Juicing for Wellness & Stress Relief
Many of us are undoubtedly stressed and anxious right now – about the health and well being of our loved ones, our own health, our businesses and finances and what the future will look like after this is all over. I have certainly been feeling it. There’s this pervasive heaviness in my body and spirit that I’ve been trying to shake off for some time. During these times, the best we can do is try and stay as grounded, healthy and present as possible. And feeding our bodies what they need is paramount to our good health and well being.
When our bodies are fed the right nutrients, they respond positively to stress and pressure. Drinking fresh pressed fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals is a great way to counteract anxiety. Conversely, when we are vitamin deficient, we are more prone to stress, anxiety and depression.
Food has the capacity to either fight disease or fuel it!
I first learned about juicing many moons ago, long before I became vegan. I had gone to a seminar with a friend to see Jay Kordich, “The Juiceman”, or otherwise known as “The Father of Juicing”.
He was well known for his exuberant personality and his TV infomercials where he espoused the many benefits of juicing raw fruits and vegetables. He even credited juicing with curing his own bladder cancer when he was in his twenties. It was Kordich who was at the forefront of the juicing movement that we have today.
Around this same time, my cousin who was a professional dancer and always seemingly healthy, was diagnosed with not one but two cancers at just 23 years of age. She needed surgery right away, but when the doctors recommended she begin an intense course of chemotherapy with terrible side effects and possible loss of hearing, she said ‘no’. This was the mid 90’s, and chemo’s side effects were far scarier and more debilitating than they are today.
My cousin instead chose to take an alternative, holistic route, working with her brother-in-law, a naturopathic doctor who recently graduated from Bastyr University in Seattle. He put her on a plant based diet and juicing regimen right away, bringing her fresh pressed juices that he made to the hospital. To this day, she juices regularly and is cancer free (well over 20 years now). She attributes her recovery from cancer to her surgery and to the juicing and strict vegan diet she committed to.
While my cousin’s story is inspiring, I am certainly not laying claim to juicing being a cure-all in all cases. But given her story and others who I know who have benefited greatly from juicing, it certainly made me curious about what else it can do for the body.
In recent years, juicing has become very mainstream, with juice bars on practically every corner in cities large and small. But with its huge popularity, there has also been some push back and negativity about juicing, such as you miss out on the fiber of the vegetables and fruit, you may suffer a sugar crash, or juicing may interfere with certain medications, etc.
As the saying goes, everything done in moderation is fine. Juicing is a great add on to a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you’re starting your day with a juice or as a mid-day pick me up, great. Or doing a 1 to 3-day juice cleanse, this is fine too. Starting small is always a good idea, maybe beginning with a 1/2 day or 1-day cleanse.
For me personally, I enjoy the benefits of juicing. It’s an easy way to get in a variety of veggies and fruit in one serving. I end up feeling refreshed, hydrated and lighter. With our busy lives, many of us don’t always eat the daily recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables.
The USDA recommends “eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.” Many struggle to consume this amount, so juicing is a convenient and easy way to pack in a variety of nutrients and minerals.
Besides convenience and getting in the required daily fruits and veggies, juicing has many benefits. Below are some of them –
- Juicing is alkalizing, a powerful tool in warding off illness in the body.
- Juicing allows nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants to “hit our cells within 15 minutes of drinking, enhancing the delivery of oxygen to cells.”
- Juicing aids in better digestion and helps detoxify the body.
- Juicing aids mental acuity and makes for clearer skin.
- Juicing can help lower cortisol levels that cause stress and anxiety.
- Juicing can reboot our health, metabolism and overall sense of well being.
Tip: When juicing, while it’s important to get in both veggies and fruit, it’s advisable to go heavier on the veggies and lighter on the fruit. I usually include one fruit to give a bit of sweetness to the juice.
In order to juice at home, you will need a juicer. There are many brands in many different price ranges on the market. You can also use a blender and then strain the juice through a cheesecloth, but having a juicer on hand makes life easier. I have owned a Champion Juicer for over 20 years, and it still functions perfectly well. I recommend doing research online as there are so many choices.
As far as juice fasts, I personally like to do a one-day or a three-day juice fast, maximum. I know there are people who do more long term juice fasts, and I cannot speak to that or advocate that. This may be something to discuss with a holistic doctor and / or a nutritionist. There can be possible negative side effects when doing longer term juice cleanses and fasts. The body needs to be prepared for something like that, and long term juice fasts are not for everyone.
Below are some of my favorite juices:
I almost always start with apple and carrot as a base.
My favorite go-to juice is:
- 2 apples
- 2 large carrots
- 1 beet
- 1 stalk celery
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/2 lemon juiced (optional)
Or I’ll have this one:
- 1 apple
- 1 large carrot
- 1/4 head red cabbage
- Handful of spinach
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- Ginger root (1 inch piece)
Wash and cut up veggies and fruit into chunks, adding to juicer one at a time. It’s best to drink juice right away for maximum nutrients. Juice can also be stored in glass mason jars in the freezer.
On hot days, I really love juicing watermelon, sometimes with a little lime for maximum hydration. It’s my favorite and it’s super refreshing!
And I love juicing celery. Recently there has been a lot of press on celery juice.
Per the Medical Medium, “a great way to start the day is by drinking lemon water upon waking and then 30 minutes later drinking 16 ounces of straight celery juice on an empty stomach.” He advocates the countless benefits to drinking celery juice, including “helping to reduce chronic acid reflux, fighting autoimmune disease, restoring adrenals, flushing toxins from the liver, killing certain viruses, helping reduce stomach bloating, strengthening the liver, reversing illness” and more.
So, there you have it….these are some of my thoughts on juicing. If you don’t have the time or inclination to juice at home, there are great options at juice bars. I personally feel that juicing is a great way to reset the body. And combining juicing with a whole foods, plant based diet and getting regular exercise will give our bodies what they need for optimal functioning as well as help to reduce the stress that we carry in our bodies.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates