With juice cleansing on the lips of health gurus everywhere, Erin Kisby set out to discover whether wellbeing could really be found in a glass of freshly squeezed
There’s a plethora of health rules you can follow to keep your weight in check, your heart healthy and your body fit. Some leave even experts confused about whether they should be included as part of a healthy lifestyle – cases in point: red wine and dark chocolate. But if there was one thing we thought was a safe wellbeing bet, it was fruit and vegies.
Experts agree with the guideline of five serves of vegies and two serves of fruit. Every day. This helps prevent heart disease, certain forms of cancer and obesity, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Simple.
The trouble is, despite their advice, most Aussie adults are only eating half the recommended fruit ‘n’ veg. If you fall into this category – or are simply looking to super-charge your wellbeing – is drinking juice the solution to your diet downfall?
For Joe Cross, director of the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, the answer is yes. “I swear by fresh juice, because fruits and vegetables quite literally saved my life,” he reveals.
“Following a 60-day juice cleanse and another 70 days of eating just fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds I lost 45 kilos and haven’t had any medication in four years.” However, before you start skipping your sandwich for a freshly squeezed, there are a few things you need to consider.
The detox debate
Opinion may be divided on the benefits of doing a detox diet, however, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) claims the scientific basis for these kinds of stringent diets is lacking and such severe dietary restrictions of whole food groups may be unnecessary.
“Our bodies are already finely tuned toxin-fighting machines,” says the DAA’s Clare Evangelista. “The lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system remove and neutralise toxins within hours after we eat them.”
While some people report feeling better on a ‘detox diet’, this is quite often as a result of eating less foods high in fat, salt or added sugar, drinking less alcohol and caffeine while eating more fruit and vegetables. Her advice? “Your liver is the main toxin-fighting organ in the body, and you can make life easier for your liver by following a healthy, reduced fat diet and avoiding too much alcohol and caffeine rather than just being ‘super healthy’ some of the time.”
Enjoy your greens
There’s no denying a diet rich in fruit and vegies plays a vital role in protecting your health and wellbeing. In fact, a World Health Organisation report found low fruit and vegetable intake is estimated to cause about 31 per cent of heart disease and 11 per cent of stroke worldwide. What’s more, they estimate up to 2.7 million lives could potentially be saved each year if fruit and vegetable consumption was sufficiently increased.
They suggest 400g of fruit and vegetables per day may be needed to help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. But is drinking juice the best way to up your intake and protect your health? “In moderation a small glass of mixed fresh fruit and vegetable juice is good for you as it is packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant chemicals),” says Aloysa Hourigan, senior nutritionist with Nutrition Australia.
“And if you don’t particularly like eating vegetables, drinking fresh vegie juice may be a good way to up your intake.” However, unless you add the pulp you may miss out on the fibre whole fruit has to offer, and studies have also found that most fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants in the skins and peels, which don’t always make it into your juice.
To juice or not to juice
It’s easy to fall off the health wagon, and a juice cleanse or juice fast – replacing solid foods with juice for up to five days – may sound like a nutritious way to get back on track.
“Some people love the idea of drinking juice, as they see it like a vitamin pill in a glass, but there can be downsides to doing a juice cleanse,” says Evangelista.
Top of her list is the lack of fibre in juice, which can lead to poor bowel health such as constipation, while the high amount of energy in big glasses of juice is also of concern. “Portion control is important when drinking juice, especially when choosing commercially made smoothies as some 400ml cups can contain as many kilojoules as a full meal,” she says.
“Juice is also heat and light sensitive, so if you choose to go on a juice cleanse that is made and delivered to you in clear bottles some nutrients can be lost.” In addition, replacing meals with juice isn’t advisable as your body needs a variety of food groups to function that fruit and vegetable juice alone can’t provide, such as protein, zinc and iron.
“If you want to re-focus on your health instead of drinking fruit and vegetables, eat the wholefood instead,” advises Hourigan. “For one thing, eating the fresh fruit or vegetable is going to keep you feeling fuller for longer.” One exception to the rule may be drinking the occasional breakfast smoothie, however, you need to add yoghurt or low-fat milk to help make it a complete and satisfying meal.
Mix it up
“Fruits and vegetables are good for you in many ways including protecting your health against chronic disease, heart disease, infections and certain cancers,” says Hourigan. “And while it’s quite okay to enjoy the occasional fruit and vegie juice, the best way to include these foods in your diet is as wholefoods in a wide, balanced diet.”
But if you feel your diet or lifestyle is so bad you need a kick-start, try keeping a food diary so you can identify where you need to make improvements, advises Evangelista. “Give yourself adequate time to make adjustments so the changes you make become healthy habits, as an all or nothing approach to a healthy lifestyle isn’t sustainable.
” Your body may be a toxin-fighting machine but you still need to treat it well!
Joe’s top five juice feasting tips & facts
“I don’t advocate drinking only juice all the time, however, I believe we need to up the amount of fruit and veg we consume and drinking it is a great way of absorbing nutrients and phytonutrients,” says Joe Cross, who credits juice cleansing for rebooting his life.
“I know through experience if you don’t put enough fruit and veg in your body you will not live a long and healthy life.”
- A bucketload of goodness in one glass – On a juice feast, there are typically between 6-7 serves of fruit or vegetables in each glass – that’s a bucketload of goodness.
- Not all juices are created equal – It’s important you try to eat a rainbow of colourful vegetables and fruits throughout your day for the full spectrum of health-promoting micronutrients.
- Fresh is best – The shorter the time it takes for a fruit or vegetable to get from the ground to your glass, the more nutrients for your body. Try to make it to your local farmers’ market. Seasonal produce is typically cheaper, as well as being more plentiful, ripe and nutritious than out-of-season varieties.
- Suck it up – Juicing is an easy way to flood your body with the goodness of fruit and vegetables.
- Good Sugar – While commercially packaged fruit juices can be high in sugar, natural sugar from fresh fruit and its juice is a very different quality of sugar than what you put in your coffee. Freshly squeezed fruit juices also contain a broad range of other nutrients including vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidants.
Diary of a juicer
“I’m what most would regard as extremely health conscious; I eat well and exercise a lot. At times in my life however I have been quite addicted to caffeine. I don’t like my body relying on something to get through the day. So when I saw Joe Cross’ documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead I was incredibly inspired,” says Angela Shallis.
“I wanted to break this habit and the 15 day juice challenge presented itself as the perfect opportunity. I won’t lie to you; the first four days were detox hell! I was moody, agitated and incredibly tired. I really felt the change kick in around day five and the turnaround was remarkable – I honestly felt incredible, like a different person. I was particularly amazed at just how much clearer I felt in my mind and for the first time in a long time just simply happy, I was no longer anxious and felt a great sense of clarity in my thinking. My general mood and energy was lifted to the point where I could not stop telling friends and family just how great I was feeling.
“I wish I could report that I gave up coffee for good but I can say I didn’t drink any caffeine for almost a year after my first Reboot. But if I could relay a message to others who are considering the Reboot juice fast, it would be to do it, 100 per cent!”
For Reboot recipes visit jointhereboot.com
Juice Boost Recipes
Why not swap your morning glass of OJ for one of these reboot juice recipes?
• 2 apples
• 4 carrots
• 2 beets
• 6 leaves Swiss chard – 1.5 cups
• 1 tbsp ginger root
(kJ: 1,260, Protein: 9g,
• 1/4 large pineapple, core removed and roughly cubed
• 1 cup blackberries
• 1 kiwi Fruit
• 1/4 comice pear
• 1/4 cup coconut water
• 30 mint leaves
(kJ: 966, Protein: 5g,
• 2 cups blueberries
• 2 Kiwi fruit
• 16 strawberries
• 2 cups mint leaves, packed into the measuring cup
(kJ: 1,340, Protein: 5g,
• 6 leaves kale
• 2 cups spinach
• 1/2 cucumber
• 4 stalks celery
• 2 apples
• 1 tbsp ginger root
(kJ: 756, Protein: 12g,