Are You Making These 8 Common Juicing Mistakes?
By Vani Hari (Food Babe)
I love green juice so much that I would marry it if I wasn’t already married. When I see families, especially children, drinking green juice, my heart melts on the floor, but when I see people drinking juice in a less than stellar way and making common mistakes, I get crazy concerned and want to help. That’s why I want to go over common juicing mistakes I have personally witnessed, so hopefully I can put my crazy concerned look to rest. It’s important to remember – we are all learning in this big bad world of processed foods, and juicing is better than not juicing at all, even if you make these mistakes.
Top 8 Common Juicing Mistakes
1. Not Drinking Green Juice On An Empty Stomach Recently a blogger friend of mine tried juicing for the first time, and when she finished her first juice she proclaimed to me that it gave her heart burn. Immediately, I asked her if she drank her juice on an empty stomach, and she said “No, I had it after breakfast.” Fresh juice should only be consumed on an empty stomach. The whole point of drinking juice is diminished if you don’t, and can end up giving you digestive issues like my friend experienced.
Drinking juice on an empty stomach allows the vitamins and minerals in the juice to go straight to your bloodstream. Having fiber or a meal already in your stomach prevents your body from quickly absorbing the nutrients from the juice. A good general rule of thumb to follow is to wait at least 2 hours after a meal to drink a green juice and wait 20 mins after drinking a green juice to consume a meal.
2. Waiting Too Long To Drink Your Green Juice
As soon as your freshly made green juice gets exposed to air, its live enzymes begin to degrade, therefore decreasing the nutritional content. I can immediately tell the difference in how I feel after drinking fresh juice vs. an older juice. The live enzymes of a fresh juice give me immediate energy – where as older juice just doesn’t give me the same boost. For this reason, unless you have a slow masticating juicer or twin gear, I recommend always consuming the juice fresh and within 15 mins of making it. This is especially important if you make your juice without a juicer using a blender and strainer.
For slow or twin-gear juicers, I recommend storing juice in an airtight container (filled to the top with no air gap) for up to 24-36 hours, and for a press juicer up to 72 hours. If you decide to store your juice, remember to keep it refrigerated at all times before consuming. This is also important to keep in mind when you buy pre-made, raw unpasteurized juice because as soon as the juice becomes warm, bacteria can begin to grow that could be harmful. Always keep your juice in the fridge or a cooler if traveling if you don’t drink it right away. If you notice your favorite juice bar keeping juices longer than 72 hours, make sure they are using high pressure pasteurization technology (like Suja Juice and Blueprint Cleanse) – otherwise, they are getting away with selling you lower quality and nutritionally degraded juice.
3. Using Too Many Sweet Fruits and Vegetables In Your Green Juice
Sweet fruits and vegetables like watermelon, apples, pears, and carrots are very nutritious when consumed whole, but if you consume too many of them juiced, the amount of sugar and fructose you are adding to your diet could be over the top. If a juice has too much natural sugar it can affect insulin levels pretty dramatically, causing cravings and other not so pretty things to happen, like gaining weight. This is why I recommend keeping the sugary fruits and vegetables in your green juice to a maximum of 1 per serving. It’s important to keep sugar in check to be able to sustain steady and consistent energy levels.
I personally do not add any fruit to my daily green juice any longer, but I still love the occasional carrot (for their eye lash enhancing properties) and beet (for their detoxing capabilities). Exceptions to this rule are lemons and limes that are naturally very low in sugar and do not spike blood insulin levels like other fruits. (One caveat – if you are trying to get your children switched over to green juice, you can start by adding 2 fruits per serving, but then slowly decrease this over time as they become accustomed to the taste.)
4. Treating Green Juice Like A Meal (unless on a fast or having it as a snack)
Juice isn’t a meal replacement, rather it is a meal enhancer or snack. Juicing is nature’s vitamin pill and should be consumed like a supplement within 20 mins before a complete meal. It’s really hard to eat the amount of vegetables recommended by most experts (6-8 servings) in a typical day. It’s rare to see Americans eating vegetables for breakfast, and at lunch a typical vegetable serving could be as small as a piece of lettuce or tomato on a sandwich, making it probable that your target amount of vegetable servings for the day will not be met. It takes a few pounds of vegetables to get a 12-ounce glass of juice – which gives you an entire day’s serving in one glass.
Juicing should be like taking a vitamin but of course it’s a billion times better. Additionally, drinking juice before a meal reduces carb and sweet cravings and completely changes your taste buds to want something plant-based verses something heavy or processed. Juicing allows you to absorb many more vitamins and minerals than you would otherwise by consuming smoothies or eating fruits and vegetables with the fiber. The only time I wouldn’t consume a meal after juicing would be during a juice fast.
5. Not Chewing Your Green Juice
Juice (and smoothies) are food and should be chewed. It’s important to swish around the juice in your mouth or move your jaw up and down for a couple of seconds before swallowing it to release saliva that contains important digestive enzymes. The digestive enzymes are crucial in delivering key nutrients to your cells. When I visited with Dr. Mercola for lunch, it was fun witnessing him doing this when he drank his green juice – he swished it back and forth quite energetically! I personally like to use less of an obvious gesture and keep the juice in my mouth a few seconds before swallowing it.
6. Leaving Your Juicer Dirty
I know juicing can take time and life can get busy, things like cleaning your juicer right away can get pushed to the side, but let me tell you, cleaning your juicer (at least rinsing it off) will save you and your knuckles a lot of scrubbing later. If I know time is going to be tight, I’ll often throw all the parts of the juicer in a sink and let them soak with water and a little soap – that way, when I get back to cleaning the juicer, it will be much easier. Also, to save time when I juice in the morning, I’ll pre-wash the vegetables the night before, eliminating this step the next day, and allowing me more time to clean the juicer right away. I’ve gotten my juicing routine down to 20 mins using a 2 step press juicer, which is pretty darn good if you ask me! When I use a centrifuge or another type of juicer, my timing is usually around 15 mins from start to cleanup.
7. Juicing Spinach or Kale Over and Over Again
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s key for juicing correctly and safely and to avoid hormonal issues. Remember to rotate the greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, collards, dandelion, arugula, etc.) in your juice each week to prevent build up of oxalic acid (which can affect the thyroid gland) and provide a balanced amount of different vitamins and minerals for your body.
8. You Stopped Green Juicing Because You Heard That Drinking Smoothies Is Better (or maybe you never started)
For the record, I consume both smoothies and juices, but I also know there is no other way to get the extraordinarily amount of powerful nutrients trapped inside green vegetables than to juice them. Drinking juice has the power to make you feel like you have never before – it’s quite magical and something I wouldn’t give up for every smoothie in the world. Our soil is nutritionally depleted due to the use of pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and conventional farming practices, drastically reducing the amount of many vitamins and minerals once abundantly available to us. Eating a piece of broccoli now vs. 20 years ago does not yield the same amount of nutrition. It’s crucial that we try to compensate for this fact by juicing.
Juicing allows you to get the extra boost you need much more efficiently than trying to chew an unachievable amount of vegetables all day. When I started drinking carrot juice, my eye lashes immediately started to grow longer within just a couple of weeks. Feeling the extra energy boost is one thing, but seeing the results in the mirror can be quite dramatic and make you a firm believer of the powers of drinking juice. Drinking juice reduces the amount of energy your body uses for digestion, giving your cells a chance to repair and rebuild. It’s the ultimate preventative medicine when it comes to avoiding disease. Don’t wait until you are already sick or trying to get better to consume juice, it’s about creating a healthy body from within now so you never get sick in the first place.
Do you juice at home? Have you learnt something new that you didn’t know about juicing?
Vani Hari (Food Babe), is a well-renowned voice when it comes to nutrition and living an organic life to bring health and wellness to people’s lives. Vani began foodbabe.com in 2011 to spread the message of what’s really in America’s food supply. Vani has been profiled in the New York Times, USA Today, appeared on The Dr. OZ Show, CNN, and is also a regular contributor on NBC’s Charlotte Today.