I am certainly well known for my green smoothie slurping and juice detoxing. Though both are growing in popularity, there is still a lot of confusion and apprehension amongst many who have yet to jump into the green pond.
I’d like to take away the mystery and explain why both juices and smoothies play a big part in my diet and could in yours too. Any way of adding extra vegetables, especially greens, into your diet is going to be beneficial. The difference you will notice in your health is very much dependent from where you are starting and how many fruit and vegetables are in your daily food already but there is always room for improvement for everybody.
Organic and locally sourced produce is always my preference. I would emphasise its importance more than ever when juicing and smoothie making. You are using fruit and vegetables in such condensed large quantities, so if you choose non-organic then you are consuming an awful lot of herbicides, pesticides and other nasty chemicals, really not a great step to improved health.
You may be thinking you already eat lots of fresh, fruit and vegetables and have a very unprocessed, organic diet. I am sorry to say that modern farming and food processing methods have left the most nutritious food depleted. You could be eating the best diet with the best choice of foods available, and it is still virtually impossible to get all the nutrients we need by just eating 3 healthy meals a day.
Why is it so important to have green vegetables in my diet?
If there is one thing that juices and smoothies have in common its going green. Both are an amazing way to add greens to your diet. Dark green leafy vegetables like watercress, rocket, kale, parsley and coriander are super packed with minerals and juiced or put in a smoothie they keep all of their goodness in tact as they remain raw.
Some major benefits of going green:
Great health and immune support - wave bye bye to coughs, colds and flu - greens keep your body functioning in tip top form with all of the minerals, vitamins and enzymes found so richly in raw vegetables.
Clear thinking - your brain will be fed with a high level of nutrients which in turn will give you great concentration, focus and mental clarity. You will have more balanced moods and mental energy to get the best out of each day.
Vitality and energy - no more energy slumps with low blood sugar level problems or cravings for quick energy in the form of sweet, carbohydrate rich foods. The liver LOVES greens and plays a key role in detoxing the whole body and in regulating your blood sugar levels so look after it.
Great hair and skin - despite what countless product advertisers try to tell you, beauty really does come from the inside out. It is impossible to have beautiful hair and skin with a poorly functioning digestive system and a congested colon. The added nutrients from your greens and fibre from your smoothies will ensure a healthy digestive system and a high level of nutrients to feed the body’s vital functions. A struggling liver uses the skin and hair as a detox route, a beautifully functioning liver will be reflected in shiny healthy hair and glowing skin.
What is the difference between a juice and smoothie?
A juice is made in a specialised ‘juicer’ where the water and nutritional contents of the fruit and vegetables are extracted, but the pulp/fibre is left behind. An efficient juicer will provide you with a glass of smooth green liquid without pulp or bits in it.
There are 2 different breeds of juicers, masticating or centrifugal. Centrifugal juicers use a powerful motor to spin a blade at high speed to chop up the food and so are very quick whereas a masticating juicer uses a strong motor that runs at a low speed to drive the auger which crushes the food to extract the juice.
Juicers can range in price from around £50 up to £500. How much you choose to spend on a juicer is really dependent on how much you think you are going to use it. Other things to consider are how much preparation and cleaning up there will be in using the juicer and how fast it processes the fruit and vegetables. You also want to consider how some juicers extract more nutrients and are less likely to oxidise to the food being processed. Some juicers on the market are also multi functional and can be used for other food processes including making nut butters, noodles and pasta and baby food purees.
Juicing is also particularly helpful for those that find too much fibre irritating to the digestive system, particularly if there is a problem with bowel inflammation already there. More fibre in the diet is not always better, though very low levels in the diet are linked to bowel cancer.
A smoothie doesn’t need any fancy equipment, unlike a juice, it doesn’t extract from the fruit and vegetables like juicing. In making a smoothie you are keeping the entire contents of the fruits and vegetables, (apart from the bits you wouldn’t normally eat like the core or seeds). All you need is a blender, even a basic hand held one will do it if you chop your food up small enough and you pick those that are softer and won’t challenge a smaller sized motor.
Juicing can be viewed as an addition to your normally daily meals. It is a great way to inject extra enzymes, vitamins and minerals into the body without it having to digest all the fibre. When you look at the amount of chopped fruit and vegetables that go into making a glass of juice then you will get the idea of the amount of fibre versus the amount of nutrients. Fibre is still important in the diet, but it is the extra nutrients we are after here. The amount of nutrients extracted is also dependent on the efficiency of the juicer.
A smoothie is far more filling and can be used as a meal replacement or used as an adjunct to a small meal. I find having a smoothie for breakfast surprisingly filling and is a great way to get greens into my diet at breakfast. You are not consuming as many nutrients that would get in a juice, but plant fibre is great for a healthy digestive system. You are still ‘eating’ whatever fruit and vegetables you are putting in your blender and there is no waste. Many find adding smoothies to their diet an easier process, especially as it doesn’t require specialised equipment.
Other benefits worth noting about juicing
Juicing has been a very large part of many cancer recovery programs, particularly wheatgrass, as introduced to the world by Ann Wigmore who had cancer herself. Please note, basic juicers cannot cope with juicing wheatgrass, so check your instructions.
Juicing is a great way to give the digestive system a rest. Modern Westernised diets are quite a challenge to how our body’s were meant to deal with food, both in quantity and substance. There are more processes, chemicals and additives than ever before, which our body has a hard time recognising as food and maintaing good function.
Be wary of adding to many root vegetables or fruit when juicing as without the fibre the body will be getting a sugar hit, all be it natural, from fruit juice.
To balance the flavour I add either half an apple or a carrot. A quarter or half a lemon or lime also add a lovely refreshing depth of flavour.
Always add at least 10% dark leafy greens in the mix, watercress, kale, spinach, rocket are all great choices but always vary your choice, like all healthy diets variety is key. For example, sticking to just spinach every day will result in high oxalic intake which actually reduces mineral absoprtion and sticking to just kale every day can affect thryroid function. The dark green leafy vegetables also have a strong detoxing effect on the liver so be sure your body is able to cope.
Other benefits worth noting about smoothies
The only thing that limits what raw food you can put into a smoothie is your imagination. Unlike juicing, there is plenty of opportunity to put some added protein in in the way of nuts and seeds. I love to add antioxidant rich berries, which I would never choose to juice.
You may find when starting on smoothies you need lots of fruit with your vegetables for your palate. As your taste buds adjust you want to aim for having the majority as vegetables and only a small amount of fruit.
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