I guess you could consider me an expert in juicing, which is something I never thought I’d say. I grew up having Tropicana and Cranberry Cocktail. I actually used to mix the two together. It was sort of my thing. Totally, not my thing these days. Now I drink a whole different kind of juice. Yes, fresh, mainly veggie, cold-pressed juice!

After working as a resident nutritionist for a local cold-pressed juice company for almost three years, I have some first hand knowledge on all things juice. I’m loaded with answers to the most common questions I get asked regarding juicing and juice cleanses. For a long time, I had no idea what cold-pressed meant. I wondered: “Why juice when I can just blend me up a pina colada flavoured smoothie?” I now, most definitely, see the value in juice and that is why I’m sharing this knowledge with you.

Sit back, grab a green juice and get ready to get schooled on juice…..

Why juice?

Having fresh juice will give your body a major boost of nutrients and phytonutrients that are more difficult to assimilate and absorb by eating them. You can use the nutrients immediately; therefore, people who juice often experience a lot more energy and have strong immune systems. Juicing is also a great way to get in more liquid, which helps greatly with removal of toxins.

Individuals with digestive difficulties can benefit greatly from juicing because it requires a lot less energy for your body to breakdown and absorb. A cup of green juice is roughly equivalent to the nutrients of ingesting about 4 salads. Crazy right!? For some people that I’ve seen, they have no interest in chomping down on greens and just want their burger and fries. That’s cool, if that is what they want. This is an excellent option for them to just get some greens in periodically.

This may sound like I’ve drunk the cool-aid, or should I say carrot, ginger and beet juice, but I now crave juice when I haven’t had it for a few days. It just goes to show that my body is getting a lot more nutrients on the days I have juice and then it wonders where they went when I don’t have one for a while (usually cravings indicate some sort of a lacking). I feel more vibrant when juicing regularly and frequently get compliments on my skin, which I attribute to the high amounts of antioxidants I am ingesting.

How long does it keep fresh?

The quick answer is that it depends what kind of juicer you make use of and how you store it. When exposed to the air, oxidation begins to happen and therefore the juice you just made begins to loose its nutrient quality. When juicing at home, it is best to consume it right away, or leave in an airtight container in the fridge and consume sometime that same day. When using a juicer made for home use there is an always a element of heat or friction introduced. This heat or friction leads to the destruction of some valuables nutrients and enzymes.

It’s possible that you are buying your juice. This option does save you a lot of work and clean up. My recommendation is to go with juice companies that use organic ingredients. You can then be more confident that you’re not downing a bottle of juice and pesticides. Make sure there is an expiry date on it that is no more than ~4 days from when it was made– this is super important when it comes to buying juice! It is even better if they cold-press their juices (will explain in a minute) and serve it up in glass bottles. Yes, it’s more expensive but this isn’t just a hipster trend. There is a reason for this….

What does cold-pressed mean and why is it so expensive?

A cold pressed juicer is a big hydraulic press that extracts the nectar from fruits & veggies. It is called cold-pressed because no heat or oxygen is introduced in its production. This method maintains all the nutrients, phytochemicals and enzymes to the highest quality.

Yes, buying cold-pressed organic juice is expensive. For me, it is worth investing in my health, which is why my health food budget is one of the biggest chunks I take out of my money pie. And when you really think about it, you probably spend more on drinks and pizza sometimes.

I mentioned above that no one wants to down a bottle of pesticides, right? To make a 2 cup bottle of organic green juice (which is usually how it is sold) 2-4 pounds of organic produce is needed. Have you tried making juice at home? You will need that, or more! And it will likely cost you just the same amount as buying it in the bottle. Not to mention, formulating a juice that actually tastes good isn’t too easy, so that is another plus of buying.

Can it be harmful to me?

Not necessarily. However, this question may come up and I often explain that choosing juices with lower sugar content (lower fruit) are better options to avoid blood sugar spikes. I also advise to drink the ones with more fruit slower and in lesser content (not all at once). Because juice is immediately absorbed, it does have the potential to spike the blood sugar.

Is it a meal replacement?

Juice should act as a supplement to your diet. You’re enhancing your diet by saturating your system with easily digestible nutrients that can be readily be used by the body. Juice lacks fat, fiber and protein. These are vital nutrients that balance blood sugar and give you the feeling of satiation; therefore, it should not be replaced for a meal. When cleansing using juice, it is still suggested you have a nut milk to provide you with fat and protein to help keep you going.

What is the best juice to have when I’m sick?

I recommend going with something that has a whole lot of vitamin C and antioxidants. Adding in anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties is a good idea as well, which is why I like my juice spicy with some ginger. Turmeric is another go-to of mine since it is highly anti-inflammatory and is especially good if it is a head cold or allergy related. A good mixture is grapefruit, orange, lemon, ginger and turmeric (you can add pineapple if you want it sweeter).

How does juice differ from a smoothie?

Juice is void of all fiber, where as when you blend, you still have all the fiber in there giving it that thicker consistency. Fiber is awesome for a healthy digestive system and for that sensation of fullness. As previously mentioned, juice can be more easily absorbed and therefore used quicker. You also get a lot more nutrients in when juicing as compared to a smoothie since you get full much quicker from a smoothie and can only consume so much.

 

Unless juiced right in front of you, many juices found in the grocery store, and most other products for that matter, have been HPP’d. High Pressure Processing is a method of pasteurization used to preserve products. The product is submerged in its container under water under a certain amount of pressure to kill bacteria.

Bad bacteria are killed, and so are the good guy bacteria. And we all know by now that good bacteria in your gut are essential for healthy digestion and immunity. When HPP’d, the plastic that the container is made of leaches the chemicals it is made of right into the product. I know, gross, right? A glass bottle ensures that no plastic chemicals are leached into the product and, generally, indicates that the product is not preserved in this manner.

 

Why should I juice cleanse? How long should I do it for?

You may choose to juice cleanse for a variety of reasons. One main reason I juice cleanse twice a year is because of the break it gives my digestive system. I really like to eat! LOL. My intestinal tract and digestive juices are often working hard and using a lot of my energy to digest. I like rewarding my system for its hard work with a break. I find it super helpful in increasing my energy, getting my bowel movements on tract and reducing any bloating.

Detoxifying the system is another reason people juice cleanse. Many people think it is not necessary to ‘detoxify’ by cleansing because our bodies do this for us. And that is true, they do, however, a lot of crap exists in our diets and environments that didn’t in the pasts (ie. pesticides, preservatives, chemicals in our products, environmental pollutants). It’s a lot for the body to handle, so why not help the body out here and there? What’s the harm with a very mild cleanse? An extra dose of nutrients to the system? A test of your will power? A mild cleanse could be to simply add juice to your diet and eat clean for even 1-2 days. All I say to the haters is, don’t knock it until you try it because the way you feel, both physically and mentally, after a few days of clean eating and juicing is a CLEAR indicator of the positive effects it is having internally on your health. Another reason some of my clients cleanse is as a reboot. They need to get back on tract and they find it helpful to do this for themselves mindfully with that goal in mind.

The length you should do it for varies based on what your goals are, your previous cleansing experience and your current diet and lifestyle habits. In order for it to be effective and for you to be successful, you should tailor the cleanse to you! Speaking with a nutritionist, like me, prior to cleansing is a good idea. Juice cleansing (and any cleanse for that matter) can be harmful if you jump right in and shock the system. I often tell my clients that a gradual introduction with small steps is key and that starting off with a short cleanse at first will do more good and will build your confidence and willingness for the next time around.

I know that I benefit greatly from more of a raw diet high in phytonutrients, so for me this give me positive results, however, that is not the case for everyone. A sign that you need to do more work on your diet before cleansing is when you cleanse and feel awful during AND after. It is normal to experience withdrawal symptoms when cleansing for possibly the first 1-2 days when your body eliminates a lot of toxins, but after cleansing your should feel much better. If you still feel crappy, your body isn’t ready and some dietary changes should be made prior.