By: Monica Sleeter
Juicing can save your life. In the United States, right now, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. They have remained, according to the CDC, the first and second leading causes of death, respectively during the past 75 years. Chronic lower respiratory diseases and strokes followed with Alzheimer’s and diabetes also in the top 10 list of causes.
What do all these diseases have in common? What you put in your body! Scientific evidence supports that our health problems are related to a combination of nutritional deficiency and environmental toxicity.
The typical American diets of meat (beef, chicken, pork or fish) and a starch (potato, rice or pasta) leaves vegetables as an afterthought comprising of a side of this or that vegetable, or the occasional salad.
Americans, overall, are not getting the phytonutrients their bodies need; and while advances in technology, medicine and prevention have reduced the death rate percentage of cardiovascular deaths somewhat, cancer rates have increased. Yes, vegetables and fruits do matter. The quickest and most efficient way to ingest the FDA’s recommended six to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day is to juice them.
What you eat and drink every day continuously has an impact on your overall health and your susceptibility to these and other diseases. In addition to vitamins and minerals that a person absorbs for their food and drinks, there are natural chemicals called Phytonutrients (or Phytochemicals) that though not essential to keeping you alive, because they are not yet classified as nutrients, they are key factors in the prevention of disease and in keeping your body working properly.
They are non-nutritive plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing, compounds and are associated with the prevention and/or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death in Western countries - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are involved in many processes including ones that help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels.
More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. The top five are Cartenoids, Ellagic acid, Flavonoids, Resveratrol and Glucosinolates.
- Cartenoids are antioxidants that fight harmful free radicals that can hinder tissues anywhere in your body. Your body can convert these to Vitamin A, which is essential to keeping your immune system working properly. Cartenoids are found in yellow, orange and red colored fruits and vegetables. Spinach, kale and collards also contain carteroids.
- Ellagic acid, found in berries and other plants, helps protect against cancer by causing cancer cells to die and may help your liver neutralize cancer-causing chemicals in your system.
- Flavonoids (found in a variety of plant foods including apples, onions) help reduce people's risk of asthma, certain types of cancer, and coronary heart disease.
- Resveratrol, found in grapes and red wines, acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Some research suggests that resveratrol might reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. And it may help extend people's life span.
- Glucosinolates are found in cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli or cabbage). They turn into other chemicals during the cooking process and while you digest these foods. These, in turn, may help retard the growth of cancer.
In order for your body to get all these phytonutrients, you have to make fresh juice a part of your life. If you do not consume many fruits and vegetables, adding juice to your diet can be a different way to increase the consumption of these important plant foods and thereby improve your overall health and wellness.
Juicing provides a way to access digestive enzymes typically locked away in the fiber matrix of whole fruits and vegetables. Most commercial juices are processed and lacking in nutrition while freshly juiced fruits and vegetables are loaded with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and of course, the aforementioned phytonutrients.
Though some may argue that not consuming the insoluble fiber from vegetables and fruits by juicing is non-conducive to overall health, the soluble fiber does persist in the juice; and in removing the fibers and consuming fruits and vegetables in liquid form, nutrients are more quickly delivered to the body and allow individuals, who may have difficulty or simply don’t consume enough whole vegetables, the opportunity to reap the numerous benefits vegetables and their phytonutrients, have to offer.
Professor Gerard Anderson of John Hopkins University notes that close to 50 percent of the population in North America now suffers from at least one chronic disease, and many more suffer from more than one condition. The rate of increase in incidence of autoimmune and degenerative diseases is alarming, especially when one looks at the dramatic rate of increase of these diseases in children.
Instead of waiting to get sick and then desperately searching for a cure, prevent disease now, by juicing daily. Give your body the tools and nutrients it needs to remain well. Part two will include tips on the how's of juicing.