In a previous essay, “The Magic of Juicing,” I explained in great detail how I first got into juicing over a decade ago. Long story short, the first time I saw the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer infomercial, I was instantly captivated. Jack’s enthusiasm for all things juice, combined with the Home Shopping Network’s savvy marketing strategy (the countdown clock – only 10 left!), created an irresistible desire in my brain to “unlock the power of juicing,” as Jack would say.
Even then, though, I recognized that clever marketing and a powerful whirring motor were merely lures to get the hook in. There had to be substance behind the window dressing – i.e., a real, substantive, and practical reason to juice – in order to justify a consistent juicing regimen for a long period of time. Otherwise, there would be no reason to go to the trouble. In this essay, I will attempt to explain why I believe juicing is a valuable – not a vain – endeavor.
I performed a little experiment in preparation for this essay by posting some of my juice concoctions on Facebook and asking people to “guess the juice.” The reaction has been interesting. When I talk to people who have seen my posts, I generally get one of two questions: “why do you juice?” and “how do you drink that stuff?” The comments on Facebook to my posts are somewhat divided, with the orange and red colored juices getting mostly positive reactions (“that looks good!”; “looks delicious!”), and anything with a green hue getting mostly negative reactions (“looks like swamp water!”; “I think I’m gonna throw up!”). I realized that I have some work to do! So, here’s why I juice, and why you should, too:
1. Juicing makes you feel better.
If that’s all there is, isn’t that enough? I have been juicing long enough to know that I feel better physically when I juice than when I don’t juice. I have discovered that different juice combinations affect me in different ways. Carrot/apple is a great early-morning kick start juice that will give you sustained energy throughout the morning. Adding celery to a juice concoction late at night has a calming effect and aids sleep. Adding a handful of greens to the basic carrot/apple (parsley, spinach, kale, etc.) aids digestion and gives increased energy. The list could go on and on, but here’s the bottom line: you will feel better than you do now if you juice.
2. Fresh juices taste great!
Fruity juice concoctions are an easy sell, but in order to gain the full benefits of juicing, greens must be introduced into the mix. However, people seem to be turned off by the idea of juicing vegetables like kale, spinach, parsley, collards, broccoli and cabbage. As one Facebook commenter noted, that “sounds disgusting.” Do not be deceived, though: a correctly proportioned green juice is actually quite delicious.
The secret is to add strong complimentary flavors to make the green juice palatable, as follows:
- 50% from any one of the above greens
- 40% from apples or pears
- 10% from lemons or limes
As you become used to the addition of greens to your juices, you should steadily increase the percentage of greens and decrease the percentage of apples/pears. As you change the ratio, you can begin adding mint, which will further improve flavor. Apples and pears are my only recommended “sweeteners” for green juices. As you advance further, you will find that you very much like the flavor of juiced greens. Here is an example of classic advanced green juice that you should work toward – it’s delicious:
- 6 kale leaves
- 1 cucumber
- 2 green apples
- 4 celery stalks
- 1/2 lemon with the skin
- 1/2 inch ginger or to taste
3. There are health benefits associated with adopting a consistent juicing regimen
This is the most arguable reason, admittedly, but there is quite a bit of scientific and anecdotal evidence out there lending credence to the health benefits of juicing. Juicing is not a “magic cure” for anything, or at least nothing that I have read has convinced me that juicing “cures.” There is no dispute, however, that fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and natural sugars – all important nutrients. According to Dr. Oz (a proponent of juicing), “juices contain an abundance of alkaline elements, which may help to normalize the acid-base balance in the blood and tissues.” Here are a few other considerations:
- Apple skin contains bromelain and quercetin, natural antihistamines that help reduce congestion. 
- Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables is an efficient way to get the vital nutrients you need, such as magnesium, vitamin C and antioxidants. 
- According to Dr. Benjamin L. Cohen, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY, juicing is an efficient way to meet the recommended 9 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. 
- Adopting a green juicing habit may reduce your risk for stroke. 
- The resulting liquid from juicing contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit/vegetable, allowing you to ingest a greater amount and higher concentration of important nutrients than if you attempted to eat the fruits/vegetables themselves (imagine trying to eat 8 carrots and 3 apples in one setting!) 
- From the Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute: “The best selection of juices comes in nature’s own containers: fresh fruits & vegetables. Fresh juice is loaded with cancer-fighting phytochemicals and vitamins, in a state easily absorbed by the body.” 
If you decide to adopt a juicing regimen, here are some words of advice and caution:
- You cannot live on juice alone. Juices should be combined with a regular, healthy diet of real, solid food. Think of juicing as supplementing normal food consumption.
- Juicing as I recommend has nothing to do with the fad “juice cleanse” diets that seem to be trendy nowadays. These extreme diets give real juicing a bad name. I believe any extreme alteration to your diet to accomplish a short-term goal is unhealthy, and, quite frankly, pretty stupid.
- Drink fresh juices immediately; they will spoil very quickly.
Admittedly, there are reputable juicing skeptics in the medical community (you can find them with a quick Google search), but I believe the skepticism is primarily a knee-jerk reaction to “fringe” juicing proponents who claim that juicing absolutely cures everything, from skin disease to immune disorders to cancer to high blood pressure. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that confirms these extreme claims. I would rather focus on the three above reasons to promote and justify juicing: the day-to-day benefits (e.g. increased energy, digestive aid, sleep aid, etc.), the “culinary” benefits (i.e. that properly balanced, fresh juices just plain taste good), and the less-debatable health benefits as above stated. For these reasons, I juice, and I believe you should, too!
(Follow me on Twitter for my thoughts on other topics in 140 words or less: @GHW7.)