With juice cleanses growing in popularity and cold pressed juice stores popping up on the most reputable street corners in Sydney, it begs the question should we be drinking more juice?
Juices and smoothies can be a valuable way to boost our nutrient intake in a less than perfect diet. Stress, poor lifestyle choices, processed foods, strenuous exercise, extreme dieting, medications, poor gut function and alcohol to name just a few can all lead to sub optimum nutritional intake. This can lead to fatigue, poor brain function, food cravings and a general feeling of malaise – sound familiar anyone? Smoothies and juices contain important nutrients such as antioxidants, folate, calcium, prebiotics, protein, and minerals making them a healthy addition to any diet. Many people even go so far as to go on smoothie or juice fast diets in the quest for internal cleansing and rebounding energy.
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To fast or not to fast
Juice fasts can be beneficial to some however not so beneficial to others, let me explain. If someone has malabsorption issues, poor gut function, leads a toxic lifestyle or is in need of an antioxidant boost, a short liquid cleanse for approximately 3 days can be beneficial. The liquid form of juices and smoothies means that they are easy to digest, taking strain off the liver and digestive system so particularly good for those in need of a system cleanse or someone in need of liver support. Smoothies tend to be more filling than juices due to their fibre content and they often have additional protein from added milk or protein powders thereby providing a more satiating, well rounded nutritional profile. Juices are fabulous for delivering concentrated nutrients however the more fruit, the more sugar so a juice only diet can put you way over your recommended daily sugar intake, not such a good thing especially for those people with blood sugar imbalances, cardiac and liver disease. Green Juices from raw, cold, pressed vegetables such as spinach, kale, celery, spinach, mint and ginger provide a host of nutritional benefits without the blood sugar spikes or excessive calories but it can take a little while for your taste buds to become accustomed.
– Provides high quality antioxidants to protect the body from disease
– Easy to digest
– Make a perfect on the go breakfast or snack
– Provide important nutrients such as calcium, minerals, folate and vitamins that the body and brain needs to stay fit and healthy
– Minimally processed and rich in nutrients
– An easy way to increase fruit and vegetable intake
Are the shop bought juices any good?
Avoid pre-packaged juices and smoothies as they tend to oxidise and lose valuable nutritional and enzyme benefit. Processed juices often have additional sugars and preservative so always choose freshly made products.
Are juice fasts suitable for everyone?
Juices and smoothie cleanses are not recommended to people that require a high energy intake during the day such as athlete’s, manual labourers, children, adolescents and pregnant women. A liquid only diet can lead to dizziness, hunger and feelings or tiredness so is best suited when you do not have a gruelling schedule and your energy requirements are not high.
What is the best way to incorporate juices into my diet?
Fresh low sugar juices can complement a healthy well balanced diet to increase nutrient intake and replacing one meal a day with a juice or smoothie would not cause any harm providing the remainder of your diet is extremely nutrient dense to ensure adequate intake of protein, fibre and healthy fats. Short term juice fasts can also be beneficial but I would recommend no more than a 3 day cleanse to ensure you are not missing out on vital nutrients.
It is important to remember however that the body naturally detoxifies itself on a daily basis so if you are eating a healthy well balanced diet a juice or smoothie only diet may not be necessary. No amount of juices will make up for poor lifestyle choices or too much partying so remember a little bit of everything in moderation and not too much of any one thing!
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