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The Juice Connoisseur
Juices have become increasingly popular and a regular healthy booster in our daily lives as they provide amazing nourishment and the highest ready-absorbable energy with their obvious rejuvenating and revitalizing effect. Juice bars are thus mushrooming in shopping malls and high streets, regularly offering freshly-made juices on the spot as well as a wide range of bottled ones. But along with this high demand and mainstream consumption, juicing are also surrounded by fallacy, confusion and misunderstanding: some recommend dubious combinations of fruits and vegetables whilst others condemn fruit juices completely; juices are often sold as ‘organic’ and ‘cold-pressed’ but a closer look shows there is neither usage of cold-pressed technology nor certified organic produce. More disagreement in selling fresh juices in plastic bottles, using pasteurization and high-pressure processing (HPP) in order to extend their shelf-life, and the usual dilemma between smoothies being healthier than juices! No wonder juicing has become so controversial and its benefits markedly questionable. Hence the need to share some essential tips and rules of thumb which will help you to safely navigate within the diverse options, misleading labels and the wide range of concocted juices available in the thriving market and wisely opt for the best juice ever.
Don’t be fooled by impressive machines which appear to effectively slush fruits and veggies in a jiffy. As long as they employ blades (centrifugal/rotation methods) most of the active nutrients and living enzymes are inevitably destroyed by the heat they produce. Optimal extraction is only obtained when produce is finely ground at a very low temperature, preferably with a twin gear technology which uses pressure, so that the vital nutrients and enzymes nested deep in the fibre are successfully squeezed out.
The level of nutrition and superior taste of organically grown produce has been extensively documented by many studies and has shown to not only be an optimal toxin-free nourishment but also a sustainable farming practice with tremendous economic and environmental benefits. However, the label “organic”, indiscriminately used by many for cosmetic marketing, does not mean that the produce is 100% free from chemicals. The truth is that it is usually a mix of natural and some organic ingredients in varying percentages. More importantly, even when pesticides are not employed, the soil needs to be equally organic, which takes at least four years in order to be totally pesticide free. Only the strictest rules of the Australian Certified Organic Standard can guarantee produce free from non-GMO and synthetic ingredients, no use of synthetical agricultural chemicals, thus upholding and protecting the principles of trading fairly as well as environmental sustainability. Therefore, the labels organic and certified organic have very different meanings.Glass Bottles
Glass is made from an abundant natural resource, sand, and it can be easily reused because it does not lose its structural integrity. It is totally safe whereas plastic is not sustainable and usually contains chemicals (BPA, BPS, PET, pthalates) which leach into the liquid it contains. Glass is clearly more expensive but it is a necessary choice for preserving fresh liquid enzymes and active nutrients without any risk of compromising the pure energy of your juice with harmful chemicals. Its non-porous quality also slows the oxidation process thus keeping your juice as fresh as possible and ensuring premium quality. Another recent trend is BPA-free plastic bottles which are not necessarily safe: in fact they still contain ‘other’ chemicals which have been proven to be equally harmful.
Unpasteurized cold-pressed juice cannot retain its natural and living nutrients after 3 days from its production. When you see a juice that is sitting on the shelf beyond this period it is not raw and fresh anymore and it has instead been treated through HPP (high pressure processing) in order to extend its preservation up to 45 days. This technique employs hyperbaric pressure (‘cold pasteurization’) transmitted by water and as it destroys 99.9% of bad bacteria, it also kills good bacteria. The juice industry obviously claims that the quality is not altered, yet the truth is that it actually has a tangible impact on the benefits of living enzymes, anti-oxidants and active nutrients as their cell structures change when observed microscopically (1).
Fruit and Vegetable Combination
The ratio of fruit and vegetables should be combined according to specific health conditions: for instance "people suffering from arthritis would benefit more from vegetable juices without any citrus fruit whereas in some other conditions fruit juices can be given to effectively speed the process of purifying, cleansing, rejuvenating and regenerating body, mind and spirit" (2).
As Dr. Morse aptly points out “once called omnivores by many, humans are actually frugivores. Man’s diet should be predominantly fruits and vegetables, instead of dead animals, their milks, and dormant foods - grains & beans” (3). The right combination of fruit and vegetable should be achieved by avoiding too much of a specific fruit (such as apples for instance which abound in mainstream juices) or vegetable (i.e. cucumbers which easily fill the bottle) and enjoying instead a complex array of colours every day with a predominance of greens (rich in highly cleansing and purifying chlorophyll). The rule of thumb is to keep fruit to a reasonable amount – as vegetables can be sweet too – so that it complements the nutrients and flavours of vegetables, sprouts and fresh herbs.
Juicing and Blending
Juicing extracts bio-active nutrients from fibres to obtain a highly-dense concoction whereas blending retains fruit and vegetable fibres to improve digestive health. Although they are both very beneficial in adding more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis they actually serve different purposes: juicing is mainly designed for rapid cleanse-healing and to swiftly speed up the detoxification process. It is particularly indicated to effectively replenish the body when lacking essential vitamins, minerals and active enzymes and it's the most efficient way to give your digestive system a well-deserved rest by flooding the body with readily-absorbable phyto-nutrients.
Blending is clearly less laborious and therefore more easy to enjoy on a daily basis when the body is not detoxing and can enjoy a regular intake of nutrients-dense foods. Smoothies are great in creating a steady flow of energy and a gradual absorption of nutrients, thus stabilising blood sugar levels and feeding beneficial bacteria in your gut.
The above tips are meant to guide you in understanding what makes a juice truly healthy, nourishing and revitalizing. Therefore, keep in mind that you need the right technology for optimal extraction otherwise you won’t be able to effectively extract vital nutrients from any fibre; certified organic produce and glass bottles will stop you ingesting traces of pesticides and chemicals; go for freshly cold-pressed juices which are not preserved for weeks so you can benefit from the precious enzymes and nutrients of mother nature; and avoid mainstream juices commonly high in fructose and low in vegetables (especially leafy greens) thus solidly boosting vitality, rejuvenation and nourishment. Juice up and thrive!
(1) Balasubramaniam, V. M., Martínez-Monteagudo, Sergio I. & Rockendra Gupta. 2015. Principles and Application of High Pressure-Based Technologies in the Food Industry. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 6, 1, 435-462, doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-022814-015539.
(2) Paavo Airola. 1978. How to Keep Slim, Healthy & Young with Juice Fasting. Sherwood (OR): Health Plus Publishers.
(3) Robert Morse. 2012. The Detox Miracle Sourcebook. Prescott (AZ): One World Press.