Principal benefits of juicing
I was recently asked about the health benefits of juicing.
Interestingly, someone said “I know we should, I know it’s supposed to be good for us, but why?”
Juicing, especially drinking alkaline, green, vegetable based juices, has a load of benefits, and I have 9 or 10 books on the subject of alkaline health and juicing, and I have been to a couple of seminars about it, so it’s quite tricky to answer in just a few sentences. The more you study this subject the deeper it gets and then the more there is to learn. As I study the subject of acid-alkaline balance more, I find great inconsistencies in the science. I find I am troubled by the science, but it would take me the next 20,000 words to explain, so let’s stay ‘on the surface’ for now, we can always go deeper another time.
I’ll attempt to summarise the ‘main stream’ alkalising argument for you here.
So keeping it as simple as possible, you want your blood to be slightly alkaline, ideally at a pH between about 7.25 and 7.5.
In essence, it works like this: As we go through life, we ingest toxins, and we are exposed to substances and stresses that cause toxicity in our bodies. Examples of these toxins are the chemicals and additives in our food, air pollution, the chemicals used to treat our drinking water, nicotine, alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, trace heavy metals polluting our fish, and so on. Toxins are all acidic, and as our bodies work to process and eliminate these toxins, so our blood becomes more acidic. Additionally, much of the food we eat causes acidity in the blood – red meat, fish, sugary food, most processed and refined food and all refined sugars are all acid-producing.
Also, one of the biggest factors causing acidity in our blood is stress hormones. The odd bit of ‘fight or flight’ type stress is no big deal, as that ‘shot’ is only brief, so some adrenaline-pumping sport, or a security guard catching a shop lifter, or standing up to address an important meeting, these stresses are fairly healthy. It’s the constant low-level stress we all seem to live with that is unhealthy – the constant money worries, the miserable ten o’clock news every night, worrying about our kids school results, stressing over car payments, our malicious line manager or co-worker, that awkward neighbour or that oppressive credit card bill. This stress is acid-producing 24/7 and not good for us. We wake up worrying and we worry all day and go to bed worrying and this can be very harmful over many years.
Toxins cause disease, as they accumulate in the body
Toxins and acidity cause disease. In the opinion of many experts, a lot of cases of the major modern lifestyle diseases (heart disease and cancer for instance) are caused or aided by acidity in the body, and an acidic internal environment causes these conditions to worsen. There are a number of cancer treatment retreats around the world (Gerson, Optimum Health Institute, Hippocrates, Robert Young pH miracle, and more) which promote ‘extreme’ alkalizing as a cancer reduction therapy, and enjoy tremendous life-saving success. These treatments are all administered by the patient drinking lots of green juices, along with other therapies.
So one of the great health benefits of juicing is it’s alkalizing effect on our bodies…undoing all this acid-forming crap in our lifestyles. Juiced vegetables are super-alkaline, juiced fruit not quite so much. The more sweet things (carrots and apples for us juicers) to make our juices taste sweeter, the more acidic the juice. Broadly speaking, if we only juiced veggies, the juices wouldn’t taste so good and many people would not drink them, so we add apples, pineapple, carrots and so on to make them sweeter and more palatable. For most purposes this is fine, but it’s worth remembering not to overdo the apples or carrots if you are trying to alkalize. The other trick is to juice all the green veggies you can, then blend them with mango, or banana, or avocado in a blender, making a tasty nutritious smoothie.
So now we know that modern lifestyles are ‘acid forming’, and we know that a healthy body would like to have more alkaline blood, and we now know that juicing, as well as eating a vegetarian diet rich in leafy green veggies, brightly coloured veggies and berries, and some fruit, is a great natural healthy way to be more alkaline and reduce the acid-forming effects of modern life.
Now the good stuff…what does this actually do for us, in terms of visible health benefits?
Toxins are acidic, and the body stores acids in fatty tissues, so an acidic body tends to hoard fat, because it needs and uses fat to ‘lock away’ those toxins. See, the body knows these toxins are bad for your organs, so it doesn’t want toxins floating freely around in your blood. Ideally, your body wants to eliminate the toxins, but every day our lifestyles continue to be acid forming - more processed food, more chemicals, more stress, not enough sleep, etc. So the body/blood is constantly acidic, and therefore never gets a chance to process and eliminate the toxins/acids. It still doesn’t want them floating around your blood stream, because they are dangerous to your organs, so the next best thing to eliminating them, is to lock them away and deal with them later. The place your body ‘locks away’ acids is in body fat. This is one of the major jobs fat does in your body.
Often, people who are ‘too fat’ are actually just ‘too acidic’, and if they can get their blood alkaline enough for long enough (a few weeks, a few months) then the fat will just melt away. This is how alkalizing works, and how you stay healthy (all those nutrient-dense green drinks) but lose weight rapidly. For one thing, you are in caloric deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming), but additionally, your blood is alkaline, and the incoming-tide of acid forming lifestyle factors has been reduced (the stress may still be there but the crappy processed food is gone). This allows your body to process those locked away toxins and eliminate them.
Elimination, the bit you don’t like during a detox
That elimination comes in many forms – wee, poops, snot, headaches, sweat, bogies, phlegm, acne, rashes…the list is endless, ANY thing your body ‘ejects’ apart from blood (if you are cut) and reproductive fluid, is a form of elimination.
This is why people get ill when they start a detox – the caffeine withdrawal headaches, the night sweats, the fever, the mucous – because you have stopped taking in garbage, your blood has become alkaline, and your body is finally free to unlock all those toxins and get them back into the blood and then flush them out. As they are unlocked, the blood becomes acidic again, making you feel ill, as it processes the crap and flushes it out…you just keep putting alkaline good stuff in, and the body will keep flushing the bad stuff out. Some people who have carried excess weight all their lives might be unlocking toxins that have been in store for decades.
So now you understand the typical pattern of a detox – that’s why you feel awful to start with, with nasty bodily wastes coming out of every orifice and every pore, but then you feel better and begin to lose weight.
Personally, I do not juice all the time, but I like to have a detox 2 or 3 times per year, juicing maybe twice a day (replacing at least 1 meal) for a couple of weeks while really focussing on a clean, lean, vegetarian diet at the same time and easing up on my training intensity. Taking in masses of good quality nutrients via a juice gives your body a short rest, it’s like a little holiday for your digestive system. Your blood and organs get all the benefits of all those vitamins, minerals and enzymes, without your stomach and intestines having to chomp, break down and process all that food.
Our ancient caveman ancestors would have fasted intermittently, during tough times when food was in short supply, they would have been forced to fast from time to time. In our modern lives we rarely fast, food is available every few hours and we hardly ever skip a meal time. Our digestive system is constantly working, often processing things we are not ideally supposed to eat, so living on juice, raw vegetables and fruits, a light salad and some home-made vegetable soup for a week or two gives your digestive system a refreshing holiday too.
I think I should stop there for now, as I could go on and on about alkalising for cancer treatment, alkalising for weight loss, alkalising for heart disease risk factors and so on…there are many books and there is much to learn. And besides, as I noted earlier, I am personally still uncertain about the efficacies of alkalising…if I re-wrote this blog post completely, and just talked about toxins (not mentioning that they are acidic) and talked about NUTRIENTS (vitamins and minerals, using the world nutritious everywhere I have used the word alkaline) then it would make just as much sense. I am still, at this time, questioning the science behind how acidity and alkalinity is measured in our bodies.
But what I do not question, is that green juice drinks work for the detox and healthy weight-loss purposes I have discussed above. Whether they work because they are alkaline, or because they are full of nutrients, is open to debate. Hopefully this makes sense as a starter!
Search elsewhere on this site and you will find some green juice recipes you can try. Go for it!