Juicing, green juice, cleansing, etc. has become a very popular trend in the fitness, health, and wellness industry. I have on occasion bought a green juice from the various juice bars in Boston, and for a whopping $8- $12 you too can enjoy a vitamin packed, healthy green juice. The goal of this blog is to tell you about my first experience making my own green juice, and then to share some thoughts about it's actual benefits.
While staying in Norway, my family had a juicer that was still in a box from Christmas. I figured it would be worth it to open it up and dive into the world of making our own green juice. I went to the store and bought a lot of different fruits and vegetables that I've heard of in green juices but wanted to keep it simple. After poking around online I found a great website that offers an extensive list of ways to prepare foods before putting them through the juicer. Check that out here. I don't like using recipes so I didn't use one, but there are thousands of books and websites dedicated to juice recipes.
I read around for specific order or any tips/tricks but really didn't find much so I just dove in. And VOILA here was my green juice. It actually tasted pretty good; a little tang from the lemon and spice from the ginger. Even my young cousins enjoyed it!
I successfully created a great tasting green juice- but now that brings me to questions that I get very often and claims all around the internet about juice cleansing. I am asked quite frequently by clients about my thoughts on juice cleansing for weight loss, detoxification, etc. You can read online that there are many viewpoints of both sides. Some people and organizations say that juice cleansing does just that- it stimulates weight loss, improves metabolism, cleanses your GI tract, etc.
I decided to take a gander on more scientific databases such as Google Scholar, Pub Med, and library online databases. I performed a search using words such as green juice, juice cleanse, fruit and/or vegetable juice, and many phrases of that nature. I expected to see a few trials or something looking into the efficacy and influence of drinking fresh juice but after hours of reading, going through citation after citation of study I am reporting that there are few things I found that even related to the topic. What this really suggests is a few things. First, if the research, medical, health, and academic world are virtually uninterested in this topic, that should be a pretty significant red flag that you have fallen prey to unsupported information. If the information isn't supported, and isn't being researched either, it is a fair assumption that you may be wasting your time and money with a juice cleanse.
What I did find, was that increasing vegetable and fruit intake decreases many risk factors and chronic diseases- though this shouldn't be news to you. I found some studies that examined vegetable juices and fruit juices in the sense of widely available V8, orange juice, etc. Despite some of the positive findings of these studies (though not on a large scale), I am not going to share them to avoid possible confusion. These widely available juices are not the same as green juices and the goal of my search was to understand the actual benefits and mechanism for the hype around juice cleansing. The only negative things I read were the risks of drinking unpasturized juices related to salmonella and listeria.
I found one study that manually juiced leafy greens and assessed their influence on post- meal insulin responses and the innate qualities of the juice. There was some association with minimizing glycemic response after a meal (only tested in rats), and showed some relation to antioxidants. These findings really would need to be researched in a humans in a controlled, but more life- applicable setting for them to actually be in support of drinking green juices. Additionally, the leafy greens examined were as follows: Amaranth, Alternanthera, Sowa (I couldn't find this but believe its related to Dill, Basel, Methi, Palak/Spinach, Raphanus/Radish, Rumex, Ajwain. I included links to the closest wikipedia pages- as you can see these are mostly native to India and very uncommon in the United States. You can find the study here.
While it was interesting reading studies about fruit/vegetable/exotic indian greens I am sad to say that I have no conclusive evidence to share with you. What you should take away from this is that a green juice, or any fresh juice you buy or create at home should taste good, can serve as a great addition to an already healthy diet, or be a great alternative to a snack that would otherwise be unhealthy. I personally will enjoy a green juice much in the same capacity you would drink lemonade on a hot day, but otherwise don't expect much more from it.
The key to health, weight loss, energy, and reduced risk of chronic diseases as always is a healthy diet including veggies, healthy fat, protein, and only complex- carbohydrates.