Raw Juice Secrets. Why Natural Juices Are So Health-Giving

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Raw-Juices_cIn these days of advanced technology and rapid change, it's easy to get caught up in the clutches of convenience, and to forget the simple and natural things in life. While we're all aware of the benefits, eating fresh food in its natural state is something that's often pushed to the bottom of our priority list. We make time to see friends, play sport, and clean the house, but when it comes to supplying energy and nutrition through the best sorts of food it's usually another story: one of packets, tins, TV dinners, takeaways, cans of fizzy drink, and endless cups of coffee and tea.

Lately we have become used to supplementing our diets with vitamin and mineral pills, as a kind of insurance policy.

Supplements have their place and can be very effective, but they can't take the place of a diet full of natural, health-giving foods. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are part of the all-natural line-up that can knock spots off convenience products. Not only do they provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, they are also cleansing and balancing for the body as a whole: the equivalent of a multivitamin pill in a glass, with hidden benefits.

Raw health

Once you have tasted your own fresh fruit and vegetable juices you'll realize that there is little comparison between the liquid that flows from your juicer and that which flows from shop-bought cartons. Most readymade juices rely on concentrated juice and extra water to bulk them up. Look on the label and you'll find that some juices contain additives such as sugar, colours, flavours and preservatives too.

Homemade juices have nothing added, nothing taken away, just 100 per cent pure juice. The fruits and vegetables which you choose to juice will be relatively fresh (especially with today's superb international transportation systems), and will not have undergone any processing. This makes a real difference, as any sort of cooking reduces the content of vitamins and minerals, and sometimes destroys them altogether.

Every time you drink a glass of juice it will contain virtually the same amount of nutrients (although not as much fibre) as if you were eating the fruit or vegetable whole. In fact, you will probably be absorbing far more, as it takes quite a bit of produce to make just one 8 fl oz / 230ml glass of juice. For example, you would have to eat 2 apples, or 3 carrots, or nearly a whole pineapple to consume the quantity of nutrients that goes into 8 fl oz / 230ml of juice.

The pioneers

Of course, like most 'novel' ideas, the concept of juicing is not new at all. Since the nineteenth century, doctors and naturopaths have been treating patients with fresh juices and raw foods to help improve their health. Germany and Switzerland are together regarded as the cradle of the therapy, and during the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries nurtured a number of famous pioneers, such as Father Kniepp, Dr Kellog, Dr Max Bircher-Benner and Dr Max Gerson. Between them they developed the Rohsaft Kur (the fresh juice cure), which is still practised today at health clinics all over the world. American pioneers, such as the late Dr Norman Walker, and Ann Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, have continued their work. There is simply masses of research and practise to draw upon. For many years, therefore, juices have been used by naturopaths in Europe and America to help treat a whole range of minor, and sometimes major, ailments. It's no surprise when you consider what a rich source of nutrients and cleansing elements they are.

Vitamins and minerals

Fresh juices are packed with many of the vitamins and minerals that keep us alive and well. As with all natural, whole foods, the vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables are often bound on to other nutrients that help absorption. For example, bioflavonoids are found in the pith of citrus fruit, and they aid the absorption of vitamin C. The minerals found in fresh produce are chelated to amino acids, or sometimes a vitamin, to make them easier to absorb.

The list below reveals the range of vitamins and minerals in fresh juices; beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus are found at particularly high levels.

Vitamins:

beta-carotene (the vegetarian form of vitamin A)

vitamin B1 (thiamine)

vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

vitamin B3 (niacin)

vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

folic acid

biotin

choline

inositol

vitamin C

vitamin E


Minerals:

calcium

chlorine

chromium

cobalt

copper

fluorine

iodine

iron

magnesium

manganese

phosphorus

potassium

selenium

sodium

sulphur

zinc

The antioxidants

You may have heard of antioxidant nutrients in newspaper and magazine reports, and if you haven't you will soon. They are the focus of scores of research studies, which are looking at whether a group of vitamins and minerals - vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene (the vegetarian source of vitamin A) and selenium - can give protection against degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, premature ageing and cataracts. Scientists believe that they may be the key to limiting the impact of these often devastating diseases.

Of course, fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants -beta-carotene, vitamins C and E - and juices made with them are naturally a very good source. The reason why these nutrients may have a revolutionary impact on our preventive healthcare is that they are able to quench unbalanced molecules, known as free radicals.

Free radicals

Free radicals are generated by toxins, such as those produced by air pollution or smoke. They react with other molecules in our bodies and destabilize them, therefore putting cells at risk. They have been implicated in the development of diseases like cancer and heart disease, because they are capable of destroying other, healthy molecules, which in turn become unstable.

So, drinking plenty of fresh juices may have a long-term impact on your health, as well as perking you up in the short-term.

Extra nutrients

Fresh juices also contain other substances which are not classified as vitamins or minerals, but which may be beneficial to our health. For example, plant pigments like carotenoids and anthocyanins; substances that combat plant viruses and bacteria; and compounds that create smell and taste. Current research is trying to establish just what these individual essences can do, but the suggestion is that they are an integral part of the goodness supplied by raw fruit and vegetables and their juices.

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