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December

Why Juice? – The Beginner’s Guide To Juicing

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When improving our health and wellbeing, there are a myriad of choices we can make. So, why juice? Juicing offers its own unique road to recovery that we’ll explore in detail below. For me, it’s a proven winning strategy. I’ve been on my juicing journey for many years and can attest to it’s power to heal and profoundly impact a person’s life.

In my Beginner’s Guide To Juicing we’ll cover the basics: what juicing is, the benefits, how and what to juice, and how to incorporate juicing into your daily life. Sprinkled throughout are juicing tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Let’s dive in and get you started on your own juicing journey!

What Is Juicing?

Juicing is the physical process of removing the liquid (juice) from fresh, raw produce (fruits, vegetables, herbs, greens, and sprouts) while leaving behind the solids (pulp). By liberating the nutrient-dense juice from the fibrous mass, it concentrates the micronutrients. This allows the person drinking this living juice to reap the benefits of a much larger amount of fresh produce than could easily be consumed if it were whole.

Brett Canaday, aka Juice Feaster, with a produce haul. Why juice? Because it's great for your health!
Brett Canaday, aka Juice Feaster, with a produce haul.

The Benefits Of Juicing

The juice that is extracted from produce that you run through a juicer contains all the same nutrition that was contained in the original produce. The difference is that the majority of the fiber has been separated out. By separating out this fiber, we have created a version of the produce that is ultimately easier to consume and absorb into the bloodstream. This gives us the ability to take in a very high amount of nutrition in a way that is very easy for the body to digest.

For example, it would be difficult to eat the following in their raw, solid form in a single day:

1 bundle of kale, 1 bundle of chard, 1 bundle of parsley, 1 bundle of cilantro, 4 apples, 4 cucumbers, 1 head of celery, 1 knob of ginger, 5 beets, 1 lemon

But we can drink the juice extracted from this mountain of produce, with all its incredible nutrition, quite easily. It’s not just the concentrated nutrition that makes juicing such an excellent way to take care of your body. Below are the key benefits of juicing. It’s just the tip of the iceberg!

  • Concentrates high amounts of nutrition from large amounts of fresh produce that couldn’t normally be consumed in the same timeframe.
  • Nutrition is easy to digest and absorb by separating it from the plant fiber.
  • Promotes restoration and healing by allowing the body to refocus energy typically used for digestion.
  • Supports a healthy digestive system by giving the stomach and intestines a chance to eliminate and rest, something we rarely experience in our modern world of 24-7 eating.
  • Juicing is very anti-inflammatory. The concentrated phytonutrients in juices are extremely beneficial in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
  • Drinking fresh juices boost the immune system through the consumption of the antioxidants present in fresh juice that aid in the prevention of illness. Also, consuming juices help change the pH of the body from acidic and disease fostering to alkaline which helps prevent disease and promote health.
  • Helps achieve a wide variety of health goals, like low blood pressure and cholesterol, healthy weight, and glowing skin.

What About the Fiber?

Fiber is amazing for us, and you get all the soluble and some of the insoluble fiber when juicing. That said, our systems rarely if ever are given a break from solid food. Most of us have been fed non-stop since the day we were born; without the best tools to help us understand when we’ve had enough. We wind up eating more than we need, often without the accompanying nutrition our bodies so desperately need. In a nutshell, we’re overfed and undernourished and our system is on overload trying to process the nonstop bulk of our food intake.

Fibrous pulp left over from juicing.
Fibrous pulp left over from juicing.

Fiber is awesome, but it’s good to give our digestive system a break to allow it to rest, giving it and the rest of our body a chance to heal. Juicing is great because it gives us the nutrition we need while removing the fiber that takes extra metabolic energy to process. The energy saved not digesting can be diverted to a myriad of metabolic processes that help to clean up, heal, and support our bodies to be their very best.

How to Juice

Juicing is achieved using an appliance called a juice extractor or juicer. They come in a wide variety of types, sizes, and capacities, including both home and commercial use. For the home user, there are a large number of countertop models that lie on the spectrums of performance and price.

Juicing Vs. Blending

Nama J2 Juicer and Tribest Dynapro Blender
Left: Nama J2 Juicer – Right: Tribest Dynapro Blender

One common question that comes up with people new to juicing is the difference between juicing and blending. Most households have a blender or food processor, but it is not as common to have a juicer. So it’s understandable to think “Hey! I can use my blender for juicing!”. However, true juicing is difficult if not impossible to achieve when using any tool other than a juicer.

While blending fruits and veggies to make smoothies is a great way to get wholesome fruits or veggies into your diet, it has one main difference from juicing. Blending doesn’t remove the fiber, which we’ve established is the cornerstone of juicing. The nutrition concentration you get when juicing is achieved through simply breaking all that fiber down into liquid form. While fiber is an important part of an overall healthy diet, the goal of juicing is to deliver nutrition in a manner much easier on the digestive system.

For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, read our article Juicing vs. Blending for the similarities and differences of each.

Get Yourself a Juicer

When it comes to juicers, there is an entire set of terms to familiarize yourself with: masticating, cold-press, centrifugal, triturating, hydraulic press, single auger, twin gear, horizontal, vertical, and the list goes on. Before you run in dismay, the first thing you should do is identify your juicing goals.

Juice Feaster demoing (left to right): Pure Juicer, Tribest Green Star, Breville Juice Fountain
Juice Feaster demoing (left to right): Pure Juicer, Tribest Green Star, Breville Juice Fountain
  • Do you have a specific health condition you’re looking to address?
  • Are you interested in ways to support your overall health?
  • Are you starting a juice feast/cleanse?
  • Do you plan on juicing daily, weekly, or occasionally?
  • Are you going to juice only one type of produce (citrus, greens) or a wide variety?

Knowing your goals will help guide you when shopping for the best juicer. For help in picking one out, or leveling up from one you already have, read through How To Choose The Best Juicer – A Simple Guide! to make your decision easy. I’ve used a ton of juicers and this guide not only teaches you the different types of juicers but gives you my recommendations in each category.

Picking Out Produce

Selecting produce for juicing is just like it is for cooking. Look for fresh, unblemished items and store them as you would normally (refrigerator, countertop, etc), and juice them right away before they become wilted or bruised. Fresh is what you want for optimum nutrition and taste.

What produce you buy will depend on what recipes you’re using or what you want to experiment with. If you’re new to juicing, I advise going with some tried and true recipes that sound tastiest to you. Then once you have some experience, start playing around with ingredients and come up with your own combinations.

Juicer Test Kitchen Tip: Learn more about organic vs. conventional produce and ideas for saving money on groceries in our Juicer Tips & Tricks section.

Your First Juice

When starting out, keep it simple. Juice the fruits and veggies that you enjoy. Don’t overcomplicate it. Start out with basic, easy-to-find, delicious ingredients. Carrots, apples, melons, cucumbers, and celery all make great-tasting and healthy juices.

Here is a simple, classic juice to try. It’s the first juice recipe I ever made!

Everybody’s Doin’ It

Makes 32 fl oz

  • 8 Carrots
  • 4 Apples
  • 1 3″ Ginger Root
  • Cut off tops and scrub carrots (peel if desired).
  • Cut carrots into juicer-sized pieces.
  • Core apples and cut into juicer-sized pieces.
  • Scrub ginger root
  • Run all ingredients through juicer and enjoy!

After you’ve spent some time, maybe a few weeks, making simple juices from those ingredients, seek out more medicinal ingredients. By “medicinal”, we’re talking about greens, herbs, and roots that might have different flavors than what you’re used to, but add in incredible health benefits. Think about kale, chard, collards, parsley, arugula, cilantro, mint, basil, ginger, turmeric, and beets. By adding these items into the mix, you’ll not only be taking the juice flavors up a notch, but these ingredients pack an incredible nutritional punch!

Green juice with dandelion greens, kale, and a base of pineapple.

Head to our Juice Recipes section for a plethora of recipes to satisfy every taste and personal health goal.

How Much Juice Should I Drink?

My recommendation as you get started is to listen to your body. Start out slowly and ease your way into the juicy lifestyle. In theory, you should be able to drink unlimited juice. However, your body should be able to receive it without any discomfort. As you drink your juice, your stomach and entire system should be calm without any gurgling or churning. If you experience this, it’s a sign that your system is not quite accustomed to the juice yet. Take time to introduce small amounts and gradually work your way up as your system gets acquainted with the juices.

Nama J2 juicer with fresh watermelon juice.

Try having your first juice on an empty stomach. Start with 8-16 ounces. Drink it slowly over the course of 30 minutes to an hour. See how your body reacts. If you don’t have any issues, you can begin adding more volume at a time. For example, you could try having 32 oz at a time.

If a particular juice gives you some discomfort, reduce the amount to a level that doesn’t cause any stomach issues. Then you can gradually build the volume up over time. For me personally, green juices were the juices that gave me stomach issues when I first started juicing. Over time, however, my system adjusted and now I can drink as much as I want without any discomfort.

One other recommendation is to begin taking a daily probiotic. This helps to populate your system with beneficial gut bacteria which will help your system digest the amazing juices you are consuming.

As your juice consumption picks up gradually, you’ll be able to drink whatever healthy juice that you crave, whenever you want it, in whatever quantity you desire!

A Word About Sugar

Oh, that demon sugar! (Can you hear me chuckling?) It’s marked as the bane of all evil in much of pop health culture. When I tell someone how much juice I drink a day, and how much fruit I consume, many look at me in disbelieving horror. “But isn’t all that fruit BAD for you?” or “You shouldn’t be eating so much fruit, that much sugar will make you sick!” They’re all so concerned about my health, bless them, but I’m the one with excellent blood tests, boundless energy, and a clean bill of health. The source of many of our modern-day health woes, including type-2 diabetes, isn’t sugar.

Juice Feaster making fresh tangerine juice on the Pure Juicer.
Juice Feaster making fresh tangerine juice on the Pure Juicer.

Rather than eating too much fruit, it’s the high fat, high protein, and high sodium content of the typical western diet that leads to poor health. The combination of sugars with fats, in particular, is the dastardly duo causing rampant insulin resistance and clogged arteries. Sugar by itself is what the body runs on. Without it, we just don’t function. Apples are health-supporting, hamburgers not so much.

As with any lifestyle change, check with your doctor before you start your juicing adventure to ensure your journey is a smooth, health-giving one.

Keep It Clean

One of the biggest gripes about juicing is cleaning the juicer. I’ve always been perplexed by this since it’s no different than cleaning your pots, pans, and dishes after cooking a meal. Regardless, it’s still a thing.

While you might be tempted to not clean your juicer until the next day or even the next juicing session, clean it right away. Because we’re dealing with a raw finished product, potential contamination is greater than cooked food. So cleaning is key.

If we don’t, the residual juice and pulp left on the juicer will grow yeast, mold, and bacteria. These critters will ultimately be transferred to your next round of fresh juices if you make the juice on a dirty juicer. When present, they can cause the juice to spoil and it will definitely not be good for you to drink.

Most juicers really don’t take much longer than 5-10 minutes to clean. Take this short window of time and get your juicer ready for the next juicing session. While cleaning the juicer, take the opportunity to focus on how amazing, delicious and life-giving the juice will be that you just made. You’ll begin to associate the cleaning with these positive thoughts and not the time or the effort that it takes to clean it.

A clean juicer is a happy juicer!

OK! Let’s Get Juicing!

I hope you have found this Beginner’s Guide To Juicing helpful! It may seem like a lot of info to process, but after you juice a few times, you’ll begin to get the hang of it! As you progress, make sure to come back to this guide and re-visit the basics. Each time you look over the Beginner’s Guide it will begin to make more sense to you.

Also, if you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments section and we’ll answer them right away!

Stay Juicy!

About the Author

Brett leads the Juicer Test Kitchen. Utilizing his 25 years in the juice production and formulation industry, he brings you expert information on the wide world of juicing. From hands-on juicer reviews, tasty juice recipes, and real-world insights, he helps you get the most out of your juicing experience.

Brett not only has a career background in the juice world, but he is also a lifelong juicing advocate who has personally transformed and maintained his health using the magical powers of juicing and raw living foods.

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