Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Juice Post

A green juice that tasted exactly like V8.  Delicious!

We've been drinking a lot of juice recently - so much juice, in fact, that it seems to have caught our friends' attentions.   I've been fielding a lot of questions about our new juicing habit, so I thought (and was encouraged by Danya!) I'd blog about it for you guys. 

Last fall, I watched a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.   I like watching food/diet related documentaries on Netflix while I'm working out.  Call it motivation, call it a guilty pleasure, call it whatever you want.  It's just what I do.  

In this movie, a man (we'll call him Joe...because that's his name...) is at a point where he's dealing with a debilitating disease and lots of medication.  He's overweight, not at all healthy, and totally depressed.  Joe consults with his doctors and nutritionists, and decides to do a 60-day juice fast.  There's a lot of information in the movie, and I do recommend watching it to everyone.  I haven't checked all of the science behind a total juice-fast, and obviously would not recommend it to ANYONE without their doctor's approval, but the movie itself provides a lot of food for thought.  I even blogged about it once before. 

Anywho, I'd been curious about juicing for awhile, and Mike finally got around to watching the movie with me one night.   (Yes, I've watched it about 5 times now...).   As you all know, we've been working really hard to try and "get healthy," and things have been slowly but steadily marching onward toward that goal.   Even with that, though, we were finding that it was really hard to get all of our "recommended" fruit and veggie servings throughout the day.   

We started talking about whether or not juicing would work well for us, as an addition to our current diets.   If we juiced some of our veggies/fruits, would we be able to get that recommended amount?  We both firmly believed that nutrition was the key to good health, and that even the best vitamins out there could be outdone by a solid diet.   It seemed to make logical sense that getting our required nutrients in the form that nature intended (through nutrition) was healthier than through a pharmaceutical.

We talked a lot about it, and then one day, during a shopping trip to Costco, I realized that my boys gobbled up the juices that they watched being made during every single one of our shopping trips.   Even after they watched the employee put spinach and other "yucky" things through the display juicer, they loved the juice that came out!  It seemed that maybe juice would be the key to increasing our fruit/veggie intake across the whole family.

We started researching.   I'll admit, it's hard to find solid research out there on the health benefits of juicing.   There's not a lot of *available* scientific data about health benefits of juice.   I found a lot of information about how your body digests juice (more quickly and readily than through the food itself - the juicer does part of the work for your body, so absorption is much quicker).  I found a lot of anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies.  I even found information about the physical effects of juicing (things like mental health and energy).  I saw references to things like possible relationships between blood pressure and Alzheimer's and juicing.....but I found very little in the way of information and research from prestigious American institutions like Mayo Clinic or the National Institutes of Health.   It seemed like the only organizations I could find that even talked about juicing were in other countries (a lot of juicing traffic in the UK, it seems, which also seems to make sense in light of the fact that our buddy Joe began his whole journey in Australia). 

Anywho, our research led us to believing that juicing could - and would - be a healthy addition to our current diets.  Not a replacement for, mind you, but a healthy addition.   We both had some "problem areas" that we struggled with, and we thought that maybe juicing would be a solution to those areas.

Let's take, for example, my problem with breakfast.   I'm not a morning person.  I never really have been.   I don't like being talked to in the morning, I don't like a lot of activity right when I get up, and I definitely don't like to eat.   It usually takes me a good hour to begin to even feel like I want to eat, and by then I'm starving.   My solution before juicing?  I would drink coffee until my stomach started to feel queasy and then reach for the nearest sugar-loaded carb that was easy and quick to eat.  Not exactly healthy.   I really needed a solution to breakfast that didn't rely on a lot of cooking having to be done, and that wouldn't set me up for carb overload for the rest of the day.  (My post-breakfast sugar crash was not pretty, haha).  

Mike had similar struggles that he was dealing with.  We thought we'd give juicing a try, just to see if it might be a solution for us.  We headed down to Bed, Bath, and Beyond with coupons and birthday money, and purchased ourselves a beautiful black-and-chrome Omega Juicer. 

That night, we experimented with different recipes that we found online, in recipe books, and that were recommended by friends.   It was fun, and the best part may have been watching the boys get so excited to "eat" their veggies.  

It's now a month later, and we're both still regularly juicing.   Juice for breakfast (with a protein powder mixed in) has become an amazing solution.  I drink it while I'm preparing breakfast for the boys, and before I even have my coffee, and it has worked perfectly.    We use all fresh produce (mostly organic), and all it takes is about 20 minutes the night before to actually prep the juice (if you do make it the night before, make sure it is in an air-tight container), and voila!  I have a yummy, healthy, easy-to-drink meal that does not lead to me gobbling down every carb in sight about an hour later.    It really has helped my mornings.

We typically juice for breakfast and then lunch involves a vegetable juice.  Some days, depending on the day (and the day's activities), lunch becomes just that juice - - or the juice is in addition to my regular meal of a salad of some sort.   I had already switched my lunches to be salads, and pretty much eat that every day, but now, I was doubling my veggie intake without much work.    It filled me up longer, gave me more energy, and prevented me from adding unnecessary sides to my salad.    I didn't need to add a ton of cheese or croutons or anything like that - the juice plus a simple salad filled me up more than adding all those "extras" to my salad ever did.

What I did not expect to find was the change in my overall sense of well-being that seems to have followed our adopting a juicing habit.    I even hesitated to blog about this anecdotal evidence for the benefits of juicing because I was worried that I was still just riding the "honeymoon high" of the diet change.   It wasn't until I realized it's been a month that we've had our juicer that I started to accept that this wasn't due to the "newness" of our diet, but maybe was due to an overall side effect to eating more fruits and vegetables.

Since juicing regularly (at least for breakfast, and typically for lunch, too), both Mike and I have noticed:

- less instances of depression

- an increase in energy

- better sleep habits and what seems to be more restful sleep

- an overall sense of health.  Meaning, we FEEL healthier throughout the day - less instances of feeling sick or feeling depressed or feeling sluggish

- we enjoy our food more.  Both of us noticed - independently of each other - that our sense of taste had drastically heightened.  Food (including the juices themselves) seem to have a stronger taste.  We're using less seasonings.  We're enjoying the flavours of the food -including juices - more.  

- decreased reliance on coffee.  Both of us have noticed that we've drastically decreased our coffee intake and even our desire for coffee.  To give you an idea, I was typically drinking three cups of coffee every morning.   I'm currently drinking one, and I often forget to drink it once I've poured it - I just don't even really want it anymore.

- we've both lost some weight.   Mine hasn't been that drastic (only a few pounds) but Mike's has been pretty significant (about 10 pounds).  Our diets have changed to primarily fruits and veggies with the addition of the juices (we eat meat maybe once or twice a week, and I'd say at least 80% of each day's total food intake is in the form of veggies/fruits, and most of that percentage is in the form of vegetables). 

- at my recent doctor's visit, my blood pressure was the lowest it has been in years (about two weeks into our juicing habit).    All of my lab work came back in ideal ranges.

Obviously this is all anecdotal, but a quick glance at the internet can find hundreds of anecdotes just like ours.   Is it scientific proof?  Not at all....but it might be enough to convince you that you should research this for yourself. 

At this point, I think juicing will forever be a regular part of our diets.  We enjoy it, we are seeing definite health benefits, and it's fun.  The kids are enjoying drinking their juices (they purely drink juice as an addition to their diets - they do not replace meals with juices), and I'm enjoying the amount of green leafy veggies I can get into them without dousing it in salad dressings.  

I'm not a food scientist, or even a nutritionist, but I've become firmly convinced that juicing can be, and probably should be, a part of every person's regular diet.   I'm not fully convinced on the idea of a total juice fast, like Joe did in the movie, but I'm still researching that one.   I'll let you know when/if I find any more information about that.  

As I said before, I'm not a medical professional.   If you decide to do a juice fast in any way, make sure to talk to your doctor first.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of the juicing fun in our house.   Feel free to leave me questions or comments below, and I'll do my best to point you to an answer.   There are lots of recipes out there, and plenty of books written about juicing - I will do what I can to point you to the right one for your answer! 

For now - cheers!

An amazing way to start the day:  apple, apricot and cinnamon

Creating our favourite:  kale, celery, apple and lemon

Getting in on the fun - they LOVE to help!


  1. Where's the count juicy video!! BOOOOO!!! ;)

  2. Haha, I was trying to trim it to JUST the count juicy part and I got frustrated and gave was 1 am....I'm weak and needed to sleep... haha ;-)