not all fruit and vegetables can be juiced. We recommend not juicing onion and garlic as this will leave a strong taste on your equipment. Avocado and banana does not produce much juice – we recommend that you use a blender, to combine these with a juice. Small leaves are sometimes not well juiced, particularly for centrifugal juicers.
Nutrition: centrifugal versus cold press juicers
As mentioned above, there are two main types of juice machine available to make a fresh juice: centrifugal and masticating / cold press.
Some alternative health websites claim there is a nutritional difference between juices made in a cold press juicer versus centrifugal – with those made in a centrifugal juicer said to be less nutritious. There are quite a few scientific studies investigating this for various fruits and they seem to contradict each other.
A study published in 2019 compared the nutritional qualities of juices made using a centrifugal juicer versus a cold-press juicer. It reported no nutritional difference and no difference with respect to bioactive properties between the two different juicers. (Ref: Effect of cold-pressed and normal centrifugal juicing on quality attributes of fresh juices: do cold-pressed juices harbour a superior nutritional quality and antioxidant capacity? External link).
Cold-press juicers take much longer to produce a similar quantity of juice as a centrifugal juicer, so La Crisalida decided to use a high-quality commercial centrifugal juicer, which produces juice with a lower blade rotation speed, so that we can have a short time between production of the juice and our guests drinking them.
Downsides to juicing?
As with anything, there are upsides and also downsides to juicing. Some of the more common downsides to juicing are:
- Faster release of sugars into the bloodstream
Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars. Juicing breaks the whole food items into tiny pieces – this in turn means it can release the sugars more quickly, so they are more quickly released into our body through the bloodstream. For some people this can lead to a spike in their blood sugar levels, which can be followed by a sharp dip. For example, for me personally, I can tolerate eating an apple, but I develop a headache soon after drinking a juice containing an apple, so I choose not to drink a juice that contains apples (or other fruit). This is why we offer our guests the option to remove all or some of the fruit contained in the juices.
- Excess vitamins are not stored in the body.
So, you cannot drink a juice thinking this will tide me over for a year. If your body already has sufficient levels of vitamin C or B-vitamins for example, as these are water soluble vitamins, your body will simply release them (via pee). Our body will only absorb what it needs.
- Fibre content is reduced
Fibre is an important requirement for digestive health. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Juicing removes most of the insoluble fibre which is contained in fruit and vegetables (this is pushed into the pulp collection container), leaving only a small amount of insoluble fibre. Therefore, we can either add fibre back into the juice, for example by adding a spoonful of psyllium husk powder, or add it back in by eating a piece of fruit, separate to the juice. In the short term, this reduction in fibre might affect the production of waste (smaller poo). This is one reason why we tend to focus more on juice cleanse or juice snack here at the retreat.
- Costs can be higher than eating
Making a fresh juice can take a large amount of fruit and vegetables, particularly if you are using a lower-quality juicer. To make juice, more fruit and/or vegetables are needed compared to cooking a meal, this means it will cost more overall.
- Practical aspects
When you make a juice it should be drunk pretty much immediately, for the best nutritional results. This means you are less able to make in advance or in bulk. Clearing up – washing the equipment – can be a pain too.
Juicing articles on our health and wellbeing blog
We have published many juice recipes and articles about juicing on our health and wellbeing blog. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Top three juice recipes for a healthy immune system: juices deliver high quality nutrition, try our three favourites to boost your immune system
- Top five juice recipes for heart health: find out our favourite recipes for juices that support the health of your heart and cardiovascular system
- Menopause support juice: this juice is great if you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or going through the menopause
- Cabbage digest juice: cabbage is good for the digestive system, so if you are not a fan of eating it, try it in a juice!
Juice retreats at La Crisalida
We offer all our guests the option to juice during their stay, as we believe juicing can really boost the nutrition delivered to the body, during a retreat stay. This in turn can help to improve health and wellbeing, from the inside out. Read all about juicing on our website here.
All the elements of the La Crisalida programme for health and wellbeing ome together in person at our retreats: nutrition and hydration, exercise, rest, physiology and breath, mindset, environment, connection and education.
Juices are made fresh. We also offer the option to have a low fruit or no-fruit option, as some guests wish to remove the fruit sugars from their juice.
Staying for a week can really make a difference to your health and wellbeing. Contact us for more information.
It’s about a healthy balanced lifestyle
Drinking lots of green juice every day, then having massive binges on fatty unhealthy produced meals, whilst downing copious amounts of alcohol and never exercising will not really work! We recommend that juicing form parts of a healthy balanced lifestyle, incorporating exercise, rest, good nutrition, living your life with a purpose. This has the best effect on our health and wellbeing.
We also believe that our nutrition is completely individual, it is personal to you. What suits one person might not suit another, so for that reason, there might be some trial and error in working out what juices and pattern of juicing work best for you and your lifestyle.
We hope this article has inspired you to include juicing in your regular diet. Do let us know how you get on.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).