Everyone worth their salt in the nutrition world agrees that fresh juices are one of the best things for your health. If you asked me what was the one thing you could do to feel better today, I would definitely tell you to start adding fresh juices to your diet.
Having been juicing for 12 years, here are some of my best tips for getting the best out of your juices:
1. Give vegetables centre stage. To get the best health benefits you want green vegetables to make up the majority of your juices. Fruits (like apples and pears) and sweet vegetables (like beetroot and carrot) add sweetness, but, they may spike your blood sugar so it’s best to make sure 75% of each juice is made up of vegetables.
2. Wash your vegetables and fruit really well. Anything you put in the juicer needs to be washed in cold water to remove any lingering dirt (especially in broccoli heads or celery).
3. Go organic if you can. If for financial (or other) reasons your choice is between juicing non-organic vegetables and not juicing at all, there are still plenty of health benefits to juicing regardless. Just wash the vegetables carefully in lukewarm water to help remove pesticides.
4. Get your juicing technique. There’s a bit of a knack to getting the most juice out of your vegetables. Pack any leafy greens (like spinach or kale) tightly into the chute first while the juicer’s switched off. If there’s space you can put some harder vegetables on top (like carrot or cucumber) or use the plunger to firmly push the veg through when you turn the juicer on. You can then juice harder vegetables and fruit and they’ll help push any remaining pieces of softer vegetables through the juicer.
5. Add lemon or lime to juices to help slow down oxidation. If you cut an apple or avocado in half, you’ll see the flesh turning brown almost straight away (oxidation). If you add a drop of lemon or lime to the apple, the vitamin C (antioxidant) helps to slow down the oxidation process, but doesn’t prevent it. Adding lemon can help your juices last a wee bit longer.
6. Drink your juice on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning, or at least 30 minutes before a meal is ideal. If you drink it with food, your body is going to be too busy with digesting the food and won’t prioritise getting the juice to where it needs to go.
7. Drink your juice within 20 minutes. Fresh juices are best consumed, fresh. The juicer breaks open the cell walls of the fruit and vegetables, making it a “live food” because it activates all the nutrients (phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes). But when the juice meets air, it begins to react to the oxygen and you start to lose nutrients. The sooner you drink it, the higher the nutritional value.
8. Chew your juice. The name of the game is to “chew your drink, and drink your food”. When you “chew” your juice you’re telling your body that this highly nutritious food is on its way. Rather than gulping it down without the body even realising. Take your time and be mindful about all the good it’s doing your system – each mouthful is will nourish your 100 trillion cells! And when you eat, chew your food so well (20 times at least!), so you can “drink” it.
9. Take a juice with you. Drinking your juice straight away means you get the highest nutritional value, but it’s still worth making one for later if you’re going to be on the go. Immediately fill a flask or a glass bottle to the brim (to minimise the oxygen in the bottle), add a bit of lemon and seal. Keep it cold, so put it in the fridge or in a cooler. If you use a centrifugal juicer (like a blade), the juice can last up to 7 hours, and if it’s a masticating juicer (like a screw), the juice can last up to 48 hours.
10. Wash the juicer straight away. If you wash the juicer there and then it will take you two seconds, as all the pulp will easily rinse off. You really want to make sure the juicer is kept clean and bacteria free, so once it’s washed, let it air dry. The longer you leave the juicer dirty, the more elbow grease you’ll have to use and it will start to stain and discolour.
The bonus tip: Have washed fruit and vegetables in the fridge. If you can wash a whole bunch of fruit and veg every other day and put them in containers in the fridge that will give you a head start each morning (and may even encourage you to juice more as it will all be ready to go, go, go).