Quality of life begins with the quality of the foods that sustain it. The surest path to health and energy, strong bones, and beautiful skin begins with a diet rich in natural foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Especially important on this road to health are fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Fresh juices provide vital proteins, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients critical to good health in one serving.
The Surgeon General, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Cancer Institute, and many other experts have long agreed that fresh fruits and vegetables are the key to good nutrition. Juicing is the most fun and efficient way to increase your consumption of these life-giving foods as it provides the nutritional advantages of plant foods in a concentrated form that is easily absorbed by the body.
The advantages of increased energy, strengthened immunity, reduced risk of disease, strong bones, and the glowing complexion that is the evidence of great health can all be yours when fresh fruit and vegetable juices play a key role in your daily diet.
what do americans eat?
The so-called Standard American Diet, or SAD, does not provide adequate levels of fruits and vegetables. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Health over the past 20 years, French fries or potato chips notwithstanding, fewer than 10 percent of Americans meet the minimum recommendation of 2 fruit servings and 3 vegetable servings a day—in fact, the average number of daily servings of dark green or orange vegetables in American adults is 0.3 servings per day.
Instead of eating foods rich in vital nutrients, most Americans focus on refined foods high in calories, sugar, fat, and cholesterol, filling up on cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies and washing them down with artificially colored and flavored fruit drinks or colas. More and more food additives (such as preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and acidifiers) have been shown to be extremely detrimental to health. Many have been banned because they were found to cause cancer and a great number of synthetic food additives are still in use that are being linked to such diseases as depression, asthma and other allergies, hyperactivity and learning disabilities in children, and migraine headaches. Synthetic food additives need to be avoided. It is a “SAD” fact that diet has replaced cigarettes as the number one contributor to premature death, and that 8 out of every 10 Americans over the age of 25 are now overweight or obese. Diet and obesity contribute to heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and virtually every other major disease afflicting our society. It’s little wonder when you take a look at what we eat.
Based on detailed national health and nutrition surveys, it has been estimated that in one year, the average American consumes 100 pounds of refined sugar and 55 pounds of fats and oils in the form of:
•300 bottles of sugary beverages
•18 pounds of candy
•5 pounds of potato chips
•7 pounds of corn chips, popcorn, and pretzels
•63 dozen doughnuts and pastries
•50 pounds of cakes and cookies
•20 gallons of ice cream
On top of this, nearly one-third of our adult population smokes and at least 10 percent are alcoholics. And what about the health effects of the more than 4 billion pounds of additives, pesticides, and herbicides added to our foods each year? It is no wonder that as a nation, according to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United States ranked lower in life expectancy than 39 other industrial nations in 2012, despite the fact that we spend more money on health care than any nation in the world.
antioxidants and the battle against free radicals
Throughout this book, many key benefits of consuming fresh juices will be pointed out, but perhaps the greatest benefit is that they provide high levels of natural plant compounds known as antioxidants, which can protect the body against aging, cancer, heart disease, and many other degenerative conditions. The cells of the human body are constantly under attack. The culprits? Compounds known as free radicals and pro-oxidants. A free radical is a molecule that contains a highly reactive unpaired electron. A pro-oxidant is a molecule that can promote oxidative damage. These highly reactive molecules can bind to and destroy other cellular components. Free-radical damage is a cause of aging and is also linked to the development of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis, among others.
Most of the free radicals zipping through our bodies are actually produced during normal and necessary metabolic processes like energy generation, detoxification reactions, and immune defense mechanisms. The major source of free-radical damage in the body is actually the oxygen molecule, the very molecule that gives us life! Just as oxygen can rust iron, when toxic oxygen molecules are allowed to attack our cells free-radical or oxidative damage occurs.
Although the body’s own generation of free radicals is significant, the environment contributes greatly to the free-radical load of an individual. Cigarette smoking, for example, greatly increases an individual’s free-radical load. Many of the harmful effects of smoking are related to the extremely high levels of free radicals being inhaled, depleting key antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene. Other external sources of free radicals include ionizing radiation, chemotherapeutic drugs, air pollutants, pesticides, anesthetics, aromatic hydrocarbons, fried food, solvents, alcohol, and formaldehyde. These compounds greatly stress the body’s antioxidant mechanisms. Individuals exposed to these environmental factors need the additional nutritional support that fresh juices can provide.
With the help of antioxidants and enzymes found in the plant foods we consume, including carotenes, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, sulfur-containing compounds and many other phytochemicals, our cells can protect against free-radical and oxidative damage. Free radicals must be broken down by enzymes or be chemically neutralized before they react with cellular molecules. Examples of the free-radical scavenging enzymes produced by the body are catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase. Taking enzymes as an oral supplement has not been shown to increase enzyme tissue levels. However, ingesting antioxidant nutrients—such as manganese, sulfur-containing amino acids, carotenes, flavonoids, and vitamin C—has been shown to increase tissue concentrations of the enzymes.
The other way the cell can protect itself against free radical or oxidative damage is by chemical neutralization, or antioxidants binding to or neutralizing the free radical or pro-oxidant. Dietary antioxidants block free-radical damage by chemically reacting with the free radical or pro-oxidant to neutralize it. Ingesting fresh juices can increase tissue concentrations of antioxidant phytochemicals, thereby supporting normal protective mechanisms and blocking free-radical and oxidative damage to cells of the body.
the role of the diet in disease prevention
An extensive body of research has clearly established the link between the SAD and the development of the primary “diseases of civilization” such as heart disease, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallstones, arthritis, and many more. Likewise, one of the best bets in preventing virtually every chronic disease is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables of assorted colors. The evidence in support of this recommendation is so strong that it has been endorsed by U.S. government health agencies and by virtually every major medical organization, including the American Cancer Society.
Fruits and vegetables are so important in the battle against cancer that some experts believe that cancer is a result of a maladaptation over time to a reduced level of intake of fruits and vegetables. As a study published in the medical journal Cancer Causes and Control put it, “Vegetables and fruit contain the anticarcinogenic cocktail to which we are adapted. We abandon it at our peril.”1
A vast number of substances found in fruits and vegetables are known to protect against cancer. Collectively they are referred to as chemopreventers, but they are better known as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals include pigments such as carotenes, chlorophyll, and flavonoids; dietary fiber; enzymes; vitamin-like compounds; and other minor dietary constituents. Although they work in harmony with nutritional antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, phytochemicals exert considerably greater protection against cancer than these simple nutrients.
Among the most important groups of phytochemicals are pigments such as chlorophyll, carotenes, and flavonoids responsible for the color of many fruits and vegetables. One of my key dietary recommendations is for people to consume a “rainbow” diet; they need to focus on colorful fruits and vegetables (see table 1.1). Regularly consuming the full spectrum of fruit and vegetables—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple—provides the body the full contingent of pigments with powerful antioxidant effects as well as the nutrients it needs for optimal function and protect against disease. Juicing provides a great way to color your diet with these life-giving foods.
Drinking at least 12 to 16 ounces of juice each day is as easy as swapping your morning coffee for juice. If you work away from home, make enough juice to fill your thermos and take it to work with you. A midmorning or midafternoon juice pick-me‑up is a healthful way to keep your energy level high. At lunch and dinner, start your meal with a “salad in a glass.” Once you start experiencing some of the benefits of juicing, incorporating fresh fruit and vegetable juice in your daily routine will become second nature.
fresh juice vs. whole fruits and vegetables
You may ask, “Why juice? Aren’t we supposed to eat whole fruits and vegetables to get the fiber?” The answer: Of course you are, but juice gets you more, faster. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables does provide some fiber, particularly the soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Think about it—fiber really refers to indigestible material found in plants; while this is important for proper bowel function, the juice of the plant ultimately contains the nutrients that nourish us. Our body actually converts the food we eat into juice so that it can be absorbed, so juicing actually saves the body energy, resulting in increased energy levels. Juicing also helps the body’s digestive process and allows for quick absorption of high-quality nutrition. Juicing quickly provides the most easily digestible and concentrated nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables.
fresh juice vs. canned, bottled, or frozen juices
Fresh juice not only contains greater nutritional values than its canned, bottled, or frozen counterparts, but it also contains enzymes and other “living” ingredients. In contrast, canned, bottled, and packaged juices have been pasteurized, which keeps them on the shelf longer causing the loss of identifiable vitamins and minerals as well as the loss of other factors not yet fully understood.
A group of researchers at Health Canada designed a scientific study comparing the antiviral activity of fresh apple juice to commercial apple juice from concentrate, apple cider, and apple wine.2 The most potent antiviral activity was found in fresh apple juice. Why? Commercial apple juices are produced using methods like pasteurization that destroy enzymes and alter many key compounds. In doing so, a great deal of the antiviral activity is also lost.
The compounds that are responsible for the antiviral activity of fresh apple juice are various flavonoid molecules. More will be discussed regarding these valuable compounds in chapter 3; the point being made here is that they are found in the highest quantities in fresh, not commercial apple juice (see table 1.2).
Fresh apple juice also contains ellagic acid, a compound that exerts potent antioxidant and anticancer properties,3 while commercial apple juice that has been cooked has been stripped of this enriching natural factor. Ellagic acid protects against damage to the chromosomes, while blocking the cancer-causing actions of many pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in cigarette smoke and toxic chemicals such as benzopyrene. Ellagic acid is not destroyed by freezing or freeze-drying, but it can be destroyed by heat. While fresh whole apples and fresh apple juice contain 100 to 130 mg ellagic acid per 100 g (roughly 3.5 ounces), the amount found in cooked or commercial apple products is at or near zero.4 The flavonoid and ellagic acid content is exceptionally high in many berries, particularly raspberries and blackberries, which can contain up to 1.5 mg ellagic acid per gram. The levels in berries are approximately five to six times higher than those levels found in other foods.5 But again, that only applies to the fresh fruit or juice.
Another example of how freshness impacts nutritional value is dietary glutathione. Glutathione is a small protein composed of three amino acids manufactured in our cells, which aids in the detoxification of heavy metals such as lead as well as in the elimination of pesticides and solvents. Whether our bodies can meet the demand for glutathione is contingent on how much fresh vegetation we consume. While fresh fruits and vegetables provide ample glutathione, processed foods do not (see table 1.3).6 To derive the greatest benefit from our foods, we should consume them in their freshest forms.
At each step in the modern evolution of the orange, there is a loss of nutritional value. For example, the vitamin C content of pasteurized orange juice is extremely unreliable. As with most processed juices, the total nutritional quality is substantially lower than that of fresh juice. This is particularly true for juices stored in paperboard containers lined with wax or polyethylene. These products will lose up to 75 percent of their vitamin C content within three weeks.7 Frozen juice concentrates fare no better, and orange drinks have no vitamin C unless it is added. This highlights the fact that in the latter stages listed below there is not only a decrease in nutritional value, there is also an increase in the number of synthetic additives.
the modern evolution of the orange
Raw, whole oranges or freshly prepared orange juice
Refined, processed (pasteurized) unsweetened orange juice
Refined, processed, sweetened orange juice or concentrate
Refined, highly processed, sweetened, artificially colored, and flavored “orange” drinks
Completely fabricated products (such as Tang)
fresh juice vs. processed food products
The best way to reduce exposure to preservatives and other synthetic additives is to consume as many fresh and natural foods as possible. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables is not only a great way to increase dietary intake of important nutritional components, it also circumvents the majority of harmful additives and preservatives. This is especially true if you juice only organic produce.
cooking: homey and healthy don’t always equate
Although less ruthless than commercial processing methods, home handling and cooking also means loss of nutrients in fruits and vegetables. For example, leafy vegetables will lose up to 87 percent of their vitamin C content upon cooking, while carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables will lose up to 33 percent of vitamin B1, 45 percent of B2, 61 percent of B3, and 76 percent of vitamin C. However, cooking is not the only way fruits and vegetables lose nutritional value: Oxygen exposure can be just as detrimental. A slice of cantaloupe left uncovered in the refrigerator will lose 35 percent of its vitamin C content in 24 hours. Freshly sliced cucumbers, if left standing, will lose between 41 and 49 percent of their vitamin C content within the first three hours.8
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Murray. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.