The finished product

Juice Reboots

Once upon a time, I watched a film called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” It’s about a guy (Joe Cross) who changed his life by juicing fresh fruits and vegetables (and drinking them). Aside from sharing his experiences in the movie, he started a program called “Reboot Your Life.” The premise is that for a period of time, you eat and drink only fresh fruits and vegetables to reboot your system – to break unhealthy eating habits and retrain your body to crave healthy whole foods.

Now, Joe did his initial reboot for 60 days – that’s two months of living on solely juice. Some might say that’s a bit extreme. Me? I love the idea of juice reboots and have personally found them to be very effective, but I stick to a 5-7 day plan with a few allowances beyond Joe’s plans, and recipes from another one of my favorite juicers.

As I started getting into juicing, I came across this modern-day juicing pioneer: Jason Vale, also known as the Juice Master. His story started as he searched for ways to treat his severe psoriasis, a chronic auto-immune skin disease. Through juicing, he saw extreme improvement in his skin condition and lost weight as well. Jason Vale is one of those over-the-top enthusiasts whose energy and zest for life and juicing is contagious. He’s very interactive via videos on his web site, and is a best selling author of a number of books on juicing.

When I find myself too far off the beaten path of healthy eating, I do a 5-7 day juice reboot. I drink 2-3 16oz juices per day, and eat one meal consisting of fruits and vegetables (usually a giant salad), or a homemade veggie soup. Snacks are fruits and veggies. I do allow myself to have dressing on my salads (hey, I’m an imperfect human). This plan works well for me. It’s not as extreme as going juice-only, but seems to me to adhere to the spirit and intention of a reboot. Eating solid fruits and veggies fills that “need to eat!” void without straying from the nutritional goals of the reboot.

Why do I do juice reboots? For me, the effects are very positive.

  • They serve a cleansing role to help detox from periods of eating too much processed food.
  • They help retrain my brain to crave whole foods.
  • They reset my notions of “satisfied” and “full” when I’ve gone overboard with portion sizes.
  • They serve as a springboard to reaffirm my self-awareness of healthy eating and fitness habits.

How do juice reboots make me feel? Without fail, after the second day or so, my body feels so amazingly fresh and alert and just plain good. I marvel over it again and again. It makes me kick myself for ignoring proper nutrition in the first place. It’s hard to know how bad you really felt until you come out on the other side feeling spectacular. Even when I think I was feeling OK, I’m shocked at how bad that “OK” really was. Proper nutrition and energy levels seem to go hand in hand for me. I’m reminded all over again at what amazing machines our bodies are, and just how much our bodies can do when we provide the right forms of energy and fuel.

When it comes to juicing, there are definitely pro’s and con’s to the whole practice. Juicing isn’t some miracle cure for diseases or obesity, but it can certainly play a role in improving the conditions of both. Juicing isn’t necessarily “healthier” than actually eating the whole fruits and vegetables, but in my experience, juicing allows me to drink veggies that I rarely eat enough of. In most cases, if I don’t juice those veggies, they don’t get consumed at all. I have a harder time eating enough greens and veggies (cabbage, chard, kale, spinach, etc) but an easy time drinking them. To me, juicing is better than nothing!

On the down side:

  • Juicers aren’t cheap. A small, basic one costs around $80, but if you plan to juice daily, you’ll want to consider a more heavy-duty model. In that case, you’re looking at $150 and up. (That said, I’ve got the Breville Juice Fountain Plus and absolutely love it. It runs about $150, and if you’ve got a Bed Bath and Beyond nearby, you can use their 20% off coupon on it).
  • Organic produce isn’t cheap. Conventional produce is much less expensive, and if that’s the only way you can manage to afford juicing, go for it – but I prefer organic. I find organic produce to taste much better and be more healthful without chemicals, pesticides, and genetic modification.
  • While juicing is nearly as nutritious as eating the whole fruit or veggie, you lose the fiber (which is contained in the pulp).
  • As with any instance of “drinking your calories,” even fresh fruit and veggie juices can be high in calories.

On the bright side:

  • The body absorbs nutrients from freshly juiced fruits and vegetables more easily and quickly than from the whole fruits and veggies.
  • Juicing offers an easy way to sneak in servings of fruits and veggies that you might not enjoy eating in their whole forms.
  • Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables contain the same vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients as their whole counterparts.
  • Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables offer the same nutritional benefits as whole fruits and veggies – including decreased risk of cancer and other diseases, improved immune system function, decreased inflammation, and detoxification.

While juicing is pretty trendy right now, there’s no shortage of evidence of its benefits from the big names. ABC News did a good intro to juicing a few years back: Juicing Up Your Nutrition, and the Mayo Clinic says that juicing is a fun way to try new fruits and veggies or add ones to your diet that you wouldn’t normally eat. Dr. Oz often touts the benefits of juicing, and has a great juice recipe on his web site – the Anti Aging Green Monster Drink – a concoction of freshly juiced apple, carrot, cucumber, and kale, blended with yogurt. He explains:

It’s loaded with protective phytonutrients, found in fruits and vegetables, known to help boost your body’s defenses against cancer and chronic degenerative diseases. It can help correct diet deficiences – and tastes good, too.

Some people avoid juicing because of the perceived hassle. While it’s best to juice fresh each time you want to have a drink, you can certainly prepare a whole day’s worth of juices for convenience. I’m sure some juicers can be a pain to clean, but my Breville is very easy to manage. It takes me 1:48 to clean my juicer (that’s one minute, 48 seconds). I rinse all of the parts and scrub the filter basket, and let them air dry. Once a week I run the parts through the dishwasher. Done. My daily juicing takes all of 5 minutes, start to finish – prep to juice to cleaning.

My juicer has become a vital addition to my kitchen. It lives on my counter and is in constant use. You can find all of my juice recipes and juicing posts under the Juicing category here on EpicOrganic.

Do you have a favorite juice concoction? I’d love to hear it!

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