When spring emerges, I go on a cleaning spree. I'll bust out the rarely used vacuum attachments, drop off old clothes at my local consignment shop, and focus on giving my body a little extra TLC by drinking fresh fruit juice. This is my time to declutter my house and, more importantly, give my body a similar reset experience. Focusing on high concentrations of fresh nutrients gives me more energy and helps me kick my lingering winter cravings for carb-packed treats.
A few years ago, I planned to go all-in with a week-long, at-home juice cleanse. Although the juice was delicious, it wasn't a good option for me. Bottom line: a long-term juice cleanse didn't mesh well with one of my health conditions and left me feeling dizzy and lethargic. I learned that preparing fresh juice once a day as a snack or light lunch is what works for my body.
Here's everything to know about juicing and the pros and cons of trying a juice cleanse. Remember: before embarking on any major dietary shifts, speak with your doctor to find out what's best for you.
Is Juicing Healthy?
Sipping colorful juice can be a great way to sneak in vegetables that you otherwise wouldn't eat. Nutrition.gov reports that most Americans over age four simply aren't getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet, which may mean they lack adequate amounts of dietary fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K. If veggies aren't a constant in your daily diet, you might try juicing them to get those vitamins and minerals. You can easily fit several carrots, a bag of spinach, some celery stalks, a cucumber, and an apple in a single glass of juice.
However, before you juice all the produce in your home, know that juicing removes some of the satiating, digestion-boosting fiber found in whole produce, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fiber is an important part of your daily diet, but if you're trying to give your digestive system a little break—maybe after a surgery or when you're not feeling well—juicing can be a great option.
To make sure you maintain a balanced diet, consider posting printable nutrition guides from the Food and Drug Administration on your refrigerator to learn more about the nutritional properties of the foods you eat.
Should You Try a Juice Cleanse?
So we know juicing can help us get more fruits and veggies in our diets, but what about embarking on a week-long, juice-only diet? Some claim juice cleanses flush out the body and assist in weight loss—but, unfortunately, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains that there's no substantial evidence showing that juicing will remove toxins from the body or improve health.
In fact, a juice-only diet may only lead to weight loss simply because it's very low in calories. If you're looking to shed extra weight, try using a food tracking app to help you learn how many calories you're drinking and eating and what a healthy range looks like for your current age, weight, and activity level.
If you're planning to consume only juice for a period of time, also be mindful of how your body responds. The NCCIH notes that juice might not contain all the nutrients you need in your normal diet, so a cleanse might not be the ideal way to nourish your body. For those with kidney problems, a juice-only cleanse might be a poor choice due to the high levels of oxalate, which is a naturally occurring compound that can contribute to kidney stones. Additionally, people with diabetes or other blood sugar issues should always follow the diet recommended by their healthcare provider and consult them before trying any cleanses.
Making Healthy Juice at Home
If you're ready to plug in the juicer, hooray! Making a decision to consume more fruits and vegetables—as part of a cleanse or not—is a positive self-care step.
My favorite homemade juice is a combination of these ingredients:
- 1 large apple, washed and quartered
- 1 lemon, peeled and quartered
- 3 large carrots, washed and peeled
After I've washed and chopped my juice ingredients, I'll use either a cold-press juicer or a high-speed blender. Technically, drinks made in a blender are smoothies since they have a thicker texture and retain the fiber, skin, and seeds from your produce. These also tend to be more filling—and for me, they tend to keep my blood sugar from fluctuating unpredictably, and they help keep my digestive system running normally.
When it comes to making thicker drinks, I've found that my favorites contain uncommon leafy greens, such as mint and parsley, and a little fruit for sweetness. I especially love Dr. Oz's Green Drink. I first tried it while recovering from surgery years ago and have been making it ever since. You can also explore immune-boosting juices that the kids will enjoy, with add-ins such as dairy-free milk and cocoa powder.
Short on time? Don't have a juicer or blender? Most grocery stores sell premade or bottled juices and smoothies. Just be sure the products have been pasteurized to eliminate bacteria, per the NCCIH, and avoid those containing any concentrates or filler ingredients. I also pay close attention to the serving size, so I don't sip too much sugar in one sitting.
Are you embarking on a juice cleanse or experimenting with juice recipes? Let us know what you're sipping this week on Twitter! Cheers!
Image Sources: Pixabay | Angela Tague | Angela Tague | Angela Tague
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Why It's Good
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is always a good thing. Whether you do it through juicing, making smoothies, or adding an extra vegetable to your dinner plate, we approve! You're setting a positive example for those around you (especially picky kids) by showing them that fresh produce is delicious!