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by Gary Null, PhD
I’ve been juicing for myself and educating others about this natural way to consume maximal nutrients since I opened my first health food store, Creative Health Foods, in 1967. It also eventually had Manhattan’s first juice bar.
Twenty years ago, I wrote the first edition of The Joy of Juicing. It was the first of my books about juicing and became a health and nutrition bestseller. (A new edition of this book will be released shortly.)
Back then, I could not have imagined that today tens of millions of individuals would be enjoying the full-spectrum benefits of fresh juice daily. Many people are now using their own extractors and blenders to make great juices and smoothies. For those who don’t want to buy the produce and make it themselves, fresh-bottled juices are widely available in markets across the country. Companies such as Jamba Juice have created successful business models around juicing. Even Starbucks, which recently bought out a juice bar chain, has set its sights on the fresh juice phenomenon. Who could have thought juicing would have evolved to where it is today?
Over the years, I have interviewed leaders in the natural health and nutrition field from all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe. A high percentage of my guests and program’s listeners advocate juicing. More than ever, I hear testimonials of how people turned their health around while on a cleansing juice fast, or how individuals were able to lose weight or overcome serious medical conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and cancer by using combinations of different juices. 
It might be said that today we live in a society of temptations. Fast food, processed food, and comfort foods are at every corner if not at arm’s reach. The biocides, chemical toxins, genetic altering, and industrial processing that go into these foods leave them depleted of essential nutrients and full of unhealthful fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. 
Drinks are often ignored as part of this problem. For example, oversized unhealthy drinks, concentrated with processed sugars, have become completely accepted as our culture’s diet contributes directly to our obesity pandemic.
Adding to this dietary crisis, many make other poor lifestyle choices: smoking, drinking alcohol, and not exercising or not exercising enough. Many suffer from work-related stress and toxic relationships. Environmental pollutants are becoming increasingly inescapable. 
The unfortunate if not surprising result is a society awash with disease: heart disease, metabolic disorders, inflammatory conditions, oxidative stress, and immune conditions. Many of these conditions were almost completely absent in traditional societies until they came into contact with Western dietary norms.
Therefore, what if healthy drinks and beverages, which are so often part of our society’s health problems, could be turned into a viable solution for the many illnesses our nutritionally depleted diets have brought about?
We cannot consume the necessary amount of nutrients from solid food to overcome all the ravages brought on by modernity, let alone to reach optimal health. Even when eating what may be conventionally considered a healthy diet, we may be still lacking essential micronutrients. 
Yes, eat your fruits and vegetables – up to a point. Fiber is vital for the digestion process (usually up to 50 grams a day). However, in excess, digestion can become too rapid, thwarting the absorption of nutrients. In many cases, the fibrous nature of foods themselves (lignocellulose in celery being a good example) has the effect of trapping vital nutrients, thereby impeding their absorption and assimilation. 
Juicing liberates and concentrates these nutrients and, therefore, enables us to consume the array of phytonutrients (polyphenols and carotenoids), vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and enzymes in the amounts required for optimal health that are otherwise too difficult to obtain by other means.
If it is uncontroversial that processing food depletes its nutritional value, eating raw foods might be an excellent source for a nutritious alternative. Since we typically juice with fresh, raw foods, juicing promotes all of the benefits of a raw and non-denatured diet.
A “raw food” has not been altered or damaged by any method that would change its basic chemical structure through heating over 118°F (48°C). Refraining from cooking food is also shown to preserve its enzymatic activity as well as certain vitamins (particularly C and thiamin) and minerals when compared to cooking. 
A raw diet need not be taken to extremes and common sense. But, in general, take care not to overcook food. Steaming is generally preferable to boiling, boiling in one inch of water may be better than boiling in six inches, and boiling for five minutes is usually preferable to boiling for 20 minutes. 
With juicing, on the other hand, we gain all the benefits of a raw food diet plus much more. When we set aside time to buy healthy foods for juicing, it is a sign of self-worth. Juicing is telling us, “We deserve it.” It encourages us to take control of our health by being active and mindful participants in the process of food production. We are opting for – and, if necessary, advocating – produce that is organic, with the added health benefits it offers not only to us but also to our soil and the environment. 
I always include juicing as an essential part of a detoxification protocol when counseling people. A healthy person can eliminate harmful substances through the liver, kidneys, and other organs. But when we subject ourselves to long-term exposure to environmental toxicants, or a diet high in unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, processed proteins, and sodium, the body is hampered in its ability to rid toxins. When this happens, toxins accumulate. The toxic accumulation and overload can severely depress the immune system. Therefore, detoxification may be slow at first. When toxins have had so much time to build up, their breakdown will also take time.
In general, the green vegetable juices that contain garlic, ginger, and cayenne will aid in cleansing and detoxifying the body. Fruit juices, particularly the red juices, are associated with cellular repair, rebuilding rejuvenation, energizing, initiating enzymatic processes, and antioxidant protection. Watermelon, oranges, berries, and papaya are excellent additions to the armamentarium for these purposes.
A recent study at Texas A&M University investigated different juicing methods to determine the method that best preserved fresh raw foods’ phytochemicals, antioxidants, and diverse metabolites. The researchers found that low-speed juice extractors were ideal. Unlike high-speed centrifugal juicers, the extractors produce less heat and thereby preserve higher amounts of vitamin C and other beneficial phenolic compounds. 
If we juice in the morning and refrigerate the drink, it will still be fine in the evening. By adding lemon juice or vitamin C, the juice will remain fresh in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If we wait too long to drink it, the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes will start to break down and lose their potency.
Start juicing gradually and build up to multiple juices a day over a period of weeks. You can be as creative as you wish.
Finally, take time to savor and appreciate juice. Try pouring it in a wine glass and marveling at the gifts of nature. Bask in the refinement, the “ambiance” of it all.

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