Just like green smoothies green juices have become all the rage when it comes to living a healthy life, but like many crazes, people can get a bit 'crazy' and derail with some of the core principles when it comes to embracing certain healthy habits. I recently wrote about this in relation to the Paleo trend. But is it any wonder that so many people find themselves bewildered and confused, thanks to the mass of information available on the internet nowadays - and the majority of it coming from unqualified sources. But in this post, I want to focus on six of the most common mistakes people make with their morning juice, to clear up any confusion and ensure your body really is getting more bang for your health buck!
Juicing Fruit - ahhh fruit glorious fruit, packed with vitamins, minerals and disease preventing phytonutrients - YES!! But fruit is also a rich source of natural fruit sugar - FRUCTOSE. So the key with fruit is to eat it whole - not juiced - because when you juice fruit, you remove the fibre and when you do that you are left with just pure fructose, enriched with nutrients, but none the less, this is when fruit becomes fattening. And when you consider how many pieces of fruit some juice recipes contain - you could be consuming as much sugar as a soft drink! The only fruit I recommend adding to your morning fresh juice, is fresh lemon and or grapefruit, as these are super low in fructose and are highly alkalising. But if you're new to the green juicing game, then you may need to ease into it by adding half a green apple - just to take the edge off the bitterness from the lemon or grapefruit, but as your palette changes from consuming less sugar in your diet, you won't need the added sweetness from the apple.
Drinking your green juice with a meal - the purpose of fresh juicing is to deliver a concentrated form of nutrients that are easily digested and absorbed and highly alkalising to reduce inflammation. But I see so many folks ordering a green juice with a meal when dining out at cafe thinking they are doing the right thing by their health. The best way to consume your green juice is on an empty stomach 20 - 30 minutes before eating to ensure you get the full health benefits.
Juicing Kale - I recall when the kale craze really started to go nuts (and still is), people can go really overboard this with super green, adding raw kale to EVERYTHING, but the truth is you can have too much of a good thing and kale is one vegetable that I recommend to avoid juicing, or limit to no more than once a week, especially if you have an underactive thyroid. The truth is kale is a super healthy vegetable, but it is best consumed cooked. You can read the reasons why in this post here.
Overdosing on spinach - like kale, silverbeet or spinach is a wonderfully healthy green vegetable, rich in iron, however it is also high in oxalic acid (which can irritate IBS - irritable bowel syndrome in some people. So the key is BALANCE and you can achieve this by rotating your sources of green vegetables if you're juicing every day and or just add one stalk of silver beet to test your tolerance to begin with - you will know if your green juice is not agreeing with you if it causes an upset tummy or loose bowel movements.
Using non organic vegetables - non - organic vegetables, in particular broad leaf varieties like spinach, are heavily sprayed with chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides which have proven links to cancer and other diseases. The whole idea behind drinking a fresh green vegetable juice is to maximise your nutrition to prevent disease and alkalise your body, so juicing chemically sprayed vegetables kind of defeats the purpose in my view. BUT I understand that not everyone can access or afford organic or chemical free vegetables, so in this case I strongly recommend soaking your vegetables in apple cider vinegar and water for around 20 minutes or more, to reduce any chemical residue.
Storing your fresh juice in the fridge - In order to get maximum nutrition from your green juice, it's important to drink it directly after making it because the delicate enzymes will start to oxidise when exposed to oxygen, losing their nutritional properties. I get asked by a lot by people if they can whip up a batch of fresh green juice to store in the fridge for a few days in advance to save on time, but sadly although it may be convenient, it defeats the purpose of drinking a green juice each day. The only exception is if you are using a cold pressed or masticating juicer, because it uses no heat, keeping the enzymes intact much more compared to if you are using a centrifugal juicer. If you do store cold pressed juices, I recommend refrigerating them in an airtight, sterile glass jar or bottle (filled to the top with no air gap) for no longer than 24-36 hours, to limit exposure to oxygen.
Juicing is a fantastic way to get a concentrated dose of disease preventing nutrients into your body, which are easily absorbed, especially when you may not be eating enough fresh vegetables at meal times. I have been drinking a fresh green vegetable juice each morning for more than 12 years now and I swear by the many health benefits, which range from more energy, clearer skin, brighter eyes and better digestion. In fact, I can feel the difference within just a few days if I go without. Even when I am travelling I go out of my way to find a juice bar that will make up a fresh green juice made from organic vegetables, and I give them my Green Goddess recipe to ensure it is low in sugar. So if you haven't already tried kick starting your day with a fresh green juice, then I challenge you to for the next 7 days and experience for yourself the difference it can make to your day to day function and long term wellbeing! I'd love to hear about your results in the comments section below!
For more great tips and delicious recipes to help you lead a healthy life and heal your gut, grab a copy of my book Love Your Gut