Management Tools

Fresh Juices for Optimum Health

Health experts advise us to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits to ensure good health. The recommended minimum daily intake of vegetables and fruits is five servings of vegetables and two of fruits. Sadly, statistics show that less than one third of the Americans eat this minimum amount. The Australian data is not much better than their American counterparts. In fact, many nations that have adopted the American lifestyle show similarly poor intake of vegetables and fruits.

To make matter worse, our vegetables and fruits have 30% less vitamins, trace minerals and nutrients compared to 25 years ago. This significant reduction in “food value” is due to widespread environmental degradation, the abuse of chemicals in our foods and the artificial process to ripen foods to increase profit. Furthermore, many people no longer eat fresh foods. Their daily intake of vegetables may be in the form of fried chips, pickled cucumber and onion rings that they obtain from fast food stores, and their daily intake of fruits are in the form processed apple pies or the kiwi fruits that sit on the pavlova.

Why are vegetables and fruits so important?

The answer is simple: Vegetables and fruits are packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are essential for both physical and psychological health. Even tough these substances are called micronutrients, their significance far outweigh their name sake. These micronutrients help to maintain the health of the cells in our bodies and the integrity of our blood vessels. Briefly, they help to prevent:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mental disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Premature aging
  • Degenerative diseases

Why are fresh vegetable and fruit juices good?

  1. Since most people are living such a fast paced life, many do not have the time to eat large quantity of vegetables and fruits. It is simpler to drink fresh vegetable and fruit juices.
  2. A small amount of fresh juice is packed with a huge amount of micronutrients. For example, eight ounces of fresh carrot juice has the same amount of carotenoids as one and a half pound of carrots.
  3. Without the fiber, fresh juices are quickly digested, absorbed and assimilated into the body.
  4. Fresh juices contain enzymes which are essential for proper absorption and metabolism of foods. These enzymes are found in abundance in fresh vegetables and fruits. They are easily broken down and destroyed by cooking and processing.
  5. Fresh juices contain phytonutrients which function as antioxidants. Some benefits of phytonutrients include:
    • Protection against cancers
    • Improvement in immune function
    • Lowering of cholesterol
    • Protection against viruses
    • Helping the liver in detoxification
    • Protecting the DNA from damage

 

Not all vegetables and fruits are the same

To obtain the best benefit from the fresh juices, it is important that you are familiar with the major categories of phytonutrients. These include:

  1. Carotenoids
  2. Cruciferous vegetables
  3. Flavonoids
  4. Chlorophyll
  5. Allium
  6. Ellagic acid

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are fat soluble pigments that are found in red, orange, yellow and dark green vegetables and fruits. To date, about 600 types of carotenoids have been identified. Most of us know about beta-carotene which is found in carrots. But there are other carotenoids that are just as important as beta-carotene. These include alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. Even though we are still researching on the roles of carotenoids in our bodies, we are certain of the following facts:

  • Carotenoids are important in maintaining the health of the cells in the bodies. As such, they prevent organ degeneration and fight against cancers.
  • Some of these carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A in our livers.
  • We cannot overdose on carotenoids. Whatever we do not need are just stored in our fatty tissues.

According to the latest research by a group of scientists at the University of Hawaii, carotenoids prevent cancers by enabling the cells to “talk” to each other. Carotenoids increase the activity of a molecule called connexin 43. This molecule forms small channels between cells and connects the cells in the body. As a result, the cells can exchange signals to promote normal cellular growth and prevent cancer and diseases of the heart, brain, liver and eyes.

A typical Western diet contains about 1.5 to 3 milligram of beta-carotene and 3.5 to 7.0 milligram of total carotenoids. Many people just do not eat sufficient carotenoids in their diet. It is important to note that not all vegetables and fruits contain carotenoids. The list below summarizes the different carotenoids and their sources:

Alpha and beta-carotene

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkins
  • Apricots
  • Sweet potato
  • Rock melon
  • Leafy green vegetables

Lycopene

  • Tomato
  • Tomato products
  • Watermelon
  • Guava
  • Grapefruit

Lutein

  • Pumpkins
  • Red peppers
  • Leafy green vegetables

Zeaxanthin

  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Pawpaw
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Mandarins

Cryptoxanthin

  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Mandarins
  • Pawpaw
  • Nectarines

Cruciferous vegetables

These vegetables have flowers which contain two components that resemble the shape of the cross. Cruciferous vegetables have very strong anticancer properties, much more than other types of vegetables. They contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients such as indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphanes and isothiocyanates.

Indole-3-carbinol is a very potent cancer antagonist. Sulforaphanes stimulate the production of liver detoxification enzyme and isothiocyanates induce the production of liver detoxification enzymes as well as protect the DNA from damage. Studies have shown that high intake of cruciferous vegetables correlate with a lower rate of cancers, especially breast and colon cancers.

Regular juicing of cruciferous vegetables not only helps the liver to detoxify toxins such as drugs, environmental chemicals and pollutants, but also fights against cancers. Some examples of cruciferous vegetables are:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Brussels sprouts

 

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a class of micronutrients that are derived from plants such as citrus fruits, onions, grapes and apples. There are five major groups of flavonoids:

  • Polyphenols
  • Proanthacyanidins
  • Quercetins
  • Isoflavones
  • Citrus bioflavonoids

Polyphenols are found in tea, red wines and extra-virgin olive oil. They are strong antioxidants. The polyphenols found in tea are catechins. Green tea is a better source of catechins than black tea. Catechins constitute about 30% of the dry weight of green tea and only 9% of black tea. Catechins are important in cardiovascular health because they work on the blood vessel walls and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. As a result, they can stabilize cholesterol plaques by terminating the inflammatory action of the white blood cells on the plaques.

 

Proanthacyanidins are powerful antioxidants found in grape seed and pine bark extracts. They have twenty times more free radical scavenger power than vitamin C and fifty times more than vitamin E. They work in water soluble compartments of the body and move throughout the bloodstream. They also protect the brain, collagen and nervous tissues from oxidation.

 

Quercetins are found in tea, onions, garlic, apples and red wines. Quercetins are not only free radical scavengers, they also antagonize the release of histamine. Thus, they are effective against all forms of allergies such as allergic rhinitis, eczema and hives. So, make yourself plenty of fresh apple juice if you are suffering from allergies. Besides, they also help to speed up the production of liver detoxifying enzymes that eliminate carcinogenic toxins from the body.

Isoflavones are derived from soy products. They contain phyto-estrogens. Thus, they are particularly good for perimenopausal or postmenopausal ladies.

Citrus bioflavonoids are another class of antioxidants that help to maintain good health. Citrus fruits not only contain the well-known vitamin C that we cannot do without, they also contain a host of different phytonutrients that are essential for our well-being.

Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll comes from the green pigments in plants. They are essential for photosynthesis which maintains the life of the plants. Through photosynthesis, the plants convert the energy from the sunlight into other form of energy that can be utilized to promote and maintain growth. Chlorophyll also contains a high concentration of magnesium which helps to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract. Plants which contain plenty of chlorophyll are dark green in color, for example spinach, collard green and broccoli. Chlorophyll contains the phyto-chemical chlorophyllins which protect the DNA from radiation damage and reduce carcinogens in cooked meats and fried foods. They also reduce the carcinogens from cigarette smoke.

 

Allium

Allium is another class of phyto-chemical which has potent antioxidant property. Garlic contains the highest concentration of allium. In fact, garlic contains over a hundred different compounds. Consequently, garlic has many health benefits. It protects against cancer, helps the liver in the detoxification process, and has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic actions. It helps in detoxifying heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, from the body.

Ellagic acid

Ellagic acid protects the chromosomes from damage by toxins, fights against cancer-causing agents and increases glutathione in the body. Glutathione is an antioxidant which is found in abundance in the liver. It helps to maintain the health of the liver which is exposed to a range of toxins, pollutants and free radicals. Glutathione ensures that the liver is not damaged by the waste products and toxins that it attempts to detoxify. Foods which have a plentiful supply of ellagic acid include raspberries, strawberries, black currants and grapes.

 

How to select the right type of fruits and vegetables?

Your choice of fruits and vegetables depends on the type of micronutrients that you want to obtain from your juices. For example, if you intend to get more vitamin C, then you will want to juice from a good selection of citrus fruits, and if you want to get plentiful supply of beta-carotene, then you would want to include an abundant supply of carrots. The followings provide a good general guide to help you:

  1. Try and experiment with a variety of recipes so that you get the optimum benefits from different fruits and vegetables
  2. All fruits and vegetables can be juiced
  3. Attempt to include the cruciferous vegetables as often as you can (preferably daily) because of their potent anti-cancer properties
  4. If you include fresh garlic, you may want to mix it with some vegetables such as carrots which help to mask the smell and taste of fresh garlic juice (I usually use a combination of celeries and carrots which not only mask the smell and taste but also stop the regurgitation after ingestion of the garlic juice)
  5. Chlorophyll tends to give the juice a bitter taste, so you may want to mix dark green vegetables which are full of chlorophyll with some thing sweet like carrots or citrus fruits
  6. As far as possible, drink your juice in the morning before you eat anything else to enhance absorption
  7. Use organic fruits and vegetables if you can
  8. If you are not using organic fruits and vegetables, make sure that you wash the vegetables and fruits clean to get rid of all pesticides and chemicals
  9. I recommend peeling the skins of the non-organic fruits and vegetables (for example apples and carrots) to get rid of the chemicals and wax which are used to preserve the shelf life of the products

Some interesting recipes to start with

Breakfast juices

Drink 1

  • Half a lemon or lime
  • A handful of berries (blue, black or strawberries)
  • Three oranges

Drink 2

  • Four carrots
  • Two apples
  • A handful of coriander or parsley

Drink 3

  • One grapefruit
  • Half a lemon or lime
  • An apple
  • One orange

Drink 4

  • Four carrots
  • One apple
  • One beet

Lunch and evening juices

Juice 1

  • Two celery stalks (include the leaves if you want the chlorophyll)
  • Four carrots
  • One clove of garlic
  • A handful of coriander or parsley

Juice 2

  • A quarter of cabbage
  • A handful of collard greens
  • Two carrots
  • One apple

Juice 3

  • One or two tomatoes
  • One cucumber
  • Two celery stalks
  • One clove of garlic

Juice 4

  • Two tomatoes
  • A quarter of broccoli
  • One cucumber
  • A few cubes of fresh pumpkin
  • Two carrots

Making soups out of vegetable juices

Any of the fresh vegetable juices can be made into soups if you do not want to drink them cold. You simply warm them up on the stove. Please remember not to boil them,  otherwise you will destroy the enzymes in the juices.

The followings are good recipes for tasty soups:

Soup 1

  • One cucumber
  • Two celery stalks
  • One clove of garlic
  • A handful of spinach

Soup 2

  • Four carrots
  • A quarter broccoli
  • One cucumber
  • A handful of parsley
  • Two tomatoes 

Soup 3

  • Half a cauliflower
  • Two celery stalks
  • Two carrots
  • One clove of garlic
  • A handful of coriander

Conclusion

Fresh vegetables and fruits are a vital part of good health management. They provide important nutrients which help to maintain our physical and psychological health. Experiment with the vegetables and fruits and get the optimum health benefits out of them.

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